I believe your defense is a week from this Friday. So, soon you’ll defend your dissertation, reach the end of a long journey. But Gabe, man, how about that! You’ll have your Ph.D.—Dr. Gabriel Plummer—not even sure for most of that journey that you really wanted to get your Ph.D. Well, I just want to get out in front of that, because I can’t wait to say how proud I am, how incredibly impressed I am, and how much I deeply admire what you have accomplished.
You didn’t just get your Ph.D., you had to switch schools after two years, and after completing the graduate coursework for organizational psychology at Georgia Tech, you had to complete the graduate work in communications at Northwestern.
You didn’t just get your Ph.D., you worked on the mission to Mars, for crying out loud. You ran a major lab, mentored students, brokered compromises and solutions among high-powered academics, worked out so many problems that must have seemed, at times, far from advancing your own cause.
You didn’t just get your Ph.D., you traveled the country and around the world with your work. You also made some incredible friends—people who really came to know you well, people who appreciated who you are, people who genuinely cared about you, people who encouraged you when you needed it, people who lifted you up, people who celebrated you.
You didn’t just get your Ph.D., you moved from Atlanta to Chicago and formed an even closer adult relationship with your brother in Ann Arbor. You lived with him while you worked one summer, you spent countless weekends together, went to festivals together, played kickball together, and played I don’t know how many hours of complicated games of strategy. You made that happen Gabe, you brought that about, don’t think I didn’t notice. That so much warms my heart, like you have done so many other times.
You got your Ph.D., but along the way, you accomplished so much more, made yourself so much more, grew so much more, experienced so much more, made the experience count for so much more, and so you graduate with riches well beyond a Ph.D. You did all that Gabe; it was all you. I just think you’re incredible. I hope someday you have a child who makes you feel the way I do about you.
From CDC to Peace Dale, to Broad Rock and then the high school, to Connecticut College (and Copenhagen), Georgia Tech and finally Northwestern, Gabe you have been in school nonstop for more than 22 years, more than 80% of your life. The last day of school is upon you. I really wish I could give you a hug.