“To my cat, Aloo, who always fell promptly asleep on top of every paper I tried to read.”

Scheduling a graduate defense is an enormous milestone that feels much more deliberate and meaningful than graduating from undergrad or even high school. Going to high school and college just seem like what you have to do: less of an independent choice than a social doctrine to which you must oblige. Getting my master’s is the first hurdle I really feel like I tackled on my own, for myself. It was not, however, by myself.

A graduate education is really a team effort, and the number of people “on my team,” so to speak, becomes more evident each time I create an acknowledgments slide in a presentation or scour another person’s thesis, comparing my format, page length, and content to theirs (as you do). The one common thread throughout all of the theses and dissertations I have examined is the thoroughness with which each author acknowledges their people. Is this an indication of procrastination running deep among graduate students (hey, it’s more fun to write your acknowledgments than it is to write your methods, am I right? I know I am because I am writing this while concurrently attending a thesis-writing retreat) or a deep-seated desire to remind our advisers that we are, in fact, human beings rather than manuscript-spawning machines? The acknowledgments and dedications affixed to most peoples’ graduate volumes range from humorous to tear-jerking, and are a nice reminder that the person who wrote them (hopefully) made at least one friend throughout their graduate years.

I have thoroughly enjoyed coming across some of these heartfelt dedications, so I’m going to list some of my favorites below. I’ve removed all names and identifying characteristics, so take a moment to revel in the fact that you are (A) not working on a thesis/dissertation right this moment, or (B) are in great company. 

 

Some of the best:

“To my husband. Thank you for understanding why your wife chased birds all night and went to school on the other side of Nebraska. I am home for good now.”

“To Big Fred.”

“To you as a reader.”

“This thesis is dedicated to the Gods of Rock. May they smile upon us always.”

“To my beloved wife and best friend, ____, whose example will forever inspire my human existence. (Wife) was murdered on the night of ____, a few hours after I began typing my first sentences for this dissertation.”

“To (child) who was distracting, but almost kept her promise of not learning to walk until mummy turned in her dissertation.”

“This thesis, as modest as it is, is dedicated to Hip Hop culture and the creative
perseverance that people exhibit in challenging situations.”

“This thesis is dedicated to whomever it may concern.”

“For my beloved companions, (two dogs), who remained by my side on many
a night into the twilight hours as this thesis took shape. My love for you is imbued in
every word.

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