Posts Tagged ‘Doctorate Education’

Working as a school psychologist in the northwest for the past eight years, I was ready for a change. In the Fall of 2012, I had a “heart to heart” conversation with my supervisor/mentor and spoke to her about my interest in continuing my educational journey. At the time, I was interested in becoming a director of special education, and wondered which schools offered such a program. In speaking with my mentor, she mentioned, “You can go the easy route and do an online administrator credential from a less reputable institution, or you can enroll in one of the better programs like Seattle Pacific University.” As we discussed my future, she went on to share that she had received her Ed.D. from SPU and spoke very highly of its professors and the positive learning environment. I was motivated to apply and by the Winter of 2013, I was enrolled in my first course! As with any new experience, I had some trepidation in returning to school, and not being affiliated with a particular denomination, was apprehensive about SPU being a faith-based institution. Nevertheless, I decided to have an open mind and submitted myself to the experience.Omar Flores_SPU

Taking courses for the program administrator credential at the Olympia campus was incredibly convenient and beneficial in my return to school. I found the instructors at SPU to be well rounded; with “real world experiences”, humble but firm, and immediately made me feel welcome in the classroom. My apprehensions about attending a faith based institution quickly diminished; and I found some advantages to SPU. One of the major advantages was the camaraderie and sense of community created by the instructors. Compared to past educational experiences, which were rigid and “cut throat” in nature, SPU presented as flexible and compassionate in their approach to learning.

In June of 2014 I received my program administrator credential from SPU. By that time, my vision as an educator and dreams for the future had evolved. So motivated was I from my experience at SPU, that I decided to apply for the Ph.D. in Education program. I was accepted and began my coursework that very summer.

As I write this piece, I am now into my third quarter in the Ph.D. program. For the first time in my life, I feel I am where I truly belong. Compassionate professionals and a community of educators with a higher sense of purpose surround me. My professors, for whom I have a tremendous amount of respect, support and challenge me. I am encouraged by the possibilities the future holds for me in education. My interest continues to be in the field of special education, and my hopes are to become a professor specializing in school psychology one day. In the immediate, my role is to provide educational leadership in my schools, and to be an encouraging example to educators who desire to make positive change in their community. I am keenly aware of the influence I have on underrepresented youth disenfranchised from their schools that may need a role model/mentor to push them along their educational journey. I strive make a positive impact on a daily basis.

Taking the next step has been the most rewarding experience in my educational journey. I am grateful for making the decision to go to SPU to advance my career in education. As with any journey, the first step should be planned toward success!


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165705_1717079402550_1577412_nBy Daihong Chen

Milan Kundera, one of my favorite writers, claimed that life is about choices. Every choice leads to a different adventure and experience. I believe that pursuing a PhD degree is a crisis choice in life since it means a huge investment of time and effort. Meanwhile, the decision of which program to enter is a critical choice too. People around you as well as resources and opportunities you can have are essential to enhancing your knowledge, harnessing your research ability, and impacting the development of life values and personality. It sounds like a dramatic change for me to make the choice of transferring from the University of Georgia (UGA), a 33,000 student public university in a small college town to Seattle Pacific University (SPU), a less than 4,000 students private university in a comparatively big modern city. I am blessed and overjoyed that this choice has been leading me to a fascinating path of being a doctorate student.

I still clearly remember the most struggle-filled midsummer I have ever had. Every day I prayed for the clues and guidance from God, consulting pastors and experienced senior scholars, talking with family and friends, so as to figure out an answer to whether I should move to Seattle or stay at Athens. Most of my Chinese friends suggested that I stay at UGA without any hesitation because they even didn’t hear about SPU and obviously the program of the Learning, Design, and Technology at UGA enjoys a strong reputation. I wrote many emails to Dr. Lumpe asking many questions about the transfer and he was always very patient in answering any question.

Time flies! Now I have started my second quarter in the PhD of Education program at SPU. The journey of exploring and adventuring at SPU in the past half a year has provided me sufficient insights and experience to give answers to my questions and concerns before I came here.

My experience in the past six months tells that ranking doesn’t matter as much as you think. Being educated from kindergarten to graduate school in China, I cannot be clearer about the importance of the ranking of schools which is closely associated with the quality of education and the future career development opportunity in China. I have to say it was the biggest struggling I had. UGA is well known in China and the program I was in has been top ranked in the field of educational technology.

I talked about this concern with two Chinese professors working in UGA; however, they told me that, ranking doesn’t mean so much in USA because big public schools definitely have more resources and advantages regarding these standards for evaluation, but these standards for assessing a school usually are not too much associated with your personal learning experience and growth. What really matter is how much personal care, direction, assistance, support and resources you can have from professors and the school.

Now I can say that, the direction, care, help and support I gained from SPU is not less than I had in UGA, and is even more customized and personalized as it is a small group in which students can obtain more attention and assistance. For example, I was impressed that after the international student orientation, every international student has an individual meeting with the coordinator for personal issues or requirements. Because the program is small, everyone knows everyone very well and the acquaintance makes me feel comfortable and encouraged everyday. I have never met the dean of the College of Education at UGA in person, but at SPU, you can talk with the dean, faculty and staff frequently and they are always very happy to help. In this small school, actually, you can reach more resources and have more assistance.

The other main concern I had for the transfer was if there were opportunities to be involved in research and academic practice in the doctorate program at SPU. As we know, research is a critical part through the journey of the doctorate education. Now, I would say that the doctorate program in the School of Education at SPU provides many opportunities involving me into real research project and practice, conference presentation, and journal or book chapter publication. I have started to work in the bPortfolio project since I registered in the school. Benefiting from this ongoing project so far, I was listed as the fourth author of a presentation in at the 18th Annual Sloan Consortium International Conference on Online Learning in Orlando, Florida in October, 2012. Additionally, a full paper coauthored by Dr. Lumpe and I has been submitted for the AACE conference presentation in the coming June. The effort of coding data and writing a paper for this project is a rather valuable experience in terms of improving research skills and academic writing. Additionally, I am blessed to get involved in writing a book chapter in terms of “teacher reflection” with Dr. Lumpe and Dr. Bishop. I believe my knowledge has been broadened and enriched greatly in terms of teacher education, educational technology and research methodology in the past half a year.

Above all, I do enjoy my new journey in the school of education as a doctorate student. I like the fact that SPU places a huge emphasis on students’ development and individual needs and builds a harmonious and collaborative community.

In closing, I would like to use what my friend in my previous program at UGA told me about my choice. When I told her what I am studying and learning, she said that, I think you made a right decision for the transfer to SPU.

About Daihong Chen:

I am a current doctorate student in the PhD of Education program at Seattle Pacific University. I am originally from China. I graduated from Beijing Normal University with the Bachelor degree in Education and Master degree in Education majoring in Curriculum and Instruction. Before I came to USA, I was a high school teacher teaching Moral and Political Education for three years and then worked for the China National Curriculum Resources Center for two years. I finished my first year of PhD education in the program of Learning, Design, and Technology at the University of Georgia in which I was a graduate assistant working for the coordinators of Master programs of Learning Design and Development and School Library and Media. I also co-instructed the course of Introduction of Instructional Design with Dr. Clinton in the summer semester of 2012 at UGA. I transferred to Seattle Pacific University in August, 2012. My research interest is technology integration and teacher education.

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