Thank You...

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version
Earning a Doctorate in Rhetoric and Political Communication at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication has been steeped with prospects for professional and personal development. In large part due to the setting, Los Angeles, I have enjoyed the privilege of getting to know many amazing people from all walks of life.

For the delight of community, and for the pleasure of thinking and rethinking my work with people I like, I have to thank Kate Pieper, Rebecca Herr-Stephenson, Jeff and Amber Hall, Deborah Hanan, Karen Bowdre, Marc Choueiti, Amy Granados, Ric Whitney, Kasia Anderson, Ulli K. Ryder, and Richard J. Lawrence, Jr. In the middle of USC Annenberg we created an extraordinary haven of intellectual and personal honesties. I never thought graduate school would afford me the honor of knowing people of such strength, power, and complication. A special “shout out” to Ulli and Richard, whom I thank for introducing me to the power of open source culture and, by consequence, teaching me the futility of intellectual property and the pleasures of partnership. I carry their friendship with me as I begin my professional journey with my new colleagues and students at California State University Fullerton, who have given me a reason to finish and who have made me a special part of their outstanding learning community.

I am especially indebted to my committee for not only reading my work and challenging my ideas, but also for exemplifying, in their work and in their lives, the truth of what it means to be a scholar. I want to thank Randy Lake for his uncompromising support and for always reminding me of the virtue of integrity despite the value of trendiness. I will always be grateful for his insistence on honesty, exactitude, and self-responsibility. I also thank him for the rare gift of being a mentor who cared enough about my growth not to provide answers, especially when those answers would have made things easier. I’d like to thank Tom Goodnight for believing in my work and its importance, for being my fierce advocate, and for always treating me as an equal. I thank George Sanchez for his smile, his leadership and, most importantly, for being a teacher in the finest sense of that word—a person whose challenge appears in the form of respect.

I would also like to thank my unofficial committee members: Steve Mallioux, Sandy Green, Stacy Smith, and Colleen Keough. I thank Steve for providing a fresh perspective on my work from a mixed race perspective and also for convincing me of the transformative power of rhetorical analysis. I thank Sandy for teaching me the importance of managing expectations. I thank Stacy for insisting that I always remember who I am, what I want, and especially what I can give to others. I’d like to thank Colleen for reminding me to slow down and be quiet, especially during the process of negotiation. I hope these words adequately express my admiration and thanks for their time and energy, the way they conduct themselves, and the ways they have shared their magnificent lives with me.

I’d like to thank Harry Guillermo Mendoza for his love and laughter and for the gift of binding together the pleasures of hard work and trust. I’d like to thank Scott Calhoun for being my friend and voice of reason. I’d like to thank Jason Woodson, Richard Cornish, Shinina Butler-Nance, Amy Rilling and Ivette Lora for their unceasing friendship, honesty, and willingness to take late night phone calls. I’d also like to thank my best cheerleaders Janielle Matthews and M. Sara Owen for taking this journey with me from London and Paris respectively and for our shared experience of growing up and into women we actually like and respect.

Now comes the hard part. It’s nearly impossible to express my gratitude to a family whose unconditional love and faith in me continue to provide the grace that keeps me going and growing. My heartfelt thanks goes to my sister Lindsay for being there always and without questions, for moving to California (in part) to get me through this process and for being my lifelong best friend. I extend my eternal appreciation to my aunts, uncles, and cousins, especially my cousin Kate Breen and my aunts Leticia Suarez and Peggy Retchin, for helping me in the real labor of finishing—the hours of time invested in editing this dissertation. These acknowledgments would be incomplete without also expressing my gratitude to my late uncle José Matos, whose brilliance, openness, and courage in the face of insurmountable odds inspired me to go to graduate school in the first place.

I’d like to thank my parents, Olga and John Dawkins, for giving me stories and leaving me the legacy of a love for teaching and conducting original research that matters. They, more than anyone else, have taught me that at the end of the day my only real possessions are family, faith, integrity, my Word, and the pleasure of learning with and from outstanding students—like Ryan Houston, Zainah Alfi, Brad Silnutzer, Tiffany Anastopolous, Rune Huang, Lauren Moore, Saira Zia, Marlene Vigil, Justin Feldman, Nicolas Gonzalez, Sean Miura, Elizabeth Hoberman, and the incomparable Omar Bahgat. In their own way each of these students has taught me that what I do best is tell stories and that I should use that gift not to tell the story that gets the most awards, but instead the one that makes the most difference. I’d like to thank Olga Cardona Matos and Geraldine Ervin Wilson, my grandmothers, for being survivors, for keeping the faith and for teaching me that role models don’t have to be on TV and can have either an eighth grade education or two Master’s Degrees.

And finally, I’d like to dedicate this project to my Grandfather, not only for being the coolest 98-year-old I know, but also for being the only 98-year-old I know who still carries a passion for intellectual rigor that pushes me to think forward while acknowledging the past. It is because of my Grandfather, the first member of my family who chose not to pass as either white or black, that I am able to write and defend what appears in the pages that follow. I am also grateful that his life continues to be a walking argument for finding the Divine in the process of work and for seeing God’s hand in everyone and everything. In the end, I dedicate this dissertation to him: to and for Rev. Rafael Matos Sr., with all my love, respect and awe…always.

Dissertation Award!!

Well, hello Marcia!! How nice to have crossed paths with you at USC and at Haverford! I saw this coming in you two years ago, and I am pleased, but not at all surprised that an awards committee saw it too! Hooray!

Emma Lapsansky