Honestly, I did not want to get my doctorate. It seemed like a lot of work, and I wasn’t sure how much it was needed. Why put a lot of time, money, and effort into something that I may or may not use? Yet, here I am, nine months into my doctorate program, and I’m absolutely loving it!

How did I get here?

For 16 years I worked as a music teacher. Recently, I made a career switch to higher education at Concordia University Wisconsin. Currently, I work as an admissions counselor for the Doctorate of Education in Leadership in Innovation and Continuous Improvement (LICI). As an admissions counselor, I must know the program so that I can inform potential students and work with the faculty. 

As I learned more and interacted with faculty, I discovered the exceptional nature of our doctoral program. Not only does the coursework vary, but the electives are interesting, and the cohort model is collaborative.

What stands out most is how the faculty speaks positively about the students. I can see that they genuinely value their students. They care about each student’s success and take the time to meet with students and help them through the program. 

The faculty’s support and compassion for students led me to apply for the program. I knew I wouldn’t be just a number, but a whole person with hopes and goals. One of these goals is to become a professor at a higher education college or university.

What have I learned?

So, here I am, nine months into the program and I’m learning a lot. Here are a couple things that I have learned so far.

Peer support

I am learning that I cannot do this doctoral journey alone. Creating connections during residency with my cohort gave me a support network. Additionally, we have a monthly Zoom meeting. We also use a group text to share info on books, assignments, or anything else. 

Back on the bike

Going back to school is like riding a bike. I was scared to start the doctorate because I hadn’t been a student for twelve years. I wasn’t sure I could get back into the routine of ‘doing school’. Yet, after buying my old school paper assignment notebook, I found my school habits coming back easily. 

Embracing my inner nerd

I am a self-proclaimed nerd and I love learning new things! The readings and classes themselves have been incredibly interesting.

I’m partial to the leadership classes and love learning about the kind of leaders that exist in the world. The experience allows me to reflect on the leaders in my life, both the good ones and the bad ones. It also helps me delve deeper into the type of leader I aspire to become.

I initially didn’t know the term HRD (Human Resource Development). However, over time, I was able to gain a better understanding and even write a ten-page paper on the subject. I am working hard and feel incredibly proud when I accomplish an assignment.

Managing time

I am learning how to manage my time. I work full-time, have a family, and also love to travel.  Adding on homework, reading, and projects seemed like too much. As a result, I’m trying to find time for homework, either by waking up early or staying late at work to finish assignments. 

Mind connections

I feel my brain forming more connections and starting to think differently. Which, I would not have made before starting the doctorate program. Furthermore, I hope to keep growing and keep those new synapses popping while acquiring new knowledge and ways of thinking.

In my first semester of the doctorate of education program, I gained a significant amount of knowledge. I intend to continue learning and enhancing my leadership and innovation abilities. Currently, this degree is helping me think differently and see things from a higher perspective in my current job. No matter how I use it in the future, it is beneficial to me right now.