Thursday afternoon at 3:10, I got the official word. I passed. I freaking passed my dissertation defense. I never thought I'd see the day. Though I was insanely anxious in the hours leading up to my defense, I felt the weirdest sense of calm come over me a few minutes before I started. (I completely attribute this to all the prayers and positive thoughts people were sending my way.) I won't lie, there was an intense amount of anxiety as the committee deliberated and I stood out in the hallway, but when my chair came out with a handshake and "Congratulations, Doctor," I almost couldn't believe it. I did it.
This whole thing has been a crazy ride. There have been so many ups and downs, it's hard to believe I'm this close to being done. As the hours have passed since Thursday, it's started to sink in more and more, and as I've celebrated with friends and family, it's begun to seem more real. I did it; I really did it. But I didn't do this whole thing alone, I had an insane amount of love and support from friends and family, and because of that, I wanted to share the dedication portion of my dissertation. It was by far the best part of the paper to write, and I've reread it a thousand times, giving thanks for the people who helped get me through. A big thanks also goes out to all of my blog readers who have sent words of support and encouragement along the way. However small they seemed to you, they meant the world to me!
This dissertation has been an incredible labor of energy and determination. Though my name is printed on the title page, many more deserve to have their names listed there, as this project wouldnot have happened without the love and support of so many. I want to first thank my husband, Matt, for his unending support and guidance. You are my partner in both personal and professional pursuits, and I am continually inspired and blessed by your love and desire for us to dream big. To my parents, who have provided me with unlimited opportunity and support. You have always encouraged me to follow my heart, staying close beside me for moments when I feared and wondered, “Can I really do this?” Without your guidance and love, I would be lost. To my brother Ryan, one of the biggest influences on my life, thank you for inspiring me in ways you will never know. You motivate me to step outside my comfort zone and embrace life for all it has to offer. To my friends and extended family, I am so grateful for your encouragement and influence over the course of my life. Even when I am unsure of what I need, you know my heart and remind me of what matters most. I am beyond grateful.
Thank you to Dr. Castillo, who in many ways, has been an unexpected but incredible source of support through this process. You believed in me when it seemed no one else did, and I cannot thank you enough for your ability to both challenge and support me, a balance that is always difficult to find. Thank you to my committee members, for your guidance and support during this project. Lastly, thank you to my Access family, who has been a continual source of inspiration and support for the past five years. You have been a safe haven in the face of sometimes daunting obstacles, and I am forever grateful for the impact you had on my personal and professional development.
I'm off to soak up the rest of the weekend and celebrate until I'm blue in the face. I've whispered to Matt at least ten times since Thursday, "I defended my dissertation," and I can't help but smile each time I say it. This whole thing is living proof that with a whole lot of hard work and determination, even the impossible is possible!