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Becoming an…Educator

Poutisak Smoky Rith

Doctor of Education (EdD) in Educational Leadership and Management – Student

California School of Education at Alliant International University

Q: What inspired you to pursue this profession/degree program? 

A: I was inspired to pursue a Doctor of Education (EdD) in Educational Leadership and Management for a combination of personal and professional reasons. Firstly, my strong desire for policy development and advocacy in education drove me to seek this degree. I aim to become a voice for disproportionately impacted individuals who are affected by systemic barriers, particularly individuals from first-generation, low-income households, LGBTQIA+ communities, and current/former foster youth, experiences that are integral to my identity. Additionally, I am passionate about developing equity-minded and socially just individuals who can champion fairness, inclusivity, and belonging in education. Secondly, I view this journey as a means of personal growth and a significant challenge. Delving deep into educational theory and practice within this program not only enhances my expertise but also fulfills a personal sense of accomplishment. Lastly, the prospect of mentoring and educating future educators, especially those with backgrounds similar to mine, is a deeply motivating factor. I want to contribute to the development of the next wave of educational leaders who can address the unique challenges faced by underserved communities and drive positive change in education.

Q: Describe the most rewarding parts of your student experience so far. 


The most rewarding parts of my student experience in the Doctor of Education (EdD) in Educational Leadership and Management program so far have been multifaceted. Firstly, gaining a comprehensive and in-depth knowledge of the educational system has been immensely rewarding. This program has equipped me with the tools and insights to understand and address complex challenges in education. Additionally, the online format has made education incredibly accessible. The flexibility to study from anywhere has allowed me to balance my academic pursuits with a busy working and volunteering schedule. The ability to access lectures, resources, and engage with fellow students at any time has been a game-changer.  

Equally important is the willingness of both students and instructors to help and support one another. The sense of community and collaboration within the program fosters a conducive learning environment. I've not only learned from instructors but also from the diverse experiences and perspectives of my peers, enriching my understanding of educational leadership and management. 

In sum, the program's accessibility, the commitment of both instructors and students to collaboration and support, and the depth of knowledge I've gained on the educational system collectively make this educational journey deeply rewarding and fulfilling. It is especially accommodating for those with busy working schedules, making it a valuable investment in my career and personal growth.

Q: Share your advice for new students on how to be successful in the program. 

A: My advice for new students in the Doctor of Education (EdD) in Educational Leadership and Management program is to be proactive in seeking support and building a strong academic community. Don't hesitate to ask questions, as it's a crucial part of learning and understanding the material thoroughly. Reach out to a classmate – you'd be surprised how much you can learn from your peers. Attend office hours to get one-on-one guidance and feedback from your instructors, and don't be afraid to reach out to your advisor for help with any program-related concerns. Developing a study group can be a fantastic strategy to receive clarification on projects, share ideas, and provide mutual support. So, embrace the collaborative spirit of the program, make the most of the resources available, and remember that success is often a shared journey.

Don't forget to give yourself a breather when the academic load gets heavy. It's absolutely crucial not to feel guilty for spending time on yourself or with loved ones. Balance is key to maintaining both your mental and physical well-being throughout the program. In the midst of rigorous studies and collaborative efforts, remember that your own health and happiness are integral to your success. So, don't hesitate to take those moments for self-care and relaxation – they're an essential part of the journey.

Q: What impact do you hope to make through the work you do? 

A: The impacts I hope to make through the work I do is rooted in advocating for individuals who have historically been disproportionately impacted by systemic barriers in education. This includes first-generation and low-income students, LGBTQIA+ students, current/former foster youth, migrant students, non-traditional students, and BIPOC students. My aspiration is to champion their rights and create a more inclusive and equitable educational environment.

Looking to the future, I aim to be a catalyst for change in educational policies, advocating for reforms that prioritize equity for all individuals, regardless of their background or identity. Additionally, I hope to inspire and empower others to pursue higher education, encouraging them to use their knowledge and skills to make a positive difference in the world.

Furthermore, I am committed to assisting in the development of future leaders who are not only academically capable but also equity-minded and socially just. By fostering a sense of justice and inclusivity in the next generation of leaders, I aim to contribute to a more equitable and fair society, where everyone has the opportunity to thrive and succeed.

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