Most importantly, none of this could have happened without my family. My grandmother, who offered her encouragement through phone calls and letters every week – despite my own limited devotion to correspondence. With her own brand of humor, [ Name Surname ] has been kind and supportive to me over the last several years. To my parents and my sister– it would be an understatement to say that, as a family, we have experienced some ups and downs in the past three years. Every time I was ready to quit, you did not let me and I am forever grateful. This dissertation stands as a testament to your unconditional love and encouragement.