How my mentor saved me from "ABD"
After nearly 6 years or course work, papers, research, and writing I've achieved a goal I set for myself in 2012. The decision to major in higher education leadership was the easiest part to going back to college in my forties. My dissertation chair told me this is a marathon, not a race. Wise words. By the time I met Dr. David Thomas, I was frustrated by a system that wasn't working - at least not for me. My experiences in a progressive, mentor based, asynchronous university was rigorous, duly stressful, and an investment - both of substantial time and money.
In a letter to the Dean of the School of Education, it drives home the impact a caring mentor can have on their student's success.
"Since 2001, I’ve held leadership roles in higher education including Associate Dean, School Director, Dean, and Assistant National Dean. Earning a doctorate degree in education will enhance my career path and fulfill a lifelong dream.
During the coursework phase, I found the curriculum appropriately rigorous with thoughtful with industry centric mentorship from nearly all of the professors. After successful completion of the comprehensive exam, I was assigned a dissertation chair from outside the SoE. My experience with the assigned dissertation chair was concerning in many ways - communication, feedback, mentorship, and responsiveness to my concerns. After two, 12-week sessions my advisor was contacted regarding my concerns. Quite honestly, at that point I decided NCU was not where I should earn my degree. My advisor asked me to complete a request to change chairs and I complied. I was assigned Dr. David Thomas who quickly reached out and scheduled a call.
Dr. David Thomas was empathetic, reviewed my work to date, provided a roadmap, and convinced me the doctoral experience under his guidance would be different. He kept his word! Dr. Thomas took ownership and made his expectations clear, read my work, was available, and provided direct and useful feedback. Dr. Thomas was always encouraging and celebrated my accomplishments along the way. NCU has a superstar in Dr. Thomas. From a student perspective, he flipped my attitude and mentored me to success. From a higher education leader perspective, Dr. Thomas is a wonderful model for the professor-as-a-mentor model. Please know, in my instance he certainly improved NCU’s student retention and completion rate.
This past Thursday I successfully defended my dissertation. Thank you for bringing Dr. Thomas into my professional and scholastic life."
This past week, I was conferred the Doctorate in Leadership in Higher Education. I'm excited for what the future holds in Higher Education Leadership for me, and what I can contribute. Hopefully I become the mentor I was blessed to have known.