On Monday April 30, 2018, the 2014 EdD in KIN cohort arrived on campus for their third and final official campus visit. Being their third campus trip, their familiarity with one another and comfort navigating around campus was evident. Though nervous about defending their dissertations, the semesters of hard work that have lead up to this moment helped mitigate their apprehension. “It was obvious that the students were excited to share their findings and offer suggestions of how their work would make a difference to others. Family members, friends, current students and faculty attended the presentations, which were all recorded so they could be shared with those unable to attend,” remarks Pam Brown, Director of the Educational Doctorate in Kinesiology Program (EdD in KIN).
Over the course of three long days, every member of the 2014 cohort successfully defended their dissertation. Each defense focused on a specific problem in their field, with issues ranging from how to address inequalities of kids in Title I schools, to the methodology of teaching taekwondo to senior citizens. It was evident to all who came to see the defenses that the unique perspective provided by each students’ life experience served to amplify their energy to incite change. “[They] are all excellent presenters of their work, better than many PhDs. They know their work, its limits and contributions, and they care about their work and how they can continue to contribute and improve their own work, their profession, and the larger field of kinesiology,” notes Dr. Diane Gill.” The EdD Faculty could not have been more proud, I know that these students will use their dissertations to make a difference in their profession. Several have already started the process,” adds Dr. Brown.
After three longs days of dissertation defenses, the 2014 cohort was able to relax at their celebratory dinner held at The Public in downtown Greensboro. “It was great to see our first cohort at their defenses and graduation – and especially at our downtown celebration with everyone – including families and friends,” reflects Dr. Gill, “That was the highlight for me.”
For others, the highlight might have been walking in their cap and gowns attending the KIN commencement ceremony. There in a hot and crowded gym, the entire department of Kinesiology, now the fifth-largest department on campus, congregated with loved ones to celebrate May and August graduates. Eric Tucker, a soon-to-be graduate of the EdD in KIN program, was the keynote speaker. If he was nervous, it was undetectable. Perhaps because he found all the strength he needed in his peers sitting in the front row or maybe because addressing 500 people in a crowded gym is nothing compared to the grueling work of earning a terminal degree while holding down a full-time position and maintaining a personal life.
“All of us had to manage multiple responsibilities while completing this program – including full-time work, family commitment, and a number of unexpected life changes,” Tucker stated in his address. “But, we had a choice: we could let these challenges prevent us from moving toward our goals, or we could use personal strength and resiliency as a source of motivation. And therefore, we adapted to our new life; acknowledged our progress; and perhaps most importantly, realized that our individual success was inherently connected with our interdependencies and interrelationships upon one another. Diverse human experiences gave rise to diversity of thought, coupled with a deep sense of resiliency and dedication to overcome the challenge of doctoral studies. No matter where you began this race, despite the barriers you might have faced along the way, our collective determination and hard work are allowing us to reach the finish line together.”
The flexibility, perseverance, and sense of humor are things that this cohort will always be remembered for. As Dr. Brown notes, “It was so exciting to celebrate this moment with the 2014 cohort. I was so proud of their accomplishments and felt like they were my kids graduating. The EdD program is like a family and this group of students were willing to take a risk and help us build a successful online program.”
To read all of Eric’s speech please click here. And to the 2014 cohort, you are unstoppable. We look forward to seeing all that you will accomplish.