From the desk of Dr. Joanna Marie Pinto-Coelho, PhD:
In preparing my dissertation for electronic deposit today, I realized that my acknowledgements section was five single-spaced pages long. Not quite as long as my other chapters, or even my bibliography, but pretty close. No one accomplishes anything alone, so I wanted to share this big moment with everyone who helped me get here. Please enjoy the full text of my acknowledgements below.
Dissertations can be lonely undertakings, but I have a lot of people (and places and things) to thank for helping me with mine.
First, my chair, Camille Charles, for letting me make my own mistakes and for toughening me up. My committee, Grace Kao, Emilio Parrado, and Tukufu Zuberi. And the world-class Sociology and Africana Studies office crew: Teya Cambell, Carol Davis, Audra Rodgers, Aline Rowens, and Marcus Wright.
My grandparents, Mark and Margaret Wittels: Without you, I would be a garbage human being. Everything I do, I do to make you proud, including the things I do that are weird, which are probably things that Grandpa would approve of (like dancing to the music in department stores to embarrass Mom). This degree is for you guys, for years of goldfish and ice skating and Zoombinis and tennis and carrot cake and classical music and field trips and articles about astronomy and Wheaties and Raffi and Kevin John Park.
My parents: Thank you for giving me books and art supplies, sending me outside to run around and play in the dirt, playing music in the house, and letting me make friends with any kind of person I wanted to. Even though I used that freedom to sprint around the house while reading a book, thereby suffering a huge gash on my forehead, I learned from that, and I learned a lot of other things, too. Chief among those things was that curiosity was good, and that I could feed my ravenous nerd brain with more books, more music, more people, more writing, and that’s what got me here.
Mom: Regardless of how much I’ve changed since I had a curly mullet and wore a lot of corduroy jumpers, there’s still a big part of me that’s the girl who would come home from pre-school covered in mud and paint when all the other kids were perfectly clean. I’ll always color at least a little bit outside the lines. I know that’s scarier for you now that I’m twenty-nine than it was when I was four, but you’re always there for me anyway, and I can’t tell you how much that means to me. Thank you for your constant support.
Papai: You’ve helped me through graduate school the same way you taught me how to drive, which was terrifying for Mom but great for me. It’s all about being aware of what’s going on around you, but not letting it dictate what you do — acting instead of reacting, making moves for yourself instead of cowering in the right lane, scared of what other people might do. Thank you for your advice, your Latino IT support, and your really good Italian wine. I’m so lucky to have you on my team.
Tom: Thank you for everything you’ve done for me, and for Mom, since I was a wee lass of seventeen.
Kristen: Thank you for all our venting sessions, your recommendations for things to read, and the infinite parade of tasty phuds. You are becoming an incredible therapist, and you’re already the world’s best researcher. I’m lucky that you’re also the most awesome friend.
Gabriella and Jimmy Day: Thank you for sending me daily pictures of Olli and Finn, likely the most photographed dogs in the world, as a form of sustenance, and for making me take breaks from all this to play with you guys. It has been a privilege growing up with you, Gabi, and it is pure joy acting like a child with you, James.
Uncle Marcio and Tracey: Thank you for taking in an itinerant nerd during her hour of need. I had so much fun spending six weeks with you.
Trevor and Jake Duffles: Thank you guys for being my brothers – the cool artist one who introduces me to new music and then asks me for advice about his apartment, and the nerdy goof who needs to stop playing with his phone at the table just give me the thing now and you can get it back after dinner don’t make that face at me I love you shut up and eat your vegetables.
Vovó: Espero ser como você um dia: a rainha, que pode dizer tanto com uma expressão. Obrigada por sua amor e sua fé.
Steve Wittels and Natalie Neumann: Thank you for nights full of Natalie’s gin, cheese, and salad; for Steve’s perfectly cooked red meat; for Renaud’s drones; and for our collective survival instincts despite a brutal summer, an even more brutal winter, and an even more brutaler initial living situation that required us to move a month after I drove up from Philly. I miss working and also “working” on the porch with you guys.
Auntie Sam and David: Thank you for all the powwows, boat rides, and days in the control room…and trips to the circus, the Daffy Duck voice, stories about my parents in college…really the list goes on. Thank you for being my non-parental parents, now and always.
Caroline Willis: Thank you for a place to call home, countless cosmos, and the best conversations ever. Your faith in me means so much.
Toni Jauregui: It’s been seven full years since some slight acquaintances moved in together after they happened to graduate from the same college, and look at us now. I will never be able to watch iCarly, eat sugar cookies, listen to Taylor Swift, and throw myself on the floor while having a panic attack in such a clean and judgment-free zone as I did on Walnut or Ellsworth. And it will never be as easy to hunker down in a 300-square-foot walk-up, eating brownie batter and binge-watching Buffy, as it was with my Lil T. Thank you for being such an amazing roommate and friend.
Dan and Annie Greene: I’m so glad Dan found you, Annie, and that you married him. It was a great way to make sure you and I are never separated since, as you advertise to anyone who will listen, I really am your friend now, even though Dan and I have known each other since we were twelve. Thank you both for making sure I never take anything, including myself, too seriously. Also thank you for moules frites, Buxom Lash, and letting me crash on your couch whenever I do that weird thing called “having fun.”
Amanda Preston-Sicari: Thank you for pushing me when I needed it most, and for nursing me when that was what I needed most. Thank you for lending me your family, the blue-eyed Bergs and Prestons I love so much, as well as my soul-twin Jenny, your lovely wife Adrianna, and the gregarious Bailey. And thank you for Boston.
Anne Kauth: My beautiful pliable blonde-haired sunfish. We have come so far. You have so many gifts, one of which is how you could make me feel like a really cool, interesting, sophisticated, and smart woman taking over the world while I was actually just curled up on your couch in the fetal position, cross-eyed from data cleaning and chapter revising, and wearing the same leggings and sweatshirt I had been wearing for the last three days. Thank you for your buoying sweetness, your effervescent positivity, and your iron will. I hope someone unearths this during your Senate confirmation hearing to become a Supreme Court Justice, or during your presidential campaign, or while you’re being vetted as the president of Wellesley, and that your subordinates secretly call you “sunfish” behind your back thereafter. #cubelove
Katherine Faigen and Brian Livingston: If I ever fall into a coma, I hope my mind exists, in its suspended state, in your living room, with you guys and wine and cheese and something Katherine made for dinner. You have been so supportive and wonderful throughout this endless tunnel. I love you stupid much.
Tommy Anderson and Aaron Lake: When three chipper sunshiney people like us come together, I feel like we’re a Lisa Frank cartoon come to life, and flowers bloom around us while we walk from the car to McKay’s Used Books. Thank you so much for being so positive, so supportive, and so generous with your apartment and your doggies all these years.
Leslie Jones: We are an incredible team, if I do say so myself. Thank you for whipping me up when I get tired and complacent and engrumpened, and also for calling me on my you-know-what. You are an inspiration. I wish I had your energy and your tolerance (and sometimes, lack thereof) for the onslaught of BS that comes with doing racial justice work. We’re similar in a lot of ways — we enjoy a good discount homegood, a cute dog, and a nice long sleep — but somehow you got your heart set on fire, and I’m glad. Your family, your friends, your students, and your mentees are all so lucky to have you, and I am so privileged to share a Pinterest board with you.
Sarah Spell: Thank you for our Gchats, your top-flight gifs, years’ worth of Ash Wednesdays, all the cooking and baking we have done, and other people’s cooking and baking that we have shamelessly consumed. Your incisive wit, your honesty, and your recommendations for what shows to play in the background while cleaning data have saved my life on countless occasions. The nation’s capital is lucky to have you.
John Mathwin: Thank you for teaching a cocky little fifteen-year-old how to write better. I swear to the god of CAP that I think about you every time I write something, which is almost every day. And I definitely think about you every time I edit or grade something, because I wish you, your red pen, and your HOPE TO COPE coversheet on every single person who has ever used a word processor. You are a gift, sir. I will never forget you.
Lansing Freeman (Freeman, Freemie, etc.): For helping me stay sunshiney bright when I thought I couldn't, for not letting my dad make you drink, for the soccer talk, for teasing me relentlessly, and for withstanding relentless teasing from me (especially re: spousal candidates), thank you so much. Let's be friends till we're dead.
Nate Wright: Thank you for introducing me to this whole sociology thing in the first place, and for being such an excellent friend. You are a wonderful person to look up to.
My Mellon family: Including but not limited to oasis of support Vanessa Christman (and her family, the Newmans, whom I hold so dear); buzzing nimbus of third-person energy Mary Osirim; human sass vessel Cally Waite; idealistic, inspirational, and infinitely patient Jody Cohen; and the late, great Karen Tidmarsh: wearer of amazing clothes, maker of amazing jokes, and dispenser of amazing wisdom. Thank you for helping me figure out that I wanted to do this, and thank you for helping me do it. All sorts of simultaneously appreciative and fortifying hugs to my fellow fellows, who are too numerous to name here, especially the fellows I mentored as a grad student coordinator. You thought I was helping you, because that’s what I was getting paid to do…JOKE’S ON YOU GUYS, mostly you just made me feel better while we ate free food together. You constantly blew my mind, and in so doing, made me realize I could do this. It takes a village, and if there was ever a village to get a lady through college and grad school, it’s Bryn Mawr.
I want to make sure I thank my alma mater, Bryn Mawr College, for believing in me and developing every last aptitude it could pry out of me with fieldstone, feminism, and four crazy years. I could easily list thirty pages’ worth of Mawrtyrs to thank (in addition to the ones I’ve already thanked), but I’ll keep it to Peaches Valdes ’99, who admitted me; David Karen and Bob Washington, who taught me Sociology; Kim Cassidy, who taught me Psychology, was a standout provost, and is now our amazing president; Judy Balthazar, my dean; Megan Smith ’10, my one-time roommate and all-the-time friend; Saskia Subramanian ’88, my soulmate/mentor/pal; Millie Bond ‘05, Bob Miller, Christian Myers, and Julie Shaon ‘12, my buddies in Alumnae Relations and Development; and finally, Elisa Espiritu ’01, Kierstin Gray ’01, Kelsey Harris '13, Archana Kaku '14, Nikki Lopez ’10, Nydia Palacios ’09, and Tiffany Shumate ’08, my friends and inspirations.
Marie Mallet: For being the best co-author a human could ever pray for, merci beacoup. J'espère que nous travaillons ensemble pour toujours: Berlin, Londres, Madrid, New York, Oxford et Stanford sont les nôtres. Je ne peux pas attendre pour rencontrer votre fille.
Thank you to the boys I grew up with, who are still my family today: Sebi Brown, Jon Carney, Walker Davis, Russell Forman, Martin Gilbert, Dan Greene, Bakri Mohamed-Nur, Chris Wilhelm, and Charlie Woo. You’re always ready with a hug, a caipirinha, and a slightly distracted conversation over FIFA, and that’s all I really need in the world.
I’d like to give even bigger thanks, though, to the women those boys have somehow managed to pull into their orbit, women I’m so lucky and so happy to know and love and steal away from their significant others whenever I get the chance: Annie Greene, MJ Harwood, Megan Healy, Kasey Mitchell, and Kat Murphy. Benjamin Franklin once said that beer was proof that God loved us and wanted us to be happy. I disagree. I think you ladies are that proof.
A very special thank you to Wallis Fournier and the other amazing ladies at SGT Inc., including Karen Boyle, Jacqueline Fummey-McCoy, Shelley Johnson, Victoria, and Wasana Noiwan, for giving me a chance and then welcoming me into the family.
A big hug, a juicy piece of gossip, and heartfelt thanks to Shea Megale. Writing like an academic for so many years dulled my edge in fiction, but you brought me back to my roots, introduced me to the wonderful Writers of Chantilly (especially Denice Jobe and Nick Bruner), and started teaching me everything you know. Everything we do is power, and we’ve only just begun.
Thank you to Dr. Heidi Wittels, who realized at the end of my second year of grad school that gluten was causing the crippling migraines I’d been having since I was ten. You gave me a huge part of my life back.
I need to thank everyone at Apple. I love your hardware, I love your software, I love your user interface, your design aesthetic. Thank you for letting me shake and cry in the Ardmore Apple Store when I spilled an entire Klean Kanteen of water all. over. my keyboard. and then fixing it up within the week. And for not judging me when I referred to my laptop as “her” or “Alice.”
Streaming video — especially you, Netflix, you gorgeous scarlet temptress — thank you for distracting me, for keeping me company while I code, but mostly for telling me stories, which is what I live and die for at the end of the day.
Special shout out to Precise V5 Rolling Ball Extra Fine pens, the only pens I’ve used since I was fifteen (and to Anna Murphy, for introducing them into my life).
Philadelphia: I may be gone, but you are not forgotten. Our love is one for the ages. I will gaze up at the ceiling of 30th Street Station, swoon over your skyline, and throw up a bad chicken cheesesteak any day of the week. I even love you when weird smells waft up with clouds of hot air from your sewer grates in the winter. Thank you for being the place where I became a city mouse.
Boston: Thank you for teaching me that I can survive anything, including thirty feet of snow. I could have been a little Brazilian matchstick girl, but there was so much to fortify me, including but not limited to the discovery of oatmeal, learning how to troubleshoot ancient boilers and radiators, and re-watching seasons one and two of Fixer Upper until I could recite them word-for-word. Also, of course, assorted best friends and family.
DC: You are always there when I need you. You’re sweltering in the summer, you can’t handle snow in the winter, and right in between, you light up with cherry blossoms. You’ve managed to hold onto my parents; my grandma; assorted aunts, uncles, and cousins; and most of the boys. That counts for a lot with me. Whenever I’ve come home to you before, I sit in traffic on the beltway with a s***-eating grin on my face. That’s how much I love you. Thank you for everything from 1987 till now.
Last, but certainly not least, thank you to the following artists and composers I’ve listened to while working over the last seven years: The Civil Wars, Elenowen, the Harry Potter film soundtracks (composed by Alexandre Desplat, Nicholas Hooper, and John Williams), Oh Wonder, Ed Sheeran, Luke Sital-Singh, and, of course, Taylor Swift.