PhD degree is a collective journey

What follows, it is an acknowledgment section of six pages. Six pages! Yes, because this PhD experience has been an entire-COLLECTIVE journey of crossing several oceans and a couple of deserts. It implied to unpack the many contradictions that hide within the exercise of studying Chile, social class, academia, from the USA. What a good lesson of remembering and gratitude!

Endless gratitude with my parents, Sara Baros and Juan Chiappa, for allowing me to create and spread my wings at an early stage of my life. They have supported my decisions unconditionally, even when these have contradicted their fundamental beliefs. From Copiapó -the land that limits the driest desert on Earth – Atacama Desert – to wherever I go, I walk with the certainty of their love, wisdom, and strength. Sara and Juan are the perennial versions of the desert flowers that bloom every four years thanks to the miracle of the rain.

I am heartfelt grateful with professor Maresi Nerad, my adviser. Her academic rigor, incommensurable support, and guidance across the years have awakened my interest to follow the professoriate path. Maresi, thanks in all the languages, to all what has shaped your life and allowed you to be who you are. You do not imagine how much your passion for learning, academic rigor, humility, and your giving spirit have modeled the path I am co-creating now with other colleagues.

I express my gratitude and acknowledgment to the professors that have contributed to my learning, particularly the ones who have provided feedback to the first drafts of this dissertation back in 2016. To professor Andrés Bernasconi, for his guidance, encouragement and understanding along the process; to professor William Zumeta for his detailed feedback and support in the multiple phases of defining research questions; to professor Elizabeth Sanders, for her guidance in statistical methods and her exemplary commitment to the learning of her students. Equally grateful of Dr. Mark Long who not only accepted to be the Graduate School Representative but also contributed significantly to refine my research questions and methodology at the early stages of this dissertation.

To the many professors and colleagues at the College of Education at the University of Washington, who played a mentoring role without even knowing it. Special thanks to the professors Joy Williamson Lott, Joe Lott, Kara Jackson, Mike Knapp, Manka Varghese, Jondou Chen, Janine Jones, and Megan Bang. The power of their smile brought back the sunshine to Miller Hall when the clouds were too dark in Seattle. Extremely grateful of Marty Howell, Norah Fisher, and the many students who have served for the Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion (OSDI). Each OSDI member has been an unconditional ally of this collective journey.

To cross oceans and deserts, funding is an essential resource. Thanks to the government of Chile and its fellowship program Becas Chile that funded the first four years of this doctorate program. Many thanks to the Office of Research and Information Services (ORIS), where I worked as a research assistant from 2012 to 2016. This job allowed me to generate extra economic resources and learn about the administration of research grants and the multiple stages of the scientific discovery.  Many thanks to my ORIS colleagues Robin Hendricks, Richard Fenger, Matt Portwood, Linda Gammon, who have always cheered me up, especially at the stages when I doubted that my ship would go through all the seasons. Likewise, I am incredibly grateful for the Office of Institutional Research at the College of Education, where I have worked as a research assistant for the last two years. Shanti Perumal and Melody Gilbert have given me the freedom and flexibility to complete this endeavor. I would not have finished this dissertation without their trust and understanding. A heartfelt thank you for both of you.

To my dear UW family and many academic colleagues in Higher Education. Gracias to the professor Angela Ginorio, who unconditionally have supported me from the very first day I stepped in at the University of Washington. Equally grateful and inspired by my peers with whom I discussed extensively social justice, geographical inequalities, our inner colonizers, and all the contradictions of studying a doctorate in the USA when you come from the south. To my UW peers, Kira Geselowitz, Somin Neon, Gabriel de Los Angeles, David Phelps, Elba Moise, Jitpitcha Jarapayun, Ammara Kimso, Ellita Williams, Lorena Guillen, Cristina Gaeta, Emma Elliot, Daisy Alfaro, Miguel Jiménez, Weijia Wang, and many others, who held my hand when I doubted, and raise(d) their voices to speak up for what they believe. They, their stories, without even attempting it, have restored my trust in the power of collective and the role of research in re-distributing opportunities toward the ones who have historically been marginalized.

Big thanks to Sharon Stein (University of British Columbia), whose encouragement and vision inspire me to bring my critical voice back in my research agenda. To Cathy Gibson (Montana State University), Manuel González-Canché (University of Pennsylvania), Anita Gopal (University of Maryland), Sara Bano (University of Michigan), because I have learned through them how it is to stay loyal to their values while they transform the USA academia into a more welcoming space for everyone.

Special acknowledgment to the EU-funded Marie Curie Project University in the Knowledge Economy. This initiative allowed me to participate in summers schools in Portugal, New Zealand, and Denmark and connect with generous peers and professors. To Roger Dale, Susan Robertson, Susan Right, Corina Balaban, Jakob Williams Ørberg, Miguel Lim, Janja Komljenovič, and Sintayehu Alemu, thank you. Equally grateful of the opportunities given by the University of Kassel and the German Center in Higher Education Research and Sciences Studies and their researchers, with whom I continue discussing about academic careers and the stages of scientific development in different nations.

To my many colleagues living in Santiago and the southern part of Chile that are members of the RIECH –Network of Chilean Researchers in Chilean Education-. Special thanks to Daniela Véliz and Paulina Pérez who founded this organization, and whose friendship and professional guidance have contributed significantly to my understanding about the academic career in Chile. Paulina also became a close collaborator. Her rigor, passion for learning and statistical skills have been fundamental in this journey. Gracias amiga! Likewise, Ana Luisa Muñoz-García, Ivan Salinas, Juan Pablo Queupil, and Andrea Lira have fed the fire along the way. Thank you, because your hunger for justice have fed mine.

To the love and examples of my family and friends currently living in Copiapó. Conjointly to my parents, they were and continue being my first teachers of the scientific method, creativity, and passion. Tía Nélida, primita Claudette and primito Nibaldo, my high school friends -Claudia, Priscilla, Denisse, Yenny and Carolina-; all my dear uncles and aunts, my many cousins, my Nona, and my grandparents Pedro, Ema and Tito that already passed.

Thanks to my dearest Chilean and universal family of friends in Seattle. To my soul sisters Rukmini and Aliza, whose love, companionship and support were essential during the first years of starting this journey. No matters how many kilometers separate our bodies, our hearts are close. To Cesar Peña, for his friendship, vision and musical skills that contributed to create The Cumbieros band. To all the Cumbieros members, because my experience in Seattle would not be the same without their music and all the friends, I met dancing cumbia. To Gonzalo Thienel and Rodrigo Rodríguez for their genuine friendship, wisdom, and willingness to unpack their inner colonizers. To Ismael Castro, for being a teacher of profound lessons that changed my life forever. To Gabriela Castro and Claudio Mourgues, because their decision of celebrating love and joy is a good reminder of our agency. To Ursula Mosqueira and Camila Tejo, for dancing and sharing the travel of healing. To Mónica Zepeda and Luis Sobarzo, because their example of resilience, resistance, and love always reminds me of the horizon for social justice and our option to exert it at any moment.

To my friends that are walking the path of academia while they commit with a larger project of love for life and community. To Rebeca Caribeña, Bert Kempfe Camila Tobar, Benjamin Palacios, Indre Bar, Felipe Sandoval, Maru, Pancho, María Eugenia Rojas, Tomas Arenas, Francisca Gómez, Felipe Lagos, Barbara Droguett, Alejandro… all your joy, tears of laughter and their natural enjoyment for sharing have nurtured my soul so many times.

To Eva Lombard, because her trust and affection helped me to complete the year of 2018. To the special ones, Merz family -Shanta, David, Erika, and Martin- for their help, emotional and material support. The last part of this journey would not have been as unique and balanced without them.

To my dearest soul-siblings Sol Clavería (nature), Karin Baeza (all is perfect), Marijo Sandoval (trust), Eduardo Muñoz (let it go), Michel Riquelme (I am always here), because their wisdom and love rescued me in the darkest nights, and continue rescuing me and reminding me that we are all mirrors from each other. To Jill Twist, because her writing skills and encouragement were invaluable source of inspiration along the process.

To my soul sisters and allies living in Seattle, with whom I have spent most of the time in the last years of this journey. To Iris Viveros (Muxer Remolino), one of my favorite dancers… Her fire has warmed up the coldest snowy days in Seattle. To Debi Talukdar, whose wisdom and inquiry, have reflected the light in me when I have not seen it. To Ziyan Bai (我爱你), with whom I have walked a similar path since the very first day of the journey. No words can describe our universal sisterhood. To Susanna Damgaard, the walker of life. Sue and I co-created the home I want to preserve forever. To María Vignau, mirror and ally in all dimensions, dancer and sociologist of the south. To Erika Merz, because her love and spirit has brought the sunshine back in the rainy days. The existence of all of these beings demonstrate the power of the smile. Thanks to them… for resisting, trusting, dancing through the storm, loving and giving it all.

To my dear dance tribe that gathers at Om Culture, one of my favorite places on Earth. To the collective and each one of you that creates the intention of liberation through movement. To Scott for his endless generosity. Scott has held the tribe members along all spectrum of seasons. To Carol, Ron, and Jim, the wisest members of the tribe. Their understanding of the fragility of life have deepened my sense of gratitude.

To the first nations of the Pacific Northwest… I have benefited from their struggle, generosity, and wisdom of protecting their lands, coast and animal persons. To all the beings and processes that came before me and allowed me to receive an education. To all the people and hearts that have shaped my thinking and ways of relating… and the billions of billions of factors and interactions that have occurred at this land (Seattle). That endless and contradictory chain of synchronicities allows me to be here, now, in this body, completing this journey, more aware that the PhD was only a path to see that we are all one.


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