Two English and Communications instructors at Northern Maine Community College are the most recent to achieve educational excellence by earning their doctorate degrees.
Jennifer Graham was conferred her Ed.D., Doctorate in Education Leadership, through the University of New England last month and Janet “Jan” Grieco received a Doctor of Philosophy in Post-Secondary and Adult Education from Capella University in Minneapolis, Minnesota in August 2016.
Graham said the primary reason for pursuing her doctorate was that it was a “bucket-list” item for her.
“I’ve always enjoyed learning and being a student, but wanted to take some time off after completing my master’s degree,” Graham added. “After teaching for almost twenty years, I decided that it was time to return to school.”
The experiences Graham had as a teacher combined with some research projects she had done at NMCC steered her toward the Educational Leadership program.
“I chose to do my dissertation on an area of student retention that is currently under-represented in the literature, specifically, the perceptions of faculty members regarding student retention,” she said. “There is a large body of research telling faculty what they should do to support student retention, but very little asking faculty what they feel their role in student retention should be. One of the goals of my research was to allow faculty voices to be added to the literature on student retention.”
Grieco, whose work focused on Curriculum Development and Assessment, graduated summa cum laude, maintaining a perfect 4.0 grade average throughout her program, teaching full-time, with the exception of a sabbatical during which she traveled and wrote the dissertation.
Her dissertation, “The Perceptions and Experiences of Native American Women in Two-Year Tribal and Nontribal Community Colleges,” presents narratives from Native American women at two nontribal and two tribal community colleges in the Northeast and the Midwest, and required extensive travel and interviews from 14 participants.
“The study aligns with previous studies and shows that women face greater challenges in completing higher education and that those who are racially and ethnically diverse face even greater challenges,” said Grieco.
“The sacrifices and hard work that Jen and Jan put into their graduate work is an extension of their dedication in the classroom,” said David Raymond, Department Chair of Arts and Sciences. “We are fortunate to have faculty who are willing to invest years of their lives into advancing their education for the benefit of their students.”
Both Grieco and Graham took advantage of sabbatical opportunities provided by NMCC. President Tim Crowley noted that this benefits the faculty members who further their education as well as their students.
“NMCC supports professional development. This has included providing sabbatical leave for Jen and Jan,” said Crowley. “We have had 14 people complete their master’s degree or earn a doctorate while working at the College in the past 10 years. I am very proud of the effort we make to support the development of the faculty and staff that work here.”
“There are many ways my degree will continue to benefit NMCC students,” added Graham. “As someone who has been in the role of teacher for so long, it was humbling and refreshing to be a student again. I was quickly reminded of the challenges of being a student, and because I was working full time and juggling school, I could relate to students at NMCC who were doing the exact same thing. In addition, because I did my research in the area of student retention, I learned about ways I can design my courses and present material to students effectively and support them as they work to complete their degrees. I will be able to apply what I’ve learned to my day-to-day classroom activities and to the students whom I advise.”
For more information on programs offered at NMCC, please visit nmcc.edu.