Just a few days ago, I received emails from Pittsburgh service providers and a few of my interviewees who wrote to me to tell me that they’d read my thesis … and that they wanted to share it with others who may be interested. They were satisfied with the final product.

I received approvals from my thesis advisors, department heads, peers, and yet, these emails made me especially nervous. One of the fears I had prior to diving into this project was that I would not be able to produce a thesis that would be helpful to anyone. I wasn’t motivated to write a thesis that would only benefit me. I struggled to analyze the narratives of others and to present them in a way where the audience would perceive them the way I knew them.

The acknowledgement received by the interviewees meant a great deal to me; it allowed me to feel as though I had truly completed this project.

One of my interviewees wrote: “I just wished you had more participants for the interviews.”

So did I. When I made the last few revisions before submitting my thesis, I could not get out of my head how much more I could have done if I had just a few more voices represented. There were variables out of my control and I acknowledged that, but at the same time, I continued to imagine what I could have done with a few more months.

I’m grateful to have met so many incredible individuals in Pittsburgh through CMU FORGE and this research project. The voices within my thesis will are ones I cannot forget. The experiences of analyzing narratives and presenting these human experiences on paper and in the form of an oral presentation have challenged me in so many ways. I look forward to doing similar research in the near future, but for now, this projects has been completed.