Two weeks ago, I spoke to a leader in education who decided to hold off on pursuing a doctoral degree. Today, Dr. Jordan Rodriguez discusses his recent achievement earning a Doctorate in Educational Leadership. Dr. Rodriguez is Assistant Principal at a suburban high school in Central Florida with over fifteen years experience leading education and athletics.
1. What motivated you to pursue a doctorate? I was motivated to earn my doctorate on multiple levels. I have a constant thirst to acquire new knowledge and share that knowledge. Earning the doctorate degree would also open the door to potentially teach at the collegiate level some day. Moreover, by earning the doctorate degree I became the first person in my family to do so.
2. How does a doctorate fit in to your career in K-12 public education? Although by no means a requirement for my occupation as an assistant principal, the program allowed me to collaborate with individuals from neighboring school districts. The relationships I developed with the members of my cohort have served the district and me well by sharing knowledge, experiences, and resources. Another key benefit of the doctorate was the extensive training I received in being able to intelligently assess educational research. As a school leader, I look to bring expertise to my campus in an effort to ensure our students and instructors are given the best opportunity in which to succeed through the use of highly effective practices.
3. Did you do your work online, blended, or on campus? What were the advantages and disadvantages of your decision here? My doctoral program was a traditional face-to-face model. My classes took place on the UCF campus. I would highly recommend this approach when advising someone who was interested in pursuing a doctorate degree. The relationships you develop with your professors and classmates just do not develop in the same way when working in an online degree. I see the merit in an online program if you are looking for efficiency, but I think the scale tips significantly to the advantage of the traditional program if you are interested in lasting relationships that could help you down the road.
4. How are you using your work and research in your career? I utilize my ability to discern what is credible research and what is not on a daily basis. Moreover, through my research, I was exposed to a variety of reputable researchers who I have continued to follow. I often share the work of these experts in the field of educational research with the instructors I supervise, as well as my administrative colleagues.
5. What 3 tips would you give to students considering or in the midst of doctoral work? Stay positive. Stay calm. Find a balance between your academic life, personal life, and professional life.
6. What was the most challenging portion of your work? Writing a dissertation is no joke. You have to go in to the process understanding that you are going to sacrifice nights, weekends, and family events for a little while. There is still time for fun and relaxation, but you have to make a deliberate effort to find balance.
7. What was the most rewarding portion of your work? When you complete the degree, you realize that you are part of a very exclusive club. A very small percentage of the U.S. population holds a doctoral degree. When you see the pride on the faces of your family and friends, it will bring a smile to your face.