Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Dissertation Acknowledgements

One year ago today I defended my dissertation. As I reread this with one year of facultyness under my belt, these words mean even more.


I have something in common with Dorothy, Alice and Neo when they took their journeys to Oz, Wonderland, and the Matrix. When I entered into doctoral studies and dissertation writing, I embarked upon a journey I did not understand, to a place I had never been, with people on whom I had to place my trust. Without my travel companions, I would have been lost. My gratitude for their companionship, guidance, support, and expertise is great and I could use a lot of ink giving a full description of what my travel companions have done for me. Allow this modest note of acknowledgement to suffice.

My primary guide on this journey was my adviser, Dr. Jodi Dworkin. Her knowledge and wisdom were demonstrated when she pointed out new and interesting ideas, theories and articles for me to chase down and get to know. She knew when to hold my hand and when to let me wander on my own.

There were times on this journey when I doubted my ability, when I was riddled with fears about what was to come next, and was uncertain about whether I could continue. Dr. Bill Doherty provided well timed doses of courage so potent that my doubts scattered, my fears evaporated, and my uncertainty became indefensible.

Perhaps the strangest land on this journey was a place where an unusual language was spoken – the language of statistics and quantitative methods. It was a privilege to have Dr. Martha Rueter as a companion who not only spoke the language fluently, but was clever, benevolent, and patient in how she helped me in my efforts to become bilingual.

When embarking on a journey in social science, having a travel companion who has a bag stuffed full of sociology is an incredible asset. Dr. Ann Meier pulled all manner of stuff out of this bag and let me look at it all. She also had a way of responding to my work that left me feeling like my ideas, questions, and research efforts were smart and interesting.

On this journey, there were many paths diverging from the main path that held out some promise of interest and intrigue. Had it not been for my wife, Gail, reminding me of why I started this journey in the first place, I would have quickly gotten lost, making the journey longer…or even endless. She reminded me that I can do anything, but I can’t do everything.

No one travels without provisions. Because of my mother, Linda, and my sister, Amy, my children wore new clothes, my family ate well, and my marriage had child-free time to be nurtured in connection and intimacy. Furthermore, with their help, we established intergenerational rituals that gave order to my unwieldy schedule and will live on in our hearts and souls when we move on from this place.

The value of having friends who believed in me, cohort members who included me, and voices of wise people who provided encouragement to me is impossible to calculate. John Ogren is a trusted friend with whom I shared my academic challenges. His wise words and faithful prayers helped guide my steps. My cohort believed I deserved to be one of them – amazing. Dr. Cathy Solheim and Dr. Liz Wieling were so incredibly affirming that they had me believing I could walk on water.

I am grateful to God for all of my travel companions (angels?) who walked with me. I thank God for the privilege of this journey and look forward to the next.


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