While most teachers prefer simply teaching, others enjoy sitting in the classroom themselves to advance their educations in graduate school.
Mrs. Ashley Hendricks
AP Literature & Composition teacher by day and grad student by night, Mrs. Ashley Hendricks has taken courses at several universities in pursuit of her PhD.
“I’ve always been interested in film, and when I went to the University of Florida, they had whole degrees dedicated to it, so I began writing about film,” Mrs. Hendricks said.
Though once set on film, Mrs. Hendricks decided to change her focus. “I did my PhD coursework in Film and was in the dissertation phase, but I am now switching my PhD to Curriculum and Instruction,” she said. “I was at Georgia State University and Emory at first — they have a joint program up there. I took some interesting classes there, and now I’m at FAU with Curriculum.”
Despite being a mother of two and full-time teacher, Mrs. Hendricks has managed to fit her own further education into her schedule. “I don’t sleep a lot, and I’m able to do a lot of writing after my kids fall asleep — plus, that’s when I find I work best. Also, I’m a morning person, so I usually wake up around 4 a.m,” Mrs. Hendricks said. “It’s really inspiring to be around such brilliant students all day long. That kind of enthusiasm for academia is really contagious. Being a teacher has really pushed and nurtured me to become more of a scholar.”
As for what she wants to use her degree for, Mrs. Hendricks has big things in mind, coupled with her experience as a professor, instructor of record and adjunct professor. “I think my next move will be in education policy,” she said. “As a criticalist, I don’t want to be in an echo chamber and want to help in change on the ground, which is something continuously learning helps me to do.”
Dr. Jonathan Pedrone
With seven AP U.S. Government classes filling his day, Dr. Jonathan Pedrone waited until two summers ago to pursue a PhD in Education at Liberty University. When asked why, he jokingly said, “I wanted more student debt.”
However, he had a more legitimate reason in mind. “When I started my undergrad, it was my goal to go all the way and get an advanced degree. I teach history, religion and some education courses at Broward College and Davis College, so I can teach more classes with this degree,” he said. “Plus, since teaching is my career, I wanted to study it more.”
Completing a PhD in one summer required intensive courses shoved into short intervals. When moving onto his dissertation, Dr. Pedrone chose to write about how students taking classes in foreign languages affects their learning.
Dr. Gabriela Zaviezo
Completing undergrad at Brown University in 2004 and acquiring her masters at Columbia in 2006, one would think Dr. Gabriela Zaviezo would have stopped her education there. However, she decided to go back to school for her PhD, graduating from the University of Miami in 2015 with a PhD in philology, the study of linguistics and literature.
Dr. Zaviezo spoke Spanish from growing up in Puerto Rico, became well-versed in French after a summer in Paris and studied Italian in college for two years. Since she was already fluent in three of the four Romance languages, she decided to focus on Portuguese for her PhD.
“I got my PhD because I wanted to be a college professor and that’s a requirement for the job, but I’m not sure if that’s something I still want,” she said. “Becoming a college professor requires moving to a different state, and that’s not where I am right now. I still do research, I still write and I still publish, but that’s just not what I’m focused on at the moment.”
Her path to her PhD took a longer than most, taking two non-consecutive years off while getting her PhD due to her two pregnancies. “For my comp exam, I’d just had a baby and during my dissertation I had a two-year-old,” Dr. Zaviezo said. She centered her dissertation on three post-revolution Cuban novels and focused on how masculinity was changed in the Castro regime.