It’s probably going to be a little while before I get my full dissertation up online, so I thought I’d go ahead and post my acknowledgments here.

Immediately after the graduation ceremony at which I received my MSLS in 2011, I told my advisor that I would probably be back for the PhD sometime. Six years ago, I made good on that promise. Since I started the Master’s program in 2009, Sandra has been a constant mentor, colleague, and friend. Thank you so much, for more than I have the words to say.

I would like to thank my committee for their guidance and reflections from our first meeting to discuss the topics for my comprehensive examination package until today. Your support, especially as I navigated completing a dissertation during a global pandemic, has been invaluable. Casey, your advice and friendship has made this road so much easier than it would have been otherwise. Crystle, your work quite literally inspired this work and I’m grateful to have had you on my committee offering the unique insights from your own research. Heather and Brian, your ideas and questions have strengthened this work significantly. Thank you all. Thank you to my participants for sharing your experiences and insight with me. I can’t wait to see what you’re wearing when we can all go to cons again! Thank you also to the cosplayers who attended the November 2018 Final Fantasy: Distant Worlds concert at the DPAC. You sparked the idea that led to this dissertation.

I am grateful to the UNC Graduate School, SILS, IMLS, and the NSF for supporting me financially for six years and enabling me to work on incredible research with amazing colleagues like Dr. Maggie Melo and Laura March.

I’m thankful for my improv friends, who made sure I had fun during the first year and a half of this thing and served as guinea pigs for some of my earliest research.

I am so grateful for the families and teachers I met at Nido Coworking + Childcare. You are still my village. I want to thank my parents for instilling a love of learning in me and my siblings for enduring my pedanticism. I am grateful to all of them, as well as to my in-laws, for staying with Michael so I could attend class and write. Thank you extra to Laurie, who cared for Michael during the writing stage. Without your help, I would not be graduating in 2021.

Thank you to Michael, my big kid miraculous earth angel, for making me smile, filling my heart with so much joy I often think it will explode, and for being a living reason and reminder to do things besides school. And thank you to Will, who not only made sure I had shelter and food during this whole process, but also introduced me to the world of Final Fantasy and the beautiful music of Nobuo Uematsu, without which we never would have attended the concert that inspired me to choose this dissertation topic. I was able to do this whole PhD thing because I had you to catch all the balls I dropped, to remind me that we would get through it together when I was sure I couldn’t do it, and to make me laugh.