Department of Kinesiology

School of Health and Human Sciences

EdD in KIN Student Jennifer Lichty – Working Abroad While Getting Her Degree

jennifer lichty 2The EdD in Kinesiology program provides a unique opportunity for students to pursue professional opportunities while attending classes. Our student, Jennifer Lichty from the 2015 cohort, is taking full advantage of this. Jennifer is from Oro Valley, AZ but recently took a position in Shenzhen, China teaching Physical Education. We recently caught up with Jennifer to see how things are going and how the EdD in KIN program fits into her busy life.

Can you tell us a bit more about where you are, what you are doing, and how you make it all work?

“I got here on 20 August, 2015. I live in Shenzhen, China, on the other side of the bay from Hong Kong. The school I work for, BASIS International School Shenzhen, just opened September 1. It’s BASIS’s first international school, so I am its first physical education teacher. This is also my first time as a PE teacher after being a personal trainer with my own business, Jennifer Lichty Fitness, LLC, in Oro Valley and formerly a head swimming coach.
I work with almost exclusively with Native Chinese speakers in primary grades 1–6. I teach in English, providing students with both physical education and English immersion. I am exactly 12 hours ahead of UNCG, which makes studying in the EdD program very interesting. There are challenges to being in China while my cohorts and professors are in the states. However, the program is well designed and allows me to earn my doctorate on a timetable that fits me and my opposite schedule from the U.S. East Coast.
Group work is the most obvious challenge since when I am rising, others are going to bed, when I am working, others are sleeping, and vis versa. However, I think it will work out fine with some adaptations.
So far I’ve learned that some technologies fit better for me to communicate with than others. Email is best while instant messaging services like Hangouts may not always be reliable here or may not be ideal as my schedule varies from others and immediate communication is not always feasible or possible.
However, I love Google drive and docs! They’ve saved so much time in emailing documents back and forth. I completed my masters while living in Japan. Seven years ago when I did that, we would have to email group work to each other, and the time zone difference made it difficult to pass documents quickly around the group.
Being able to live anywhere and do anything while getting my EdD is amazing! I feel blessed to have the ability to choose my path and residence while still continuing my education online.”

Was it hard to make the decision to take the job? What thoughts went through your head before deciding this was the right move for you?

“My first thoughts were, is this possible—to do my doctorate in China with the regulation of internet access in that country? I had to do a lot of research . . . and learned that it should be feasible with some work on my end before leaving the states. I had experience before going to school online when I completed my masters online while living in Japan. That was almost the same situation time zone-wise—I think a 13 hour difference—and it was hard in group project situations.
However, I wanted to try something new. I had chosen the UNCG online doctorate for this purpose, to be able to seize the day, in whatever country . . . while also continuing to further my education. I won’t lie. It is hard getting a doctorate in China with potential internet-access issues and a 12-hour time difference. But I’ve faith that it will all work out, and I am now starting to get in a better groove and routine for it.”J Lichty China

What advice do you have for others who might want to consider earning their degree while living abroad?

 “As far as advice—research before you go, if your country will allow you access to the websites and services you need to complete your doctorate and how you would be able to access the web information you would need. Second, be prepared to know that it is hard working in groups when you are on a different time zone. Learn to be ok with that knowledge! Understand that some technologies are better than others for your situation. I’ve learned for me that Google drive and docs are wonderful—and I love them— and that email is the best communication method for me. Other than that, anything is possible!”

Great job at doing it all Jennifer. We look forward to hearing about your continued success!