It’s finished. It’s complete. It’s been sent off. My thesis turned Major Research Paper has been written, cried over, edited countless times, cried over again, emailed to my advisers, approved as the final version, and just last night I emailed it to the program director. My courses are complete. Term papers written galore. (Pending approval from the Program Director and Graduate Studies) I am done my MA!
Now to graduate in June! I have been envisioning the day for years… (2 years beyond what I was expecting, to be exact…). And A.J.’s outfit has been picked out for months. A Brock t-shirt and Laurier pants. I know red and purple clash, but I guarantee you she will be the cutest one there.
I have so much to be thankful for. I feel like this is my MA Oscar speech. So bear with me and don’t cue the music. Unless it’s some rockin’ party music.
God has taught me so much about perseverance and patience. Without grace, I would not be where I am today.
My adviser and second reader, Ann Duffy and June Corman, have been incredibly supportive over the last four years. There were times when I was stuck in a rut, or overwhelmed with work, or pregnant and throwing up with major baby brain (which truthfully I always thought was a myth. It’s not), or raising a baby, or returning back to writing after parental leave completely forgetting how to even cite properly, etc. and thought “they’re going to judge me for not being further ahead…” But they never did, and I always left my meetings with them feeling re-energized to get back at it. I can’t write a simple email now (or a blog post…) without their voices in my head helping me construct a better sentence or communicate with more clarity. Their encouragement is by far the best thing I experienced at Brock – especially after I encountered numerous instances of discouragement because I was conducting research from a feminist abolitionist framework – and I always felt that they had my best interests in mind.
Timea Nagy from Walk With Me has taught me more than I can ever imagine. I will never forget our first meeting at a Tim Hortons. She gave a naive, lost girl a chance (just like she does for so many lost ones!) and changed my life forever. Timea, I value our friendship. I miss our days (and our nights!) together, and I can’t thank you enough for giving me the opportunity to first conceptualize my research. Without you, my research would have been a million times harder, so I have you to thank for so much. Wine and tea soon, friend, now that I am finally done school!
My colleagues I met through my work with Walk With Me. Thank you for sharing your breadth of knowledge. For encouraging me to keep at my school (especially when I didn’t want to) so I could bring a different perspective to the work with victims and survivors. And for my colleagues through the Reformed Church in America, thank you for your understanding as I attempted to manage work and completing school.
Those who agreed to participate in my research: Naomi Krueger, Wendy Lee, Jacqueline Linder, and two other special individuals who wish to remain anonymous. Thank you for putting up with an eager student. I know how incredibly busy each of you are in your work and how many requests you get for interviews for research, so I am so humbled that you would agree to help me in my research. (P.S. after listening to your voices for hours as I transcribed our interviews, I must apologize for the number of times I said “so…” while interviewing you.)
My family… I truly could not have gotten through this – especially the last four months – without you. Spending so much time away from A.J. as I attended class, studied and wrote papers was made less painful knowing that she was in such loving care. I owe my parents and my mother-in-law so much, words can’t even describe. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
My family extends beyond blood. One of my favourite quotes is from Richard Bach, and this has never spoken so much to me as it did the last couple of months. My best friends, Rebecca and Constance, have been two of my biggest cheerleaders. Other friends and colleagues – including a team of individuals who I asked to keep me accountable in my writing last year – have been very understanding and supportive of my research and the time that it has taken to focus on completion.
Mark… You were supportive of me when I lost my job and decided to jump into this Masters program four years ago. You were supportive of me when I was gone for days on end with girls at the safe house. Or across the province. Or across the country. I missed meals, family events, and just time in general with you. You have encouraged me as you’ve pushed me to completion (despite asking “are you ever going to not be in school?!). You have been understanding the last couple of months when I have been stressed and grumpy. I am so excited that I now have more time to spend with you and our family. I love you so much, and I love that we’re partners in life together.
I chose to research the methods that pimps use to target, recruit and condition Canadian females for the sex trade because of the incredible survivors I have met. Their stories moved me beyond words. Yet, I had to find words to convey their experiences to others so we can be more effective in preventing other girls from being trafficked and better support those who have been trafficked and so desperately want to exit but face barriers and obstacles from those who lack understanding of their life stories. Victims deserve more unobstructed pathways to exiting the sex trade. And survivors need more understanding, empathetic and encouraging supporters in their lives. I pray this research helps further this.
When my brain and heart have had just too much of pimps, it makes me so joyful to see A.J.’s smile, her inquisitive nature, and her beautiful personality. I started my MA studies before I was ever pregnant with A.J. I started school for me – for increased job opportunities, to make myself more marketable, to feed into my love for learning. I am finishing school for her.