By Isabel Morales
Part of In Their Own Words, USC Rossier’s series of student blog posts
It’s both scary and exciting to hit the halfway point of my program.
Last semester, I engaged in work that I am very proud of. As part of the TEMS (Teacher Education in Multicultural Societies) concentration requirements, I was paired up with a professor from the MAT program, Dr. Mora-Flores. I observed her teach a class on educational issues affecting Latino students, and worked with her to plan and deliver a unit on immigration. I was extremely nervous to run a graduate-level class, but was happy to have such a supportive mentor guiding me along the process. It gave me a taste of what it would be like to work in higher education as a teacher educator, and I hope to have more opportunities like this in the future!
As the president of the Educational Doctorate Student Assembly (EDSA), I also collaborated with other members of the board as well as the Ed.D. office to host a panel titled “Secrets to a Successful Dissertation.” I was happy that former Dissertation of the Year winners Imre Meszaros, Sumun Pendakur, and Wendy Marshall were able to join Ed.D. graduate Rocke DeMark and myself on this panel. They gave us great advice for getting through the dissertation process. They assured me that my dissertation did not have to be my life’s work, nor did the topic have to be related to my future career goals. They said that we have no idea what doors will open up for us, and that a dissertation is proof that we can conduct a research study. We may be asked to do work or future studies that are unrelated to our dissertation topic, and that is OK. It really relieved me of the pressure to find the “perfect” topic that would define me and my work for the rest of my life. Dr. Pendakur also reminded us to celebrate our small achievements along the way, treating ourselves to chocolate or satisfying reward for writing. I wish that more people could have joined us for this panel, but fortunately we have the video online so that others can hear their wisdom!
From now until my commencement in May 2014, I will be embarking on the dissertation phase of the program. Writing a dissertation seems like such a daunting task, but I’m glad that to be working with Dr. Venegas, whose research interests are so similar to my own.
Isabel Morales is a proud product of Boyle Heights and LAUSD. She holds a B.A. and M.Ed. from UCLA and is in her ninth year of teaching high school social studies. Isabel has travelled to Brazil, Costa Rica, and Mexico as the recipient of various educator fellowships, and will embark on an educational delegation to Botswana this summer. Isabel is part of the Council of Youth Researchers, a group of educators, scholars, and students engaged in participatory action research. In an effort to further serve as a role model to low-income students of color, as well as expand her own knowledge base, she is currently pursuing an Ed.D. at USC.