Outstanding Dissertation Award (Nov. 2009)

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No one was more surprised than I to hear that I’d won an Outstanding Dissertation Award from the National Communication Association in 2009. Elsewhere on this site (“Thank You” under “Blogs”), I have talked about the blood, sweat and tears that my family, advisers, partner and I put into this project. I’m so pleased that someone besides us thinks that it’s important and worth reading. I’m currently awaiting a review from a publisher to see if it can be adapted into a book manuscript for publication in late 2010. Fingers crossed...

In the meantime, here is some of what my adviser had to say about it: “Dawkins develops what might be called a Sophistic theory of passing as a rhetorical performance that, attentive to context, situation, and audience, strives to be fitting or appropriate (to prepon) and, when persuasive, generates doxastic knowledge of identity. Put even more briefly, and in Kenneth Burke’s dramatistic terms, Dawkins treats identity as an on-going process of forging identifications. This rhetorical turn is profoundly significant, as it opens a meaningful space for creative agency on the part of passers and their audiences alike… As Dawkins emphasizes in her opening and closing remarks, these matters could not be more timely given the historic campaign and election of our first mixed-race, African-American (passing-as-black!) president and the attendant question whether America has become a 'post-racial' society. Although this certainly is not a dissertation about Obama, Dawkins answers the question raised by his Presidency, emphatically, 'no'; she offers a reading particularly of his 'A More Perfect Union' address that understands it to be an invitation to frank, honest deliberation about the complexities and contradictions of race in America, and not to foreclose such deliberation as either wrongheaded or unnecessary. She is exactly right, I submit, about our historical moment and opportunity, and about the value of her study and approach in this moment. This study is exceptional, finally, in the writing, which is elegant and evocative. Dawkins has a real gift for artful turns of phrase and dense, almost poetic expression: so much so that readers accustomed to typical, turgid dissertation-ese at first may find her style a bit opaque. I confess that, early on, I encouraged her to be, essentially, more pedantic. Happily, I did not entirely succeed. Dwelling with her sparkling prose for a time is well worth the effort in order to appreciate fully its pregnant meaning.” I am humbled, truly, by these words from someone whose opinion I respect profoundly.

The real fun was had on November 14th at the 2009 NCA Convention in Chicago, Illinois. There I was presented with the award by the African American Communication and Culture Division. I had the privilege of being supported by my truly outstanding and gifted adviser from USC, Randy Lake, my partner and cheerleader, Harry Guillermo Mendoza, and my gracious department chair at CSUF, John Reinard. It truly felt like a family celebration. Here are some pictures from the event. I hope that you will enjoy them and celebrate with me. BTW…if you want to read excerpts from, or, if you’re among the really brave, my entire dissertation, please feel free to contact me. I’d be happy to share it with you and anticipate your feedback. Thanks for your support.

Receiving the 2009 Outstanding Diss Award

A few words of gratitude

Celebrating with mentors


The perfect thesis writing is wished-for by some students all over the world but during the academic lifetime we demand the dissertations or only legal dissertation reffering to this good topic.

Grandpa's book

WOW. You are incredible!!!! I am absolutely flummoxed. It will take me a week to read all you have done and then another month to understand it.

Go write your grandpa's book!!!!!!!!!

Love and great respect,


Dear Highly Favored Dr.

Dear Highly Favored Dr. Dawkins,

You are the only Ph.D that has ever studied under my tutelage when you were but a mere child. I will share the great news with my Allison who still teaches but will be in awe of what you have achieved.
Continue to use your talents wisely and be ever grateful for those who have been with you since the "beginning". Mom and Dad are special people. You have made many very proud! May God continue to bless you.

Bob, Jodi, Matthew

New Yawk rules!

Awesome! JUST got back on

Awesome! JUST got back on the "grid". Great to hear good news!


Proud in Queens, NY

It is said that "Success lies along the path of Decision,and up the hill of Endeavor, and across the bridge of Patience." Receiving the Dissertation award was the result of deciding well, endeavoring to achieve, and remaining focused. I enjoyed looking at the
pictures and am excited about your future.
Proud in Queens, NY,


It's so exciting to read that all your hard work has resulted in all these wonderful comments from experts in your field.
Can't wait to see your book in the shops in Amsterdam!



Congratulations Marcia!!! What an awesome award! It would be so cool if your dissertation can be adapted into a book manuscript. We will keep our fingers crossed for you too!! Don't forget us little people!! =D

Crint and Charrot

Congratulations Doctor!

Hello Marcia,

Randy, Taylor and I are so very proud of you for this extraordinary accomplishment, as well as for all that you have accomplished in the way of opening students' eyes (peers and otherwise) to new ways of looking at things.

I frequently thank God for crossing our paths in February 2007 at Annenberg School for Communication, as it brought new friendships into my life; created opportunities for me to "color outside of the lines" with respect to my own university guest lecture presentations; and it inspired our daughter to expand her understanding of the value of hard work and its many by-products.

Keep up the great example!

Janalyn W. Glymph, Ph.D.
General Manager, KLCS-TV

There was never any doubt!

Congrats, Congrats, Congrats! And I know this is just the begining! Does the world know?

You continue to be head & shoulders (and knees and toes) above the rest and inspire me, as always.


Marcia, Thanks for sharing


Thanks for sharing this! I always knew you would accomplish great things! Congrats!

Heather ( your old Villanova roomie)

Well done!

Lady Dawkins,

Congratulations!!! It is well-deserved. You are an amazing leader in this generation. Blessings! - Karen Tongol

Hey Doc!

Hey Dr. Dawkins, Congrats on the PhD. I did not know! That so cool. Yeah! I'm so happy for you and proud too:)

--William J. Strauss

Outstanding Dissertation Award (Nov. 2009)

WoooHooo, congratulations. Job well done !!!

XOX ..... Your Canadian cheerleading club :)


Congratulations Marcia! This

Congratulations Marcia! This is so exciting and you deserve it! :)

Chandler Ford

Congrats, Marcia!

Dear Marcia:

Congratulations on your award! In the brief time I've had the pleasure of knowing you, I've been moved and inspired not only by your intellect, but also by your knack for inspiring others to pursue knowledge. I can't imagine anyone more deserving of accolades!


p.s. I do look forward to more discussion of your dissertation, and more discussion in general!

New friends

Though we only know you in certain circles, it's obvious you stand untouched. You are able to engage us in everyday life with humility and kindness and still aspire to achieve great things. Only great works can come from such passion.

Much admiration,

Darrell and Ali

Congratulations, Marcia!

Congratulations, Marcia! Happy New Year, too.

Steve Mailloux

Big grins!

Big grins! I especially liked the post from your mom: Complete sentences at nine months, eh? Somehow I'm not surprised.


Well........Marcia Alesan

Well........Marcia Alesan Dawkins, Ph.D.
doesn't that look pretty. Congradulations sweetie. God has certainly blessed you. I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm not brave enough to read the whole thing...but would read the Monarch Notes :)) You worked hard, and deserve all the rewards. Good for you.

Carol Ludwiczak, for the family


Congratulations, Marcia! What a tremendous achievement. I look forward to reading the entire dissertation. I am proud to know you and have enjoyed getting to know you better. Your intellect, intuition, eloquence and grace is evident in everything you do.

-Kate S.

Congrats from old friends!

It seems like it was just yesterday that we last saw in Queens Village. It was in 1992. You were just a young girl. Now, a woman with a PH.D.
We're proud of you that you made it this far in life. Also, we congratulate you on your "Outstanding Dissertation Award". May your life continue to filled with meaningful and life-changing events. Blessings on your future endeavors.

Paul + Teresa Llopis


Hi Marcia, great posting, and once again... Many Congratulations & well done to you my friend!!!!

Congratulations on your award!

It is very inspiring and impressive to see you excel in what you do. Congratulations and keep up the good work!


YOU DID IT!! Since you were


Since you were nine months old, when you began to speak in sentences, I knew you were a a rare and unusual gift from God. You have no idea how proud I am of you. Even through all the impossibly hard times you continued on to your goal. Though there were many times I felt like a cheerleader, I just stood behind you and helped pushed you on to your goal. I'm still behind you, still cheering you on to all those wonderfully lofty goals you have. Keep it up. Don't ever give up. Don't ever take NO for an answer. Go through all the open doors, and open those that may still be shut before you. I love you and support you. Thanks to Harry for the wonderful job he's done on your web site. Grandpa would be so proud! :)


We always knew you had the

We always knew you had the talent and intellect for great achievement. Now that you are surpassing our dreams, we can't find words to express our adoration.
P. S. Yes, we are among the "brave" who would like a copy of the dissertation!!

Grandpa John and Grandma Jeri.


You are a one of a kind, profoundly smart, yet humble, real person. Te deseo lo mejor, te lo mereces.


Excellent work Marcia.

Excellent work Marcia. Congratulations!



That is what you are!!! I am so ridiculously proud of you!!! You are doing great work...keep it up!!!


Many Congrats!

Marsh... Many congrats. Again, you've managed to amaze and inspire me in the same moment. I'm keenly aware of all of the blood, sweat and tears you put into your dissertation, so it's fantastic to see that it's paid off far beyond the letters after (or before) your name.

You are truly deserving!





Great to hear about your award. I am sure you are truly deserving. I would love to read your dissertation but I might get lost in the "Sophistic theory of passing as a rhetorical performance." I would love to see your poetic style even I get lost in the content. Maybe I should read some excerpts first.

David Hino

Truly Inspiring!!

What a wonderful honor recognizing not only the quality of your research and writing, but its significance in advancing the conversation concerning the rhetorical dimensions of corporeally-defined identities. I look forward to reading the full manuscript, and am so happy to hear that your work received this important recognition. Many congratulations ;-)

Deborah Hanan


You are amazing!!!! I am so very proud of you! You are doing great things!

PJ Iacono

Dissertation Award

Evening Marcia!
Congratulations on this award! You are good!!!
OK if I post this information to our Online Faculty Community for
Wonderful news!


You are amazing!!! Keep up the good work! I am so very proud of you cuz and glad to be following in your footsteps at Villanova!

Kate Breen


I just want to say: Congratulations!!!