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A Dissertation Thank You List

This Friday I graduate from California Lutheran University with my EdD in Higher Education Leadership!

On the path to my doctorate I had crucial supporters, shepherds, and teammates that guided me to the finish. I am honored to acknowledge them here and share the impact they had during my entire life and on this research. This includes my family, dissertation committee, higher education community members and organizations, student affairs colleagues and classmates, and my family of friends.

First, I want to thank and commit this body of work to my family, my rock and light throughout this dissertation journey.
I want to thank my husband Lloyd, who held my hand and heart, lifted me with love and laughter, and dared me to push my life’s work to epic possibilities.
To my parents, Mike and Janet Hutchinson, for every breath of their encouragement, selfless sacrifice, and endless love throughout my life. I want to thank my brother, Cody Hutchinson, for being my first classmate and playmate as children and one my most significant sources of support. Thank you to my sister-in-law Suzi Hutchinson for her constant rays of sunshine and positive spirit.
Thank you to Kirk, Tim, Travis, Tiffany and Bruce Ahlquist who served as a resilient tribe providing care, curiosity, challenge and support.
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To my grandparents, Straitor and Elaine Clark both in this world and beyond, who passed on the tireless work ethic found in this dissertation and instilled the importance of pursuing higher education.Grandparents & Josie
This research would not have been possible without the crucial support of my dissertation committee.  Thank you to my chair Dr. Edlyn Pena who I greatly admire and who guided me through this life changing program at California Lutheran University. As a shero, she pushed me, and my research ideas to greatness and I knew at every step she cared for me as a student and professional.  2015-04-22 17.13.29To my methodologist and mentor Dr. John Hoffman, whose brilliance, patience and even humor has inspired my career path and ability to impact the field of Student Affairs. Finally, thank you to Dr. Diane Rodriguez-Klino for taking on a committee role while serving on a prestigious Fulbright position in Japan. I want to be like all them when I grow up: full of life, intelligence and ambition.

Skype screenshot with Diane and John into my dissertation defense

The entire higher education community also supported me profoundly. I would like to thank NASPA, especially Region VI that has provided me opportunities on the advisory board for leadership and learning since I was a graduate student. Thank you to the national NASPA office and the NASPA foundation, awarding this dissertation the 2015 Channing Briggs Research award.  Thank you also to the NASPA Student Leadership Programs Knowledge Committee for awarding me the 2015 Susan R. Komivez Research Award. Thank you to the NASPA Technology Knowledge Community for supporting my research and professional development. I would also like to thank ACPA for inviting me to serve on the Presidential Task Force on Digital Technology in Student Affairs. 10469140_10102997864781842_3875297590601405049_o
There were a number of colleagues I would like to specifically acknowledge that have been forces in my life, both professionally and personally.  Thank you to my fellow digital researchers, exploring social media in higher education and who offered constant encouragement to me: Ed Cabellon, Paul Gordon Brown, Paul Eaton, Adam Gismondi, Laura Pasquini, Rey Junco, and Greg Heiberger.  I thank the many others involved in digital education who have supported this research, and who I will join in collaborative causes to continue the dialogue: Jason Meriwether, Kristen Abell, Lisa Endersby, Matt Brinton, Marci Walton, Amma Marfo, Kathy Guthrie, Courtney O’Connell, Erik Qualman, Chris Conzen, Renee Dowdy, Tony Doody, Julie Payne-Kirchmeier, Grace Bagunu, Joe Sabado, Ann Marie Klotz, and Teri Bump.
I would like to thank the many personal learning networks on Twitter such as #SAchat, #SAdoc and #SAtech which have served as sounding boards, source sharing and cheering sections.11042666_587313657577_9019437966959472658_n
I would also like to thank my previous supervisor at LMU, Trey Duval, for supporting me to start my program and to successfully transition to that program full time.  Last, I thank my entire CLU cohort, especially ‘my person’ Shane Armstrong who served as my travel partner to class, editor and dear friend throughout the program.
I further extend my heartfelt appreciation to my family of friends. I want to thank a group of women that have cared for my spirit and well-being during this research and in my life including Ashley Hall, Maisha Beasley, Melissa Judson, Shannon Taylor, Lacy Schneider and Erika Stoeser.
To my family members of Mission IMPROVable, Aaron and Jill Krebs, Sean and Betsy Monahan, Sean and Anne Casey, Colin and Kristin Sweeney, Patrick and Renee McIntyre, Bryce and Jennifer Lyter, Chris Gorbos, Mike and Amanda Betette, thank you for the laughs, friendship and encouragement.
I must also thank the family of ERB – Epic Rap Battles of History including Peter Shukoff, Dante Cimadamore, Mary Gutfleisch, Sulia Lopez, Atul Singh and Michelle Maloney. Thank you for the study and writing breaks, taking my suggestions and the epic encouragement.

This was the team it took to write my dissertation and cross the finish to the doctorate.

I am forever thankful.


About Josie

I’m Dr. Josie Ahlquist—a digital engagement and leadership consultant, researcher, educator, and author. I’m passionate about helping people and organizations find purposeful ways to connect, engage, and tell their unique story. I provide consulting, executive coaching, and training for campuses, companies, and organizations that want to learn how to humanize technology tools and build effective and authentic online communities.

My blog and podcast have been recognized by EdTech Magazine, Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education. My book, Digital Leadership in Higher Education, was published in 2020 and was listed as a #1 new release for college and university student life. I have been growing my consultancy since 2013 and am based in Los Angeles. When I’m not helping clients lead online, you might find me training for a triathlon, spoiling my nieces and nephews, or exploring with my husband and our rescue dogs in our new RV called Lady Hawk.

I’d love to connect! Find me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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Rebekah Tilley

Assistant Vice President, University of Iowa Center for Advancement

Rebekah Tilley is the assistant vice president of communication and marketing for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement (UICA). In that role she supports fundraising and alumni engagement efforts for the university, including its CASE Gold winning Iowa Magazine, and serves UICA in a variety of strategic communication efforts.

Previously she was the director of strategic communication for the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business, and the director of communication for the University of Kentucky College of Law. She is a Kentucky native and a proud alum of the University of Kentucky.

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