Rebeca Porter, Carson-Newman University, TN

Student Spotlight: Rebeca Porter, Ed.D. Educational Leadership with Curriculum and Instruction Concentration

Currently enrolled in the Ed.D. Educational Leadership Curriculum and Instruction Concentration program, we asked student Rebeca Porter to tell us about her experience so far pursuing her graduate education degree at Carson-Newman University.

Why did you want to work in education? What inspired you?

I initially pursued education because my high school English teacher thought I should, and I entered the teaching field in 1998. At first, I was not inspired, but I became inspired over the years by watching brave teachers and educational leaders address the many changes needed in the field. Before beginning the Ed.D. Educational Leadership Curriculum and Instruction Concentration program at Carson-Newman University, I already had a graduate degree in English and TESOL certification.

Why did you choose Carson-Newman University for your educational leadership degree?

I chose Carson-Newman for my doctoral in educational leadership because of its impeccable reputation for education preparation and the convenience of online learning. I began to recognize leadership skills in myself that I wanted to fine-tune, and I wanted to envelope myself in research to be more knowledgeable for discussions. I also appreciated that the university offered two paths in educational leadership: curriculum and instruction and administration.

What skills and/or knowledge do you hope to gain by the end of your program? What career goal are you hoping to accomplish?

Some of the most important skills this program has taught me are how to be collaborative with other educational professionals, include all voices in democratic decision-making, and promote a shared vision. Other skills I have embraced are assertiveness, confidence, empathy, and risk-taking. I am quite pleased with my current position as a director of education/principal at a secondary school; however, I see myself moving into a director position overseeing multiple campuses and working with policy on the political level.

How will those skills help you with the current climate of education?

The current climate in education is tricky at best. Carson-Newman University prepared me with modern skills regarding research, curriculum, advocacy, leadership, reflection, growth, technology, and teamwork. Modern leaders must accept that the only constant in education is change. Carson-Newman University prepared me to be flexible in my approach yet solid in my educational philosophies and values.

What have you most enjoyed about your program so far?

There are so many areas in the program I have found enjoyable. The faculty is top-notch; they are helpful and supportive yet challenging. I have loved the textbooks and found them well-chosen for the courses. The classes have allowed much introspection, deep research, and collaboration with other professionals and classmates in my field. One of my favorite parts of the program was its applicability to my current director position; every day I use the leadership skills I was taught. I also greatly appreciated the program’s openness to diverse thought. While Carson-Newman University is a Christian university, I am not religious, and I found the program very open to secular approaches and values.

What has been the toughest part of your program so far?

The most challenging part of this program has been  knowing it is ending. My studies have grounded me during tough times. The principles of leadership helped me stay focused on the big picture and not the more negative topics that fill our world and offices now. While the coursework has been demanding, it was not overwhelming, and when I had questions, the faculty or other students were always there to help.

What advice would you give to prospective students considering the same program at Carson-Newman University?

My advice to prospective students considering a graduate degree from Carson-Newman University is to stop thinking about it and do it! You will come up with every excuse in the world on why the timing is not right, but in the end, the time is now. Take the first step, and the rest will fall into place. Education needs real leaders willing to step up and challenge what isn’t working. That could be you!