What made you choose Marymount University for the pursuit of your Doctorate?
I chose the Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and Organizational Innovation program at Marymount because of the emphasis on innovation. I am interested in thinking about how we can do things differently in education and Marymount offers a good mix between leadership and innovation.
What do you hope to accomplish by earning an Ed.D. degree?
I hope to work towards increasing the inclusion of students with disabilities in faith-based schools. This may be as a classroom teacher, a school leader or at the policy level through the school district. Working towards my degree has shown me many ways to achieve my professional goal as I continue to learn more.
Tell us a bit about your background up to this point – personal and/or professional.
I spent over two decades working in education overseas. That gave me first-hand experience in the many different ways education can be approached. I have been a classroom teacher in just about every grade level, a school leader and I have worked for USAID in education in Afghanistan. Currently, I teach elementary school at a Catholic school in the United States, a job I absolutely love.
What motivates you to complete an online program?
Honestly, I was reluctant to consider an online program because I worried about making personal connections with my classmates and professors. However, once the school where I teach went to online learning during the pandemic, I developed a much better understanding of all that online learning can be and I was able to put aside those concerns. I have made deep connections with classmates and I feel supported by professors in this program. It’s a good mix of collaboration and individual work and the online platform is definitely user-friendly.
What do you think of the Ed.D. program so far? Do you have a favorite topic or moment?
I enjoy the readings and assignments, but I also value the individual scholarship each of us undertakes. Each of my classmates is working on a different dissertation topic and we are able to support each other by bringing personal knowledge to the group.
I loved the thought-provoking class on ethics. It was one of the first classes in the program and it allowed the class to get to know each other and develop our own thinking by sharing ideas. The second-term research class was challenging, but I started to think of myself as a researcher and proper doctoral student. There was a lot of support from the professor and I grew tremendously.
What is the biggest highlight of your experience with the MU Ed.D. program?
The biggest highlight of the program for me has been the diversity of people, their experiences and their research areas — this includes the professors. Each of us brings something different to classes and assignments and that leads to thinking in new ways. I also value the support of classmates and professors because it creates an environment that encourages innovative thinking and risk-taking.
Anything else that you’d like to share?
The online experience has been engaging. It allows me to plan when I do school work and that flexibility has been important to me. I had a difficult time with the APA (American Psychological Association) writing and citation style at the beginning! I would not say I’m an expert now, but it got much easier as I got used to it. The feedback from professors and classmates really helped me develop those skills.