Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) Student Success Stories

Success stories from our Ed.D. students – both past and present – demonstrate how their online Doctor of Education degree from the University of New England has helped them individually. The Ed.D program at UNE is designed to prepare professionals from a variety of disciplines and industries with the skills and knowledge needed to enhance their current and future career goals. This broad range of fields is indeed represented in the spotlights found below. 

Read the stories and learn the motivations behind why these students and program alumni chose UNE for their Doctor of Education degree. Learn how they gained the skills necessary for advanced professional success, and how they are using their Ed.D. for career advancement. 

Britni Pitman, MSW, Ed.D. Candidate

Britni Pittman, MSW, Ed.D.

Ed.D. candidate Britni Pittman earned her MSW at UNE Online and has now chosen to continue at UNE to get a terminal degree.  Read about Britni, her academic journey, and how enrolling in the Ed.D. program led her to pursue a leadership capacity within her current job position.

“I am a master’s-level medical social worker where I practice at a small medical clinic. Starting when I was an undergraduate, I wanted to teach social work courses… Once I graduate, I hope to open more pathways to be a successful leader – mentoring and motivating others in the social work field. I am a full-time wife, mother, and employee that can balance this doable program with my everyday life. The flexibility the program provides is phenomenal.”

Read Britni's Full Spotlight

Michelle Donahue, Doctor. of Education program, Ed.D.

Michelle Donahue, DPT

Michelle Donahue has her Doctorate of Physical Therapy and is now pursuing her Ed.D. in order to advance her career in academia. Here she talks about what drives her, how she relates her current studies to her professional life, and her best advice for incoming Ed.D. candidates.

“The program topics are more than hypothetical – the entire program is built on practice, and many of the learning activities allowed you to do just that. There’s absolutely no busywork. I’ve also appreciated the diversity among my cohort, and the varying perspectives that people in different fields bring to the situation… The dissertation process is as rigorous as a Ph.D. program, which provides the research skills necessary to be an agent of change.”

Read Michelle's Full Spotlight

Skip Wilhoit, Ed.D.

Skip Wilhoit, Ed.D.

Skip Wilhoit, Ed.D. was recently awarded a $2.7 million dollar grant to benefit his K-12 school district. Here, he gives details about the grant he won, and how he used his real-life experience to shape his educational journey.

“After I served in the Army, I spent the first part of my civilian career in education as a teacher and coach. I have spent all of my nearly 25-year career in education proudly serving my hometown school district. I’ve been able to integrate the majority of my work experience into my Ed.D. dissertation. I’m doing a case study on our efforts to transform the climate of our school district… Earning this doctorate is not only going to help me to get where I want to go in my current position, but it will also open up options for me in retirement. It just goes to show that it doesn’t matter how old you are, there’s still learning to be done.”

Read Skip's Full Spotlight

Mike Fischer, Ed.D.

Michael Fischer

Dr. Michael Fischer is a recent graduate of the Ed.D. program at UNE Online and was recently named the president of York County Community College, in Wells, Maine. Fischer was chosen out of a field of nearly 50 candidates to lead this 1,600-student college in southern Maine.

“I’m lucky to have several good mentors in my life, and they advised me that to get to the next level, I needed a doctoral degree. So I knew this was the next step in my evolution. At UNE, one thing I have truly valued is UNE’s student-centered approach – it’s something I’ve tried to model, too… I wasn’t so entrenched in research that I was losing sight of things that could help me in my career as I was going through the program. And likewise, I wasn’t so focused on the hands-on aspect that I lost sight of the importance of research and its role in setting the foundation for theories moving forward. The Ed.D. program presented the best of both worlds – but it was the practitioner approach that really intrigued me.”

Read Michael's Full Spotlight

Fred Adhaya, MPH graduate and Ed.D. student at UNE Online

Fred Adhaya

Fred Adhaya earned his Master of Public Health through UNE Online, and now he has returned to attain his terminal degree, a Doctor of Education. In this post, Fred discusses why he chose to pursue his Ed.D. with UNE, and how his MPH has helped him along that journey.

The reason I chose to pursue the Doctor of Education, or Ed.D., following a successful MPH at UNE was a desire to more deeply understand the concept of leadership. I wanted to be able to hone my leadership skills and gain the skills to build a learning organization – concepts I was introduced to during the MPH program…I was fascinated by the different theories engaged during that exploration – and that interest morphed into a greater desire to understand how different social theories and different designs of organizations integrate and mold those organizations.”

Read Fred's Full Spotlight

Dianna Montfort Ed.D.

Dianna Montfort

Dianna Montfort, Ed.D. is a graduate of the UNE Doctor of Education program and was a presenter at last year’s inaugural CGPS Virtual Research and Scholarship Symposium. Here, she talks about her experience in the Ed.D. program as well as what it was like presenting at CGPS’s first Symposium in 2019.

“Originally from Indianapolis, I attended Indiana State University where I received both my bachelor’s as well as my master’s degrees. During that time I was your traditional student, not entirely sure of my direction, except that I always knew I wanted to get a doctorate degree. After much exploration of my options and a few years of career experience in the field of higher education, I knew I wanted to get an Ed.D.”

Read Dianna's Full Spotlight

Bonnie Blake, EdD

Bonnie Blake, Ed.D.

Bonnie was an educator at New York University for more than twenty-five years and wanted to earn a doctorate that would increase her knowledge about helping students in higher ed while simultaneously learning from her student colleagues. After completing her dissertation on “Transforming Disability to Advantage: A Phenomenological Study of Career Success for Dyslexics,” she’s now in the process of assembling an educational industry panel in New York to raise awareness of dyslexia.

“We were all remote, but all very comfortable speaking with one another – whether it was a video call or a phone call – and the colleagues I worked with were located all around the world. We had one person in China, and another one was in Grenada working for a veterinary program. At graduation, those of us who were able to make it to the ceremony immediately gravitated to one another and drew together in a little circle. We may have never met in person, but it didn’t feel that way at all…I think that in many ways it was more engaging than some classroom environments that I have seen.”

Read Bonnie's Full Spotlight

Jeffrey Brown, Chief Information Officer, Martin's Point Healthcare, Ed.D. in Transformative Leadership candidate at UNE Online

Jeffrey L. Brown

Jeffrey is currently in his third executive officer role as the Chief Information Officer for Martin’s Point Healthcare. When he felt that he’d reached a growth plateau, he took a year to research before choosing UNE’s Ed.D. to combine leadership skill acquisition, applied science, and applied research.

“The way each class builds on the next within the program, it literally all comes back to myself as a leader in my organization. I’ve experienced rapid-cycle development, seemingly on a weekly basis. Because of this program, I feel that I’ve accelerated my leadership thinking, comfort, and capability by leaps and bounds over the last two years. I can’t say enough about it. It’s been a remarkable experience.”

Read Jeff's Full Spotlight

Mike Wilber, Ed.D.

Mike Wilber

Mike is an Adult Basic Education Instructor at the Delaware Department of Education Adult and Prison Education Resources Division in Wilmington, Delaware, helping inmates earn their GEDs and learn job skills. He is also a GED Instructor in the Adult Education Division of James H. Groves Adult High School, and received the 2018 Region II Teacher Of the Year award for his diligent and compassionate work.

“I enjoy helping people recognize that they have dignity just because they exist, and nobody has the right to take that away from them. When you’re in our learning environment classroom, it’s a safe zone, and we can speak openly and respectfully about anything that we want to. That’s the way it should be. You never know when or how you’re going to touch a life, but you know for sure that you’re going to. It’s not only about being a teacher, it’s about humbling yourself so that others can rise above.”

Read Mike's Full Spotlight

Kylie Bragdon Ed.D. student

Kylie Bragdon

A native of both the seemingly-opposing worlds of academia and lobstering, Kylie recently joined the Maine Ocean School as Executive Director and serves as chair of the board of selectman in Winter Harbor. After completing her master’s degree, she said decided to pursue the Ed.D because she wanted to facilitate change on a grander scale.

“I began my Ed.D. with the general intention of pursuing a topic that would allow me to help the community I love. In the initial phases of this project, I already knew a lot about the industry and the current lobstermen. What I came up against was a lack of existing research. I wanted to pursue a topic related to leadership or education within the lobstering industry, but I didn’t have any studies to start with. So I started with a tiny idea, and I had to go through an intense process to build out my research question and then narrow it down.”

Read Kylie's Full Spotlight



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