John A. Walsh, Ph.D. 2009

The Joint Ph.D. in Education Program at the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College was the perfect graduate program for me. I, like many classroom teachers, was confronted by big questions concerning the relationship between schooling, society, politics, and economics. My struggle to adequately answer difficult questions led me to applying to the Ph.D. program. I specifically chose this program for a few reasons. First, the design of the program enabled me to continue my profession. Second, the variety of faculty interests and expertise assured me that I would find mentors regardless of the direction that my studies took me. Finally, the balance between core curriculum and specialized courses guaranteed that I would be able to pursue which ever lines of questioning arose from my research.

The process of maintaining a family, profession, and graduate studies can be overwhelming. The cohort model implemented in the Ph.D. program was especially helpful in navigating life's balancing acts. The members of my cohort supported and encouraged one another, while members of previous cohorts provided invaluable guidance and reassurance. In addition to the value of the cohort model, the combined faculties of URI and RIC were a phenomenal asset. I built relationships with faculty members who were able to simultaneously push and support me. While I wouldn't have been able to complete the program without the support of my cohort, I wouldn't have developed my academic potential without the inspiring faculty.

Since completing my Ph.D. I have been engaged in interesting projects at the local, state, and national levels. I routinely draw on lessons learned from my peers and my professors as I continue to engage in the process of providing empowering public education. More than the credentials, my improved abilities to ask deep questions, read critically, and communicate effectively have immeasurably improved my professional practice. I continued to teach high school social studies for a few years after completing my Ph.D., was appointed to the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education, and took a position as Assistant Executive Director at National Education Association Rhode Island. I still have not answered the most difficult questions facing public education but earning my Ph.D. at URI/RIC has certainly prepared me to continue the pursuit.