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Open Letter of Thanks to the Truck Driver Who Paid for My Ph.D. in Gender Studies

Dear Truck Driver,

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis called my attention to the fact that “the truck driver paid back a loan for someone who got a Ph.D. in gender studies,” and so it is with appreciation and in recognition of your sacrifice that I write to acknowledge the tax payment you contributed toward forgiving $10,000 of my student loan debt, acquired as I earned my doctorate in gender studies.

I don’t think Governor DeSantis realizes how much we have in common. For when I studied the 2019 Bill before Congress (H.R. 5145)—the Promoting Women in Trucking Workforce Act—I felt a sense of kinship between us.  Without those in my field of gender studies, the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure might not have thought of solving the truck driver shortage by finding ways to bring more women into the trucking workforce.

When your daughter gains access to professional opportunities, like a career in trucking, or law or science or engineering, I get warm fuzzy feelings knowing that we both played some part in her expanding opportunities, and that you played a part in me playing a part. 

When I draft a policy on harm to children who are sex trafficked, I will think of you then, too, and hope that my own work has made you a bit more aware of the traffickers using truck stops for human trafficking. Here again I feel that my work in gender studies has a lot in common with the efforts of your groups like Truckers Against Trafficking.

I realize that people with doctorates tend to earn substantially more money than those without college degrees, and so in my lifetime I might contribute hundreds of thousands more in taxes than you’ll pay into the system. And so it is with humility and gratitude that I will help pay, with my taxes, for your children’s education, for the government programs that I am far less likely than others to need, for the PhDs in transportation and engineering, and for the roads you drive on to make your living. It is the least I can do to pay it forward. 

Keep on truckin’,

On behalf of the 50 total people in the U.S. who earned a Ph.D. in Gender Studies in 2020

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