During our conversation, Mark told us how social inequality—experienced on a personal level—spurred him to take action. Through his studies at Walden, he became empowered with the knowledge he needed to work toward addressing this imbalance.

Mark Maxwell

In North Carolina, same-sex couples can jointly foster children, but only one party is allowed to be the legal parent. The purpose of my study was to explore the experiences of that hidden population of parents.

What inspired you to earn your degree?

My inspiration really is my children, because they are the ones who are directly impacted by the state’s policy.

Knowing that there is a policy that directly impacts them if something were to happen to me or to my partner, that could change their lives forever, was the driving force for my studies.

Did Walden meet your expectations?

The Walden system is well set up. It’s designed to allow the students to connect, to bridge dialogue with each other, and to really form partnerships and friendships that go beyond the Internet.

"My inspiration really is my children, because they are the ones who are directly impacted by the state's policy."I’d studied online before, but Walden was way ahead in things like organization, communication, and systems.

How did Walden support you in selecting your dissertation topic?

Walden said, “You find something that inspires you, and you do something that is going to impact your world.” When a student can do that, when they can really believe in a particular cause or injustice, then they can say, “I need to do something about that,” that’s when the passion comes in.

How has your degree changed your world?

I am not the person I was three years ago. I feel that I am more confident and more competent. I can talk about important issues and not feel at all threatened by the educational levels of others. I feel that my Walden education stacks up against any other institution out there.

Mark MaxwellHow have you inspired others?

My now 13-year-old came to me at 8 years old. He was in the third grade but was reading on a first grade level. Now he’s in the seventh grade and is close to honor roll—and he really wants it. The other day I received the certificate from the Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration. I explained to him what that was and he asked if he could do it too. So, if I'm inspiring my little guys, then I've done my job.

Now that you’ve earned your degree, what will you be able to achieve?

First, it will give me the credibility to be able to publish. I have already submitted one manuscript to the Journal of Health and Human Services Administration, and I’m also working on a second. My initial goal is to publish four this year.

The second is to get a teaching post. I want to continue advocacy for children and for those who don’t feel that they have a voice.

I think my obligation as a Walden graduate is to use every skill that I've developed through the years and use my degree to push change forward.

Read more personal stories from Walden students and alumni.

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