Colleen Sullivan, a Scholastic Outreach Representative in the Pittsburgh, PA, area

Alumni Spotlight: Colleen Sullivan, M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction

Colleen Sullivan graduated from Point Park University with an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction and currently works as a Scholastic Outreach Representative in the Pittsburgh, PA, area. With already several years of experience, we asked Colleen to tell us about her experience pursuing her master’s degree at Point Park University. Hear what she had to say below.

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

I have wanted to work in education ever since I was a young girl. The inspiration came to me in second grade, to be exact. That is the year I had my favorite teacher of all grade levels. I wanted to emulate my second-grade teacher and be just like her. I loved the way she cared for me and made me feel included each day in the classroom community. Simply put, she made learning fun.

When I was a young girl my grandparents also purchased me my very own teacher’s kit. It was complete with a chalkboard and all teaching essentials to pretend to be a teacher. The desire began years ago and has shaped me to be in this career today. I’ve always considered myself to be a life-long learner. I love learning and share my love for learning with colleagues and students every day.

Why did you choose Point Park University for your master’s degree in curriculum and instruction?

I chose Point Park University because I was drawn to their mission, vision, and values. Point Park is dedicated to academic excellence and community engagement. Point Park also encourages innovation, and this is very evident through the courses I’ve taken in the curriculum and instruction program.

I am from Pittsburgh and the location of Point Park was ideal. Although the program was done entirely online, I live close to the campus and can visit at any time. Point Park serves a diverse population of students, and it is a very welcoming atmosphere. With any career path in education, Point Park is a great choice for schooling and preparation.

What skills did you gain or sharpen through your program at Point Park University, and how do you use them today?

Through the curriculum and instruction program, I sharpened my leadership and instructional skills. Education is constantly changing, and even in today’s world, we face unprecedented challenges. I have more foundational knowledge on diversity issues and school reform, as well as issues in law and education.

After teaching in the classroom for years, I’ve moved into a role working for a company in their education department. I use the skills I’ve obtained through this program to help with meetings among my colleagues and with taking on new work projects. My workplace is very diverse, so I strive to produce work that people will find meaningful. I was assigned a newsletter project in which I had to interview students at the sites and workers at work and tie it together for our after-school programming.

How has your master’s degree impacted you in terms of your current position or a position you’d like to attain in the future?

My master’s degree has impacted me because it is going to open the door to many new opportunities down the road. In my current position, I could see my master’s degree and everything I have learned help me in a way that I employ different instructional strategies and methods when I visit classrooms. I will also continue to take on more work projects to promote leadership for myself as a part of the team. I aspire to move into a leadership role at some point to supervise and advise others to grow and improve as individuals and as a whole team.

What was a challenge you faced during your curriculum and instruction program, and who or what helped you overcome it?

I would say one challenge I faced during my curriculum and instruction program, at times, was communication. A few times I reached out to professors by phone to have discussions rather than over the online platform. There were times I had specific questions and felt I needed an answer rather soon.

Another challenge I faced during my time was some of the research process. I learned a lot on my own and strengthened my abilities through the coursework assignments. I am now able to do more in-depth research on a variety of topics. I have a more well-rounded knowledge base after completing the program. With courage and determination, I prevailed through challenges I was faced with.

What was the biggest takeaway from your curriculum and instruction program?

I had more than one takeaway from my curriculum and instruction program. My first takeaway was to embrace challenges and find an answer. I think I have grown tremendously in the area of embracing challenges I face. I have grown mentally through the experience. While becoming more comfortable with embracing challenges, I have grown as a leader. I want to take on more responsibility in my current role due to this takeaway.

Another takeaway is simply that it is important to be aware of school issues and how education relates to law. Prior to this program, this is an area I had little knowledge in. I have grown and become more aware of its importance overall.

What would you tell (or what advice would you give) prospective students considering the M.A. Curriculum and Instruction degree program at Point Park University?

I would advise prospective students considering this program to first take time to consider where they see themselves down the road. Although with me, I personally thought I may still be in the classroom at this point. I have taken another route and have explored options outside of that setting. At times, I think this degree is beneficial to those who wish to stay in the school setting and move up to an administrative role.

I am hopeful, however, that this degree will come in handy greatly for me in a few years if I get promoted at my place of employment to a supervisory role.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I would share that if you are an educator and want to further your education, that this is a nice program. I also found this program to be appealing because it is broad. I also think the online platform allowed for some flexibility in my schedule. If you are considering this program, take the leap and look forward to what lies ahead.