Four years ago I earned my doctorate from California State University, Fresno as part of the Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership at Fresno State.
Here is a picture of my colleagues from four years ago in May 2010.
This past weekend (May 2014), the fifth cohort of doctoral students graduated from Fresno State and it was an honor to be there to celebrate with the fourth cohort from the Fresno area and the first cohort from the Bakersfield area – a total of 37 new educational doctorates. Here is a picture of some of the 2014 graduates. You can see more of their pictures here.
Each individual doctorate represents three years of learning, networking, research as well as hours and hours of research, study and reading to complete a dissertation. Each of those dissertations contributes to the overall information and knowledge in a variety of areas. But, more importantly, the individuals who completed the dissertation now have the knowledge about a specific topic that they will share with their local community. This means that educational communities from the Tejon Pass on the Grapevine in Southern California to Merced County in Central California all benefit from the new Doctors of Educational Leadership – more than 200 miles of places are now enriched.
Watching others earn their doctorate caused me to reflect on why pursuing a doctorate was important to me eight years ago. To start with, I am one of those people who is really a lifelong learner. I love learning new things and diving deeply into a topic to better understand it. Overall these are the top four reasons I would encourage anyone to pursue their doctorate:
- 1. Relationships
- 2. Networking
- 3. Learning
- 4. New Opportunities
The relationships I gained with colleagues, professors and the university are immeasurable. In a variety of ways, I continue to interact with my colleagues in both professional and personal ways that enrich my life daily.
Networking with both my colleagues, the research and with those whose research I interacted with has caused me to think in new ways and continue to seek better ways to impact learning and education. These interactions that continue today have increased my confidence in my beliefs, in my research, and in myself.
The learning continues on a daily basis. But how I learn changed because of my experiences in the doctoral program. I now look at studies, reports and articles with a new lens that better informs the right direction. I also learned the difference between surveys, reports and real research. And I learned how to ask the right questions.
On a daily basis, I now recognize the new opportunities that are afforded to me because of my doctorate. As one speaker reminded all of us, just 3 % of the U.S. population has earned a doctorate. Knowing which opportunities best fit my passions as a learner, as a researcher and as an educator all occurred because of the experience in the doctoral program.
Take the opportunity to pursue a doctorate for yourself and to improve the educational opportunities for the people in your local community.