Welcome to my newly updated website! After you read this post, please take a look around!

Three weeks ago (which already feels like a lifetime), I earned my doctorate in educational leadership from Johnson and Wales University 🙂 It has been a whirlwind celebration ever since, with so many congratulatory messages and well wishes from family, friends, and colleagues, both in-person and online. With the recent publication of my dissertation on the ProQuest database this week, I knew it was time to post this reflection.

Over the past few weeks, the two most common questions I’ve received are, “Do you feel different?” and “What’s next for you?” This post aims to share a brief reflection on both, in anticipation of the upcoming ACPA and NASPA conferences in March, where I will be in attendance presenting on a variety of topics 🙂

Do You Feel Different?
The answer is unequivocally YES. Doctoral coursework, the comprehensive exam, dissertation proposal, dissertation, and dissertation defense all contributed to a meaningful transformation from who I was when I started the program. I had heard this narrative from many others who earned their doctorates before me, and can confirm that it is absolutely true. The most noticeable changes are my increased writing skills and interest in educational research. As a student affairs administrator and educator for the past 19 years, it was refreshing to add this interest (and skill) to my work, which I hope fosters deeper, positive impacts on our staff and students. In addition, I have a deeper appreciation for organizational change and culture in education. Given that JWU’s program is Educational Leadership based, this comes at no surprise; however, it has stressed the importance of including elements of organizational change in my educational materials. As a leader, it is important to not only teach important skills to staff and students alike, but one must also include how to influence organizational culture for long-term, systemic change. As Peter Drucker stated:

Graphic of Peter Drucker, with the quote, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast."
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” – Peter Drucker

Overall, the biggest change in me has been an increased confidence in who I am as a higher education leader. I now fully own and embrace my place in the higher education and student affairs community; whereas before, I would often doubt myself and allow naysayers to negatively influence me to not own my leadership role. This shift has less to do with the new credentials (although having Dr. in front of your name is awesome!), and more to do with the fact that I successfully completed a doctoral program… given its difficulty, complexity, and the number of sacrifices made along the way. In fact, this process stressed the importance of having strong core support structures in your life. Without the full support of my family, friends, and colleagues, I would have never finished the program.

What’s next for you?
This question has often coincided with, “What are you going to do with all your new found free time?” 🙂 Certainly, with the demands of a doctoral program behind me, these were important questions to explore. Overall, I’ve grouped my thoughts into three areas:

  1. Family: It has been interesting re-entering the family dynamic. Truth be told, I was a “part-time” husband and father during my doctoral process. And while I rationalized that I did my best to spend “quality” time with my family, it simply didn’t live up to my own expectations. When I look back on this time on my life, I will still feel guilty for missing out on so much family time. However, I can now be more intentional and present overall, not trying to make up for lost time.
  2. Content Development: As you may have noticed, not only have I gone through an upgrade, but so has my website 🙂 Thanks the the fabulous Mel Judson, my site now reflects who I am professionally: a senior student affairs leader.  I’ve come a long way since 2009 when I first launched this site, primarily providing social media and technology education. Over the next few months, you’ll see that my content will be shifting a bit to reflect my expanded interest areas, including more posts on research and scholarship, ideas for senior leaders, and technology posts for advanced applications. I am excited to be regularly sharing content on my site again! In addition, Dr. Josie Ahlquist and I are editing a volume of New Directions for Student Services entitled “Engaging the Digital Generation” that is due out this fall and Dr. Paul Brown and I are writing an New Directions for Student Leadership chapter that will be out in 2017.
  3. Volunteer: I have had many professional association homes over the tenure of my career so far. These include NACA, ACUI, NASPA, and ACPA. I owe a great deal to these associations who gave me so many opportunities to grow my leadership skills, create space for important technology conversations, and help plan regional and national conferences. Now, I will be seeking new or expanded leadership opportunities wherever the opportunities may be.

As I move forward in my post-doctorate life, I will continue to seek opportunities to learn and lead. If you will be at ACPA in Montreal or NASPA in Indianapolis in March and wish to meet up, please let me know!

I am ready and look forward to the what’s ahead 🙂

What advice do you have for my post-doctorate life? How do you make the most of earning a terminal degree?

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