First-generation college student Manuela Jiménez has always had plenty of ambition and little free time. After receiving her undergraduate degree from Rutgers University, the Perth Amboy, NJ (Middlesex County) teacher knew that she wanted to continue her education. She earned her master’s in Educational Leadership from Montclair State University while teaching secondary students, and attained her school principal and supervisor credentials. Jimenez believes that learning is a lifelong process, and in an effort to reflect on her practice as an educator, she decided to continue her studies.
A simple Google search led Manuela to discover the Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.) program at Rowan, and she dove right in. “I came across this top-rated hybrid doctoral program and was thrilled to hear about it!” she says. “Being a full-time working individual, it’s so convenient to be in a program that gives me the flexibility I need to have face-to-face classes and online classes that allow me to also work.”
Flexibility was a requirement when it came to Manuela’s decision to enroll in a doctorate program. She currently teaches English to seventh graders at a local school, and is the Chair for the elective department — two time-consuming positions that require a lot of work and dedication. She met with a Rowan University advisor in order to determine the perfect schedule that would integrate with her work preferences. The face-to-face class meetings are convenient to her schedule, and she prefers to complete the online portion of her learning during her breaks from teaching. “Having access to all of my learning materials and professor office hours online is very helpful to me because of my schedule,” she says.
Though this schedule may sound overwhelming, Manuela loves every moment of it. “It’s a very rigorous program, but it makes me want to learn more! The more that I read, the more inquisitive I become about my current methods as a practitioner. My professors provide thorough feedback for every assignment, and prepare me to feel more competent and confident in the workplace,” she says.
The most rewarding part of the program is that the content Manuela learns through her courses can be applied to her teaching the very same day! Since she completes her online work throughout the school day, the lessons she learns are fresh in her mind, allowing her to apply the theories from her readings to her classroom to see real results. And since she’s started the Ed.D. program, she is already noticing a difference in the quality of her interactions with students and faculty.
“It’s not all about the concept but the implementation of it in the teaching environment,” she says. “I am becoming a more reflective practitioner, learning the difference between theory and practice by applying the curriculum of these courses to my real-life interactions.”
“I’ve definitely made the right choice with Rowan,” Manuela says. “The program is hard but it’s worth it, because the quality of the education I’m receiving is truly impactful. It’s inspiring that first-generation college students like myself can make it in their career, and pursue a higher education degree while juggling everything else in life.”
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Nicole Cier, senior writing arts major