Q: Why did you decided to return to school for a masters degree?
A: My husband was in a Ph.D program at Walden University and I was offered an opportunity to take a ‘free’ class. I selected a class on Leadership. As great as that class was what caught my interest was a section on Servant Leadership and a text by Larry Spears. I looked up Larry Spears and saw that he was an adjunct at Gonzaga. Meanwhile, my husband mentioned that he’d heard Gonzaga has an online leadership program so I called.
Q: Was the online learning experience what you thought it would be?
A: The online learning experience far exceeded my expectations. I must admit that I do not think quickly on my feet. If someone asks me a question, I have to sit back, ponder the question and then respond with research and qualified information. Perhaps this is why I didn’t do well in ‘traditional in-class’ education but online education has been a huge blessing for my learning style. Additionally, I am a multi-tasker so I did exceptionally well actively reading. An example might be that I’ll read a few pages, fold laundry and think about the content, and then go for a jog, and then read a few pages, and think about the content.
Q: How has the program impacted your job, career, or personal life.
A: Where do I start! If I can summarize it simply, a true servant-leader not only impacts their direct contact but also those around them. For example, the professors and staff at Gonzaga have modeled Servant-Leadership and this in turn has caused me to model servant-leadership. Both my parents and husband have been blessed and have grown through my experience at Gonzaga.
Q: Do you see the world differently because of this program?
A: Yes! One of the most powerful books has been Paulo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”. It was the kick off to what became a journey that was modeled in a new way. I become defensive and shut down with the banking system of education or when people tell me what to think (perhaps that’s why I didn’t engage in primary or secondary school). When instructors engage me with questions to elicit dialogue, I suddenly came alive and I want to engage and learn the material. The experiential part of my Gonzaga experience and the opportunity to grow and develop has been truly priceless. I now model leadership skills by eliciting dialogue and active inquiry and my husband has been transformed through my Gonzaga experience.
Q: Did you participate in study abroad or domestic immersions?
A: Mt. Adams! When Dr. Popa first introduced the idea at my ORGL-502 class on campus, knowing I had a 2-3 year old (at the time; he’s now 4-years-old) I didn’t see the possibility of taking 3-days to climb a mountain. Dr. Popa spent endless amounts of time helping me make the decision to climb Mt. Adams and it was in the Top 5 of extraordinary life experiences ever. In addition to transforming from a couch potato to climber in 5-months (my physical transformation was extraordinary!), the content of adversity and hardiness became a new area of study for me. In light of my experience with my son’s micro-prematurity, I may explore the possibility of pursuing a Ph.D and study the impacts of teaching adversity and prematurity.
Q: What was your experience with the faculty?
A: Every individual at Gonzaga University models servant leadership. I haven’t met one person who isn’t wholly committed to the mission at Gonzaga University. Every single faculty member, staff and individual exudes servant leadership in action.
Q: What would you say to others who are considering this degree?
A: “If not now, when”. A degree from Gonzaga is more than a piece of paper or a M.A. behind your name. It is an opportunity to reflect on where you are currently in life and take steps towards becoming something better. As I prepare to walk for graduation in May, I believe Gonzaga has just started me on a lifelong path. In my Servant Leadership course we were introduced to Hall’s work that outlines how a Servant Leader continues to develop throughout life. As I have written earlier, I didn’t know what ‘better’ looked like. It is a whole experience – mind, heart, spirit.