Personal Reflection and Purpose
As an avid writer, I tend to write about my experiences at great length. This personal reflection encompasses several areas of my past and current life. The elements of discussion include pre-residency and post-residency reflections. Discussion delves into early influences for engagement in a doctoral program, level of preparedness, anticipated outcomes of the program, how I expect to grow within the scholar-practitioner-leader model and how this growth is tied to my personal interests, and concrete goals that launch me into the future.
The Early Influences. During the 1980’s, the idea of pursuing a doctoral degree entered my teenage brain. High school was still a reality, the pursuit of something special began in a neighborhood bookstore. College entrance exams loomed, yet I found myself looking at graduate school reference guides. My father, a graduate of University of Michigan, provided an example of the necessary drive and determination to achieve greater things. The doctoral vision in my mind was that of a brown suit coat with elbow patches, a satchel, plaid scarf, worn blue jeans, and tattered brown shoes. The outfit was complete with an Indiana Jones styled hat; the vision complete. Material items and a doctoral education do not meld well. Something was missing. My abilities as a student were acceptable, but it was not until the 1990’s where my motivation and academic prowess began. The responsibilities of being a father provided the drive and push deserving of a doctoral learner.
My early years included many influences. Ernie Harwell, the Detroit Tigers radio announcer, provided audio accounts of summer-time baseball; the boys of summer. The summer evenings by the campfire fueled long academic conversations with my father, as Ernie Harwell’s voice echoed in the background. He would teach and share stories of his academic experiences and how such achievements open doors to the future. I would listen and express my desire to one day be addressed as, Dr. Klein. My father’s response, “Will this degree make you happy? Other than being called, Dr. Klein, what drives you to want to achieve this amazing journey of scholarship?” At the time, I didn’t know.
Shortly thereafter, I went to college and experienced a freshman writing professor that introduced me to the book, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. As Ernie Harwell provided the audio dreamscape of my thoughts, the book provided a written storyboard of my dreams and aspirations. The book was rather dark and macabre, but the elements that stayed with me involved the stories of Lennie and George. They spoke of their dream to buy a piece of land. I share this dream. The passion in their voices of something greater moved me. These real world examples directed me to want something more, something greater for myself and my family.
Preparedness and Current Position. In 2001, I entered the field of education with a firestorm of passion and wanting something greater. My involvement in primary and intermediate education was a mere stepping stone for my ultimate goal of higher education. Paying my dues, learning everything about the inner workings of education provided a backdrop to my future in higher education. Currently, I work as an academic counselor at a major private university. The PhD program in Higher Education Administration directly impacts my position within the university.
Doors open on a weekly basis because of my academic studies. Topics such as student retention, hiring of staff, and program changes have been introduced and refined as a student within the program. Knowledge is power, thus my academic career in K-12 and higher education brings a wealth of real world experience. The challenges within the program include conflicts between current workplace experiences and the research conducted. For example, on a weekly basis, decisions made within my department conflict with what I would do as a higher education administrator. Instead of thinking of it as a negative, I embrace the challenges. Observing the wrong way of doing things is just as valuable as the right way.
Anticipated Outcomes. Aspirations within the program include refinement in the areas of writing, research, and administration decision-making. Examples of scholarship, practice, and leadership appears daily during the workday. The program helps to open doors to potential teaching and leadership positions within the university. The position of Dean within the College of Education is a future goal. According to University of Phoenix (2010), "Our mission is to develop leaders who will create new models that explain, predict, and improve organizational performance. These leaders are scholar-practitioners who conduct research as a foundation for creative action, influence policy decisions, and lead diverse organizations through effective decision-making” (School of Advanced Studies Mission, para. 1-2). My goals not only include future academic positions, but conducting research with University of Phoenix. Expanding the active research function with University of Phoenix would allow an increase in the viability of the university.
Reflections prior to residency and after residency tend to be quite different. Altering goals and objectives is necessary in my scholarly improvement. The week of residency taught me several items related to growth within the SPL model and my improved scholarly growth as it relates to my personal interests.
Growth within the SPL Model. Prior to residency my feelings of angst and uncertainty caused a dip in self-confidence. The scholarship within my soul knew that I could benefit from other students within different disciplines. The heath care professionals within my class provided energy and motivation that was not evident in higher education, at least in my immediate circle. Adding different elements of reflection, scholarship, and motivation allowed me to grow and expand within that role. Differing points of view and lens allows me to understand grasp the needs of several university interests. The future is bright and unpredictable. As a higher education administrator, my job duties could lead me to roles not related directly to education. Instead, my role could be with business or communications. Staying flexible is one very important goal.
As an educator and higher education professional my growth as a practitioner grew exponentially over the last five days. Entering the first day of residency, I knew my skills as a working professional were sufficient and acceptable to place myself at the front of the profession. As I interacted with colleagues of higher education and health care, doubts crept into my self-conscious. Was I good enough to continue within the program? In the evening, that question haunted my thoughts as I returned to my hotel room. As my self-confidence grew, the doubts were replaced with thoughts of hope, excitement, self-awareness, and vision; a vision of leadership.
Currently, as a counselor within higher education, my day is spent speaking with future K-12 leaders. Most students are certified teachers, but they want to take that next step in becoming principals of their respective schools. As a PhD student within higher education, my goals are similar. In the near future, enhancing my leadership abilities and positively influencing colleagues will open doors to opportunity. Recently, influencing the greater good of the people around me has entered my thoughts. Previously, my thoughts centered on self-motivating factors. A true leader does not solve problems for people, but engage people to solve problems (Drew et al., 2008, p. 10). The shift in thinking provides optimism and anticipation to a variable future.
Scholarly Growth and Personal Interests. Intentions are just that, intentions; taking the first step to fulfilling those intentions opens up possibilities within your world. My scholarly journey has enhanced my current position within my university. Living by the philosophy that knowledge not shared is knowledge lost provides a platform for reform and change within higher education. My new lens of vision facilitates clearer thinking and greater options within my livable influence. Researching student services through the lens of academic affairs enhances change for all students, faculty, and administration. While living the SPL model, researching online doctoral graduate’s job placement will increase the viability of non-traditional education.
Theory suggests that education has made a monumental shift from predominantly traditional education to predominantly non-traditional education. This shift brings with it tremendous opportunity and responsibility. Improving the image of my university, the viability of the programs and collectively unifying alumni will help to change the perceived public opinion. Showing that advanced degrees from University of Phoenix do enhance society and workplace position will be one small step in increasing public opinion.
Concrete Goals. As an educator and higher education professional, this week’s residency helped me to formulate and concretely identify five goals. First, embrace my position as a counselor within the Masters of Education in Administration of Supervision program by leading the new program into the future. Second, facilitate a viable working relationship with Academic Affairs by providing support to students that is noticeable. Third, continue to lead by example, but become more vocal in my everyday working environment. The goal is to not do more, but to work smarter and increase my leadership role within the department. Fourth, continue to build relationships with other educational leaders inside and outside my university. This will increase my chances of progressing vertically within the university. Fifth, be proactive with my dissertation. In that, I will change the world after my dissertation.
Reflection is an essential elementary of growth as a scholar. This personal reflection encompasses several areas of my past and current life. The elements of discussion included pre-residency and post-residency reflections. Discussion included early influences for engagement in a doctoral program, level of preparedness and current higher education position, anticipated outcomes of the program, life beyond the PhD in Higher Education Administration program, how I grew within the scholar-practitioner-leader model, and how this growth was tied to my personal interests.
Arizona Educational Research Organization. (2010). AERO. Retrieved from http://www.azedresearch.org/about_us.php
Drew, G. (2008). An artful learning framework for organizations. Journal of Management and Organization, 14, 504-520.
University of Phoenix. (2010). School of Advanced Studies. Retrieved from http://www.phoenix.edu/colleges_divisions/doctoral/about.html