It’s funny to me how we write acknowledgements for research papers. There’s this small space somewhere on the front (or last) page, dedicating a few lines to acknowledge those who contributed something to the research study but not enough to be considered co-authors. I did what most researchers do: provide the names of those who helped me in ways like provide comments or review stimuli. Ain’t it a shame though that the people who affected me in meaningful ways don’t get to be acknowledged?
When I started designing my first neurolinguistics study, my father, halmonee (Korean for grandmother), and grandfather were still on this earth. The study took about three years from development to publication. And in those three years, all three of these important people in my life returned to the eternal home. My dad left this earth while I was presenting the first set of results in my first talk ever. Then, my halmonee finally succumbed to rest just a few days after my first qualifying defense (a formality where PhD students defend their research to a committee). I was preparing this study for publication when my grandfather passed away. I missed out on all of the opportunities to share with them the results of my work. They will never know how much their work ethic and strength has made me who I am, or how their love has guided me to be where I am. My first publication is very much dedicated to them.
There are also people who are still in my life who helped me persevere through the research process amidst successive, significant losses. Unfortunately, they were also people I did not recognize in the acknowledgments—so I acknowledge them here. The first is my mother. She was with my dad and grandfather when they left; and, she was my grandmother’s only biological daughter. Her responsibilities to all three in facilitating their transition would have broken most people, and yet she promised me that she would find happiness through it all.
The second is a tie between my friends Aary, Alicia, Ashleigh, Courtney, Curtis, Ildi, Jacquelyn, Joe, Tansu, and Yoonji. Each one of these beautiful people went above and beyond in supporting me through each loss. Their love, knowledge, and care helped me in both my emotional and practical needs. And finally, I want to acknowledge a few faculty in my department who showed sensitivity and care. Renée Blake has been THE aunty for me, always having my back and making time to talk when I needed it the most. Anna Szabolcsi gave me the space I needed to fulfill family duties and grieve, taking on my teaching responsibilities and checking in on me as a person (and not just her teaching assistant). I should mention she knows where to get the most delicious pies in New York City! I also recognize Ailís Cournane, Laurel MacKenzie, and Gary Thoms for trusting in my process, allowing me to take the time and space I needed to work through all the grief (and other unfortunate circumstances that also occurred) such that I could later return on the intellectual work I had promised.
Thank you all. I love and admire each and every one of you.