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Alex JohnLast year I decided to take the leap. I am currently a high school counselor and I was looking for the next thing in my career. At the Washington Education Association (WEA) state conference in 2012 I happened to pass a booth that SPU was at and noticed that there was a PhD program in counselor education. The light bulb went on in my head – I could get a degree in counselor education and work with the next generation of professional school counselors?! Sign me up! After dragging my feet (and brain) to the GRE testing center – I survived yeah!! – I began my journey of becoming a college educator.

The courses that I have taken at SPU have me reflecting on my practice as a counselor, educator and learner. I look forward to continually stretching myself and discovering new topics of interest. Most recently I have been fascinated with Self-Efficacy and Social Emotional Learning (SEL). Studying these topics allows me to think about how I can apply them to my school program.

I look forward to working with future and current counselors throughout my PhD program and beyond. Sharing my experiences and learning from new student’s insights will bring another element to my practice and allow me to always be learning!

Alex currently serves as a School Counselor at Kamiak High School in Mukilteo, WA. 

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With good reason only a small percentage of people pursue and complete a doctoral degree. Earning a doctoral degree demonstrates attainment of the highest levels of knowledge and thinking available in formal education. The work is rigorous, challenging, and time consuming.

It’s best to chunk challenging tasks into doable parts. You can think of doctoral studies are a series of hoops to jump through… taking admissions tests, getting admitted, taking coursework, passing comprehensive exams, conducting dissertation research. But the pursuit of a doctoral degree is much more than jumping through hoops and completing products. While those earning a doctoral degree reap tangible benefits such as increased earning potential and professional opportunities, the processes involved can also be exceptionally rewarding in many other intangible ways.

The cognitive challenges presented during a rigorous doctoral program can drive students (along with faculty) to develop and grow. Synthesis, critical analysis of historical and current ideas, debate, application of ideas to professional contexts, and pursuit of new information are hallmarks of this level of learning. For many, these sorts of cognitive challenges are highly motivating. A love of learning and doctoral studies often goes hand in hand.

The professional and personal relationships built during doctoral studies will last a lifetime. Students and faculty spend time in the “trenches” together and the collaboration, support, and development of ideas cement relationships that pay multiple dividends. Many who earned degrees years ago remain in contact with professors and fellow students. The semi-cohort model employed in SPU’s doctoral programs, along with close interactions built with faculty members during mentoring and dissertation processes, ensures rewarding relationships for years to come.

Doctoral studies should be viewed holistically and the multiple rewards of the journey, along with the more tangible benefits, are to be cherished.

Andrew Lumpe, Ph.D., Associate Dean of Graduate Programs, Director of Doctoral Programs

Photo Credits-Creative Commons: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nicmcphee/, http://www.flickr.com/photos/fncll/

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