I got a Fulbright Award to support my dissertation research in the Dominican Republic. And after I jumped for joy, I thought, “thank goodness Louise watched my baby so I could go to my Fulbright interview!” My four years in graduate school represent a collective effort on the road my PhD. I have more ahead of me, but I’m feeling grateful and sentimental, so this is my love letter to those who have gotten me to this point.
I am standing on the shoulders of ancestors who have gone before me, fought, and died so that I can go to school today and have access to higher education. I am because we are.
My cheering section includes people I have gone to school with, taught with, lived near, and served with. I am because we are.
My kind and supportive friends at Duke have done statistics problem sets with me, they babysit, give critical feedback on my writing, commiserate when things are difficult, and celebrate our successes collectively. I am because we are.
My mentors and advisors at Duke and at Davidson write recommendation letters, allow me to bring my sons to meetings, invite me to share my research, tell me I am capable, and push me to be better. I am because we are.
My friends who are like family share their advice and experiences, encourage me to set weekly goals, pray for me, and laugh with me. I am because we are.
My family is willing to drive an hour and a half from Salisbury to Durham to babysit a newborn so I can go to class, they babysit on weekends when I have academic deadlines, they listen to me complain and help me put my stressors in perspective, they celebrate birthdays/anniversaries/holidays with lots of food and fellowship. I am because we are.
My life partner is the most supportive husband I could ever ask for. He changes diapers, does laundry and dishes, builds me up, dries my tears, and pushes me to dream bigger. I am because we are.
Thank you to my village.