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Ph.D., Ed.D. … and delighted to be done

Their numbers are few, so theirs is the shortest part of any university’s commencement program. But the “hooding” of doctoral program graduates represents the completion of long and sometimes exhausting journeys. First, these folks finished 18 or more years of formal education before they even began their doctoral programs. Many established careers. Then they spent years — three? 10? — taking classes, doing research, writing dissertations, all the while working to support themselves and their families.

So let’s pause to offer special congrats to our Washington State University College of Education 2012 doctoral graduates. May the wind be at their backs as they start their dream careers. EduCoug invited two of them — one a doctor of philosophy, one a doctor of education — to share their thoughts.

Patricia Celaya, Ph.D.
Patricia Celaya, Ph.D.

Patricia Celaya, a native of Mexico, came to Pullman from  the “different universe” of San Diego. She promised herself she wouldn’t return to California until she had that Ph.D. The advanced degree in counseling psychology would allow her the career options of providing psychotherapy, teaching, and doing research. Or all of those things.

“I was inspired by a professor at San Diego State University, Dr. Roberto J. Valasquez, who took the time to explain to me how I could achieve a Ph.D.,” she writes. “I was part of the McNair Achievement Program, which also provided me with information about graduate school and prepared me for the doctoral process.”

With diploma in hand, she is looking for work in California as a university psychologist. Eventually, she would like to provide services for underserved populations. Her time at WSU included working for Multicultural Student Services.

“I was fortunate enough to have assistantships which not only helped me financially, but allowed me to develop professionally,” she writes. “Helping students reach their educational goals made me accountable and helped me regain motivation during times in which the doctoral process became difficult.”

Patricia credits students and colleagues with keeping her from becoming too focused on day-to-day responsibilities. That “very solid Cougar family” she says, helped her reach her goal.

Jane Lotz-Drlik, Ed.D.
Jane Lotz-Drlik, Ed.D.

Jane Lotz-Drlik had two reasons to be emotional on May 5. It was both commencement day and the wedding anniversary she would have shared with her late husband, Yakima psychiatrist Dr. John Drlik. She writes:

“Jack and I collaborated in research around professional stress issues, stress interventions, and diverse populations. He was tremendously excited at the possibility of my undertaking the doctoral program. When he was diagnosed with a brain tumor, we put our work on hold in order to battle the cancer; I continued teaching while caring for Jack.”

Jack died in 2005. Jane mustered her energy, quit teaching, and moved to Pullman to begin her doctoral work. Then, in 2009, her own health was weakened by the stressful loss of Associate Dean Len Foster, who had been a special inspiration to her. He died after serving one week as acting dean following the death of Dean Judy Mitchell.

“I thought the Ed.D. program was over for me,” Jane recalls. “Thanks to the encouragement of friends and family, and the affirmation offered by many people, including Drs. Debra Sellon,  Jason Sievers, Tariq Akmal, Dawn Shinew, Arreed Barabasz, and academic coordinator Nick Sewell — and by my dissertation committee — I was able to build  my strength and continue the work.  I’m so grateful to everyone for helping me to, as my friend Claudia says, ‘Get ‘er done.’ ”

After 32 years as a teacher, administrator and staff developer, Jane is looking forward to job hunting “and the view around this bend in the road.”

Washington State University