Searching: Part 1

I have been trying to fix my philanges to write this blog series for quite some time now. I wasn’t sure where to begin or where to end it. What to say or how to say it. I wanted to use this space to inspire and support #NativeScholars. I wanted to use this space to share what I wish I would have known or what I learned along the way, sometimes too late.

In the upcoming series, I wanted to share my raw doctorate experience with you. I use raw with intention. My social media presents the highlight reel of my story. They show the good. The happiness. The joy. While there was good, happiness and joy, there was also a lot of other things along that spectrum.

 |Part One: Searching|

I began searching for a doctoral program during my Master’s program and I was completely lost. Every single program seemed completing different. There was EdD and PhD. There were long programs and programs that seemed shorter. There were social justice programs and research focused programs. I was so overwhelmed. I didn’t know where to start.

Advice: Seek help.
This is where I began. I spoke to those in doctorate programs, I spoke to professors, I spoke to graduates…I simply began talking and asking questions. I scoured websites for every program I came across. I read about course requirements, required credit hours, course names, the research faculty were engaged in, but most importantly, I wanted a program and an institution bent towards social justice. As a Native scholar, I did not want my voice to be lost. While I knew education was my focus, this was so broad. Something I didn’t realize when I began.

The best advice I received was to also question my graduate programs. So that’s what I did. I began emailing and calling professors at the institutions that I was interested in. While some scholar would have made notes about their prestige or what opportunities they offer, I made notes on how they made me feel. Were they excited? Responsive? Passionate? Interested in Native issues? These were the things that mattered to me. I knew that I would be spending a lot of time with faculty and I wanted to choose a program and faculty that made me comfortable. This alone eliminated all of my schools but one, UNCG.

What I wish I would have known…
I wish I would have begun my search with the end in mind. What career did I see myself in? What was my dream job? What did I want to change? How did I see myself affecting education? What role would I play in the realm of education as it relates to Native students? Did I want to be a professor? Administrator? What did I want to do?

It’s amazing that these same questions, the same ones that haunt us so horridly in high school and during our undergraduate career, again rear their ugly head in the search for doctoral program. These are the questions I wish I would have prayed on and pondered. Instead, I was so tired of trying to define myself by my future and my career  that I completely ignored these questions. Purposefully. I wanted the sense of freedom to simply explore the world of education. And, at the time, I 100% believe that was what I needed. Free exploration. However, having these questions in the back of my mind would have helped during my search… Allowing me to wrap my mind around how I was going to merge my current self with my future self to fully reach my goals and explore my passions.

Ahhh… so the search landed on the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in the Department of Educational Studies and Cultural Foundations.

Then comes… the application..
Until next time.

Dr. Locklear 

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