Today I sat in on a friend and colleague’s dissertation defense. He did a great job and is now Dr! However, of all his responses today, the one that stood out to me was less about his research and more about his evolution as a student affairs professional.
When he was asked how the process of pursuing the PhD changed him, he indicated that he set out to do the degree because he wanted to move up in the field, eventually becoming a VP. However, while that might still be a professional goal, he explained that the pursuit of the EdD has helped him be more in the moment with his current work as a director. Even more importantly, he described how the doctoral pursuit helped him rethink approaches to work, making him more focused on doing his work BETTER. He explained that better meant more data driven and using the framework of research to approach how he conducts his practice.
He will now listen to conversations differently – as a researcher. The pursuit of the dissertation is about the research but it’s also about how you become better at what it is you plan to do. You do the dissertation to inform your current and future approaches to research, teaching, or general professional practice. It’s nice to hear how this process changed him and how it will inform who he is now and who he becomes. It was nice to see how what began as a means to an end became a lesson in how to approach the present.
How do you frame your work?
How has the pursuit of additional knowledge through pursuit of advanced degrees or participation in professional development activities influenced your approach to work in student affairs?