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A guest post by Helene Maliko-Abraham

That was the question I asked myself over and over the summer of 2013. I had decided to quit my full time job and return to school in pursuit of my EdD. Making that decision was perhaps the hardest decision I made during my adult life. I earned my master’s degree while I worked full time. I was also in my thirties. As I embarked on my EdD journey, I had just turned 50. Two decades sounded and felt like a lot. I worried that I wouldn’t have the same clarity, focus and determination that I did 20 years ago.

When I made the decision to quit my job, somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I knew that in order to achieve my goals I couldn’t be distracted. For the first time in my life, I was able to pursue a degree without having to work. I enrolled in a hybrid EdD course, which met once a month every Friday night and Saturday for the first year of the program. I was one of a cohort of 18, which meant we were to progress through the program together as a group. I’ll never forget that first night of class, when we were asked to introduce ourselves to each other. When my turn came, I gave a little autobiographical sketch of myself and then proudly announced with a grin from ear to ear, “oh yeah, and I quit my job last night." I said it that night, and I will say it again, quitting my job was hands down the best decision I have ever made.

Quitting my job gave me the peace of mind that I needed in order to pursue my EdD with everything I could throw at it. I was always a good student, but more or less rushed through assignments in order to get them done. Going back to school, without having the added responsibility of full time employment afforded me the time to think and read and write. It afforded me the ability to totally immerse myself in course content. The most important thing that happened as a result of going back to school was that my new found confidence in my academic abilities uncovered the scholar I was becoming. I’ll never forget a conversation I had with my supervising professor one late fall afternoon while we were discussing my dissertation proposal. She looked at me and said, “You are becoming quite the scholar." 

Twenty years after my last foray into higher education, I found that my focus was sharper, my comprehension was enhanced, and I was becoming a determined researcher. I absorbed the materials and theories I was presented with. I regularly looked for peer reviewed journal articles to supplement course required text books. And much to my surprise, I even began to read the “suggested” text books that were listed on course syllabuses. I’m glad I waited until I reached 50 to pursue my EdD. My thirty-year-old self wouldn’t have appreciated it the way my now 50ish self does. 

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Helene Maliko-Abraham is a doctoral candidate at Drexel University. She is pursuing her EdD in Educational Leadership and Management with a concentration in Creativity and Innovation. Her dissertation defense is scheduled for August 2016.  Helene also has a personal website, www.orchestratingcreativity.com where, as the Creativity Maestra (@creativityguru), she discusses all topics dedicated to the pursuit and study of creativity.  

27 Jul 2016

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