Well, folks, I did it. I finally graduated! God is so amazing. I had only 6 weeks to edit over 200 pages of dissertation, and I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to do it. I took it to the Lord and had some of the very best prayer time of my life. God is able...period. He accomplished what I couldn't. I remember staring at some of the paragraphs that somehow made it to my computer screen and just marveling at the words written there. I couldn't have thought of that on my own!
By the end of May, I had the signatures of every member of my dissertation committee. It was such a great feeling (and a bit anticlimactic) to go to California and actually put on that cap and gown and bring this journey to a close.
|With Ellen Hartigan-O'Connor, the dissertation committee member who hooded me at graduation.|
From what I hear, Rebekah handled the ceremony pretty well! Nathan spent the majority of the time walking her around, and she gave a lot of applause to the theater majors (apparently, she didn't see the need to applaud me :). She entertained those in nearby seats with her renditions of "The More We Get Together" and other songs.
We had a pretty bad graduation speaker, which is how it should be, I guess. I don't know that I've ever attended a graduation with a good speaker. This guy's thesis was "I am awesome. Be just like me." Good message for the masses.
Getting hooded was pretty funny. My professor's sole job was to hand my hood to some other "professional hooder" (actually, I really don't know who he was). He practically gagged me putting the thing around my neck, but at least he didn't knock my hat off.
So what's next? Well, I've really been feeling called toward Christian education, specifically at the high school level. I've realized that I love being a mother and a wife and want a position that will allow me to put those things first (university positions would require well more than 40 hours a week). We are also fortunate that we live near several private Christian high schools. God has placed in my life a lot of individuals affiliated with those schools, and by the time I graduated, I was pretty sure that's where He wanted me to land.
I interviewed with one particular school that is just 10 minutes from our home. It's an amazing school, and I enjoyed the interviews very much...all eight hours of them! I didn't get the position this year because they needed someone with a bit more secondary-level teaching experience. But the door there is still wide open! The principal and I had a great conversation, and he promised to "hunt me down" next year. He has a particular vision for his history program that I am uniquely qualified to fill, and I strongly believe that God has a place for me at this school in the near future.
Until then, I'm going to start working on my teaching certification. Isn't it ironic that I'm qualified to teach 19-year-olds - and have, in fact, taught college students for 3 years - yet I'm not qualified to teach 17-year-olds? :) It will be good, though. I'm looking forward to more learning, to feeling more prepared to enter the high school environment, and for all of the extra time that this will give me with Rebekah in the coming year.
I figured I should close out this post by thanking some people. Like my husband and daughter, who put up with me and my work for so long. And my parents, who've always supported me and who have never hid the fact that they are so, so proud. It feels good to make your parents proud.
|Me with Mom and Dad - they made the trip out to California to see me graduate!|
|My dissertation advisor, Alan Taylor.|
I’m grateful to many people for their help, encouragement, and generosity as they walked alongside me in my academic journey. Although a simple “thanks” seems so small compared to the tremendous support that they provided me, I’m honored to be able to express my gratitude publicly and permanently.
Alan Taylor is everything any graduate student could want in an advisor and more. His insights as a scholar are unparalleled – I believe I learned more just sitting and listening to him chat about his historical interests than I have in most formal classroom settings. However, it was the personal attention he gave to my scholarship that I will most remember. He always took the time to listen, provide detailed critical feedback, and more importantly, to praise profusely where praise was due. His financial generosity sustained me at several points throughout my academic career. For his efforts and encouragement on my behalf, I am extremely grateful.
This project would not be nearly what it is today without the additional influence of the rest of my dissertation committee – Ellen Hartigan-O’Connor, John Smolenski, and Ari Kelman. Ellen particularly pushed me to think more critically, read more broadly, and analyze more thoroughly. Although I inwardly cringed whenever I would receive her overwhelming notes on each chapter, I can honestly say that I am grateful for each and every one.
I’m appreciative of those fellow graduate students whose friendship made my journey through graduate school a pleasant one. Yulian Wu has been a great friend since day one. While an excellent scholar, she also proved an excellent companion when making sugar cookies and meatloaf, and I’m grateful to her for dragging me to yoga – turns out I enjoyed it more than I thought I would! My most enjoyable adventures as a graduate student involved Yulian – thanks for being my partner in crime! Luci Petlack has been the best “dissertation buddy” I could have asked for. Not only has she read every single chapter in its roughest stages, but she’s also been there to encourage, complain to, and just chat with when the words wouldn’t seem to flow. I’m so thankful that we were able to finish our academic journey together.
Debbie Lyon and Ross Eikenbary are two of the hardest working staff members at UC Davis. They go above and beyond in every way. I’m especially appreciative of Debbie for keeping that bowl of chocolates on her desk – hard days always seemed a bit brighter after a talk with Debbie and one of those chocolates. Outside of UC Davis, fellow scholars Joe Adelman, Steven Smith, Andrew Torget, Seth Rockman, and Seth Cotlar provided valuable insights, encouragement, and helpful aid throughout the course of my project.
I’m grateful to the many institutions, archives, and foundations that lent me support along my journey. UC Davis and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation provided generous financial support. The Gilder Lehrman Institute not only provided monetary support for my dissertation research, but they also helped start this whole process by accepting me to their first History Scholars Program while I was still an undergraduate. To Thorin Tritter and the rest of the GL “crew” – thanks for showing me just how fun history could be. I was honored to be a participant at the American Antiquarian Society’s summer seminar led by David Paul Nord and John Nerone on the newspaper and culture of print in the early republic. The AAS’s Phil Lampi and Paul Erickson have provided encouragement and valuable insight. I also appreciate the society’s generous financial help and the use of their collections in my own work. Without the American Antiquarian Society, a history of newspapers would be a much more difficult beast to conquer. I’m especially thankful to the Maryland Historical Society for making me feel at home during my extended stay. Their H. Furlong Baldwin Library has been my most favorite of all, primarily due to the friendliness and helpfulness of their staff. I’m also thankful to Columbia University, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Library of Congress, the New York Historical Society, and the New York Public Library – it was an honor and pleasure to conduct research at each of these institutions.
I would never have even considered going to graduate school in the first place if it hadn’t been for the overwhelming support and encouragement of three very special professors. David Snead invested in my academic future from the moment I stepped into his class. He gave me a love for the subject and encouraged me to consider a future in it. More importantly, he showed me that you don’t have to compromise your faith or values to be a successful academic. Christina Ashby-Martin pushed me to become my best, praising me every step of the way. Her guidance in the world of fellowships and grants helped me secure much-needed financial resources. And Gretchen Adams – thank you for jumping on board when this timid undergraduate came knocking at your door asking you to be her undergraduate thesis advisor. I have never regretted my choice and am so thankful to have had your friendship and guidance along my academic path.
Finally, none of this would have been possible without the support, friendship, and love of my friends and family. Katie Sluis, Kristen Queen, and Stacia Heuser – you all kept me sane, grounded, and rooted in my faith. I’m so thankful that we’ve managed to keep up our friendships despite the miles that separate us. Marta Bonds and Lauren Ferguson have not only been great friends but have also shown me that it can be done! I’m so proud of you both and am excited to join your ranks. My extended family of in-laws, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents has continually blessed me with their prayers, encouragement, and support. I relish making them proud.
Mom and Dad, thank you for always encouraging me to do my best at everything. You’ve taught me many things, but your love for me is what I’ve always clung to. Thanks for raising me to take pride in myself and my work and for loving me no matter what! Elizabeth (aka. S.I.S.), thank you for giving me a reason to be a role model. I’m so proud of the woman you’ve become and so honored to call you my sister.
Nathan, I love you with all my heart. You married me knowing full and well the academic journey I was starting, and I appreciate you sticking through it with me. Your love, support, and knack for knocking sense into me has kept me both balanced and blessedly happy. And Rebekah – I know you have no idea that this is what Mommy has been doing during your naptimes, but thank you for sleeping well and amusing me when you woke up. Seeing your smile is always the highlight of my day.It is only appropriate that I save the most important for the end. Heavenly Father, thank you for your constant guidance, provision, and blessing. Thank you for leading me when I didn’t know where I was going. You have sustained me throughout this process, and I trust completely in Your will for my future.