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Graduate Student Alumni Case Studies


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Interactive graduate student alumni case studies created as part of content marketing strategy to engage prospective applicants (play button links to alumni's podcast on SoundCloud).

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Graduate Student Alumni Case Studies

  1. 1. Former Paraprofessional Discovers Calling as Special EducationTeacher “Becoming a special education teacher has given me a way to provide young people with something no one can take away from them, education.” Hometown Education Job Title Employer Pompano Beach, FL M.Ed.‘13, Special Education (Behavior and Learning Disabilities), Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA B.A.‘05, Business Administration, Cumberland University, Lebanon,TN Special Education Teacher Fulton County Schools What is money if you’re not happy Becoming a teacher was a natural progression No one can take away your education During college I joined the Army and served six years as a personnel specialist. My main objective for going to college was to work in business, make money and travel. After graduating, I worked for a couple of corporate brands, but the idea of making lots of money wasn’t fulfilling enough to keep me in those positions. At that point, I began searching for my calling. I quit my job, moved back to Atlanta and worked several odd jobs. My dad suggested I become a substitute teacher since I had a bachelor’s degree, so I applied and was offered a position as a paraprofessional. I wasn’t sold on the idea so I volunteered at the elementary school and had so much fun - I accepted the job the next day and ended up winning paraprofessional of the year. Working as a paraprofessional for six years allowed me to see how the entire school operates and I realized you can’t marginalize any position. Since I’m a nerd, I felt like I could do more and wanted to validate my teaching by getting a master’s in education. Specifically special education because I didn’t like the way those students were looked at as being second rate. A teacher recommended Georgia State’s Net-Q teacher preparation program,which became part of my evolution to becoming a more organized and critically thinking individual. To see a child change over the course of an academic year has been my greatest reward. I love children and being a teacher has given me a way to provide young people something no one can take from them,education.Having children confide in you about their personal issues, to be real with you about what they don’t know and what they really can’t do - that takes a lot out of a person. So, for me to be that point guy, that’s very rewarding, very honorable and I don’t play with it. Marcus Copeland, M.Ed. ‘13 THE COLLEGE OF EDUCATION & HUMAN DEVELOPMENT GRADUATES ABOUT 900STUDENTS EACHYEAR OF THOSE, MORE THAN 400ARE TEACHERS ▶ Listen to Marcus’ Story
  2. 2. Designing Own Learning Goals and ForwardThinking Propels Career “I’m focused on creating my own learning goals,and the Social Foundations of Education master’s program helped me accomplish this by allowing me to study what was best for my career.” Hometown Education Job Title Employer Glen Falls, NY M.S.‘12, Social Foundations of Education, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA B.S.‘05, English Education; B.S., Creative Writing, University of Evansville, Evansville, IL Administrative Director, M.D. Curriculum Program Vanderbilt University, School of Medicine Attracted by multidisciplinary view of education Career advanced during master’s program My market value grew after graduating My career in higher education administration started at a private university in Indiana as a recruiter due to some previous experience teaching recruitment best practices to other universities. While the role was ideal for someone interested in a career in higher education, I wanted the challenge of something new in a big city, so I decided to attend graduate school in the hub ofAtlanta.I was interested in a broad-based master’s program that approached education in the U.S. from multiple views, and the Social Foundations of Education program was a perfect fit. It’s designed to be multidiscplinary and I liked the diversity of courses I could take in subjects like political science, sociology, history, philosophy, anthropology and cultural studies. My admissions experience allowed me to land a job with Georgia State University’s Office of the Registar. I applied to the master’s program after my six month probationary period ended and was accepted. Halfway through the program, the university’s College of Business sought me out and offered a promotional move. Four months into that position, I was promoted again to assistant director.I attribute my progression to being in a flexible program that allowed me to focus on my learning and career goals. After completing the program, I stayed with the College of Business a little over a year. By this time, I was confident I had enough market value to move to further my professional growth, so I relocated to Nashville with aspirations of working at Vanderbilt University. When a managerial opportunity opened up, I applied and interviewed, but was thrilled when they offered me a director position instead. My master’s degree and extensive background working in higher education led to this opportunity. Being a forward thinker and designing my own learning goals has propelled me into my current role - qualities I fostered in my graduate experience. Lindsey Moloney, M.S. ‘12 THE COLLEGE OF EDUCATION & HUMAN DEVELOPMENT GRADUATES ABOUT 900STUDENTS EACHYEAR OF THOSE, MORE THAN 400ARE TEACHERS ▶ Listen to Lindsey’s Story
  3. 3. Master’s Degree Leads to Doctoral Studies in Physical EducationTeacher Education “Aftercompletingmymaster’sdegree,Iwasexcitedabouttheideaofteachingfuture generations of PE teachers and doing research, so I enrolled in the Kinesiology Ph.D. program.” Hometown Education Job Title Employer Woodstock, GA M.Ed.‘12, Health and Physical Education, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA B.S.‘07, Health and Physical Education, University of Georgia, Athens, GA Kinesiology Doctoral Student Georgia State University, College of Education & Human Development Returned to school after six years of teaching Hybrid program allowed me to work full-time Teaching is my favorite part of the program I was very involved with sports throughout my youth and understood the value of staying active. After graduating from college, I immediately began working as a K-8 PE teacher and taught at the same school for six years. One year, I was team teaching with a colleague in the Health and Physical Education master’s program and became interested in pursing a graduate degree to advance my knowledge of best practices in sports and assessing student’s physical abilities. Most of my courses were online with one Saturday course, so I was able to continue working full-time while in the program.I loved the flexibility because I was able to complete the degree in 1.5 years.The experience in the master’s program opened my eyes to the possibility of becoming an expert in health and physical education, so I decided to enroll in the Ph.D. program in Kinesiology. I just completed my second year and I’m looking forward to starting my dissertation research on assessment practices at the elementary level. Ultimatley, I want to teach physical education teachers how to be better instructors so that future generations of students will have improved physical fitness and better health outcomes. One of the most rewarding aspects of the Kinesiology doctoral program is having the opportunity to teach undergraduate students because they are our future K-12 teachers. Justina Rodriguez, M.Ed. ‘12 THE COLLEGE OF EDUCATION & HUMAN DEVELOPMENT GRADUATES ABOUT 900STUDENTS EACHYEAR OF THOSE, MORE THAN 400ARE TEACHERS ▶ Listen to Justina’s Story
  4. 4. Culturally ResponsiveTeaching Fuels Urban Education ElementaryTeacher “As a white male teacher, the Culturally Responsive Pedagogy course taught me to respect, acknowledge and learn to appreciate the diversity of all students.” Hometown Education Job Title Employer Camp Hill, Pennsylvania M.Ed.‘07, Urban Accelerated Certifcate and Master’s (UACM), Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA B.A.,‘01 Christian Ministries, Messiah College, Grantham, PA Elementary Teacher, Kindergarten/Physical Education Atlanta Public Schools My life’s calling is to work with kids Teaching a full academic year was priceless Prepared to be a change agent and social activist Prior to moving to Atlanta with my wife, I worked with kids as a youth minister.While this was rewarding, I wanted a career working with young people in a different capacity. After settling into Atlanta’sWest End neighborhood, I initially volunteered in a fifth grade classroom for a year in my community.The following year, I became a paraprofessional/ teacher’s assistant at a charter school.This experience - coupled with a desire to make a difference in my neighborhood - encouraged me to become a certified teacher,and that’s what led me to the UACM program. With nine years of teaching experience, I’ve observed countless student teachers from universities that don’t require a year of teaching prior to graduating. As a student teacher in the UACM program, I taught a full academic year, which prepared me to be successful my first year in the classroom. Being observed and receiving consistent feedback from my mentor teachers and supervisors,developing and implementing lessons plans and working directly with students helped me reflect on my teaching and grow as an educator. Culturally responsive pedagogy - a student-centered approach to teaching that nurtures pupils’ culture to promote achievement and a sense of well-being about their cultural place in the world - are tenets of the graduate program. Faculty stress the importance of teachers being change agents in public schools, and we’re taught to take our interests and skills and figure out how they relate to the students. If I hadn’t learned this, I would not have thought about those things and surely would have stumbled as a novice teacher. Ryan Harry, M.Ed. ‘07 THE COLLEGE OF EDUCATION & HUMAN DEVELOPMENT GRADUATES ABOUT 900STUDENTS EACHYEAR OF THOSE, MORE THAN 400ARE TEACHERS ▶ Listen to Ryan’s Story
  5. 5. KnowingYour Students Individually is Critical to aTeacher’s Success “All too often, educators forget they have to be lifelong learners. If you ever get to the point where you think you have teaching down, you are not doing your job well.” Hometown Education Job Title Employer Atlanta, GA M.Ed.‘05, Urban Accelerated Certifcate and Master’s (UACM), Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA B.A.‘00, Communications-Journalism, Georgia State University Elementary Teacher, 3rd Grade Fulton County Schools Prefer working with kids than in an office Learning to juggle competing priorities Being open to multiple perspectives is critical Before becoming a teacher, I worked in public relations for 2.5 years for the City of Atlanta’s Housing Office and Ted Turner. Once I realized I didn’t like working in offices, I became a substitute teacher at the elementary school I attended.The kids loved me because I’m like the Pied Piper. I found myself coming in early, staying late and looking forward to working with the students and teachers. After subbing for several years, I decided to go back to school to earn a master’s so I could learn how to teach. You have to juggle multiple priorities as a teacher,and the UACM program taught me how to do this efficiently and effectively. As a graduate student and student teacher, I taught and worked with the school’s team during the day, attended evening classes with my cohort, and then went home to study, write papers or prepare lesson plans for the next day. It was very intense, however, I realized that if I could teach for a year without getting paid and enjoyed what I was doing, being a teacher was the right career for me. In addition to learning technical aspects, like classroom management and assessment, the UACM program helped me understand the importance of (a) being open to multiple perspectives and (b) recognizing students as individuals and seeing beyond their ethnicity or language. Over the last 10 years, I’ve taught hundreds of children from a variety of backgrounds who think differently than I do. Rather than ignore or pretend this doesn’t matter, I create a space in the classroom where students can advocate for themselves so they understand their voice is important and what they say can make a difference. Syrita Jackson, M.Ed. ‘05 THE COLLEGE OF EDUCATION & HUMAN DEVELOPMENT GRADUATES ABOUT 900STUDENTS EACHYEAR OF THOSE, MORE THAN 400ARE TEACHERS ▶ Listen to Syrita’s Story
  6. 6. The Art of Switching Careers: From Lawyer to Special EducationTeacher “If anyone is unhappy in their career, it’s not the end of the world if you take a leap.The rewards could be unbelievable, and may surpass most people’s expectations.” Hometown Education Job Title Employer Pittsburgh, PA M.Ed.‘15 Special Education (Behavior Learning and Disabilities), Teaching Certificate, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA J.D.‘01, Emory Law School,Atlanta, GA B.S.‘98, Political Science, Emory University Middle/High School Math Teacher, Special Education Hillside Conant Schools Didn’t feel like I was making a difference Interdisciplinary approach to teacher preparation Not a day goes by that I’m not humbled I moved to Atlanta two years before the Olympics were held in the city to attend Emory University. After receiving my bachelor’s degree, I continued at Emory’s law school. I wasn’t sure law was the right field for me, but after earning my J.D., I had a large amount of debt to pay off so I worked for several years at law firms, Equifax and a national medical lab. Eventually, I reached a place in my career where I felt like I wasn’t making a difference in the world, I walked in, quit and turned to teaching because it was always my calling.With no plan b, I enrolled in the teaching certificate program and worked part- time at Lululemon and Trader Joe’s. My rationale for choosing special education was because there weren’t enough teachers pursuing behavior, learning and disabilities. Since I’d never taught, I researched graduate programs that focused on the practical aspects of teaching,and the last two years have been phenomenal.The Special Education M.Ed. program has prepared me to view my students through multiple lenses by taking an interdisciplinary approach to teacher preparation.I’ve been taught by professors and attended classes with students in psychology, educational policy, school psychology and speech-language pathology. Working with this population of kids keeps me on my toes becasue I have to look at things from different angles to solve problems. Not a day goes by when I’m not humbled and learn to not take life so seriously. As special education teachers, we’re making change for kids that have had a lifetime of no support and are sometimes forgotten.To be that steady component they have everyday, in a life where their family or friends are not around, it’s pretty amazing. Stephen Fusco, M.Ed. ‘15 THE COLLEGE OF EDUCATION & HUMAN DEVELOPMENT GRADUATES ABOUT 900STUDENTS EACHYEAR OF THOSE, MORE THAN 400ARE TEACHERS ▶ Listen to Stephen’s Story