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Walden Magazine // Jan 01, 2013

Why I Refer: Combining Passion and Rigor

An alumna explains how earning her PhD gave her the opportunity to conduct research and train colleagues.

Jennifer Sears

Dr. Jennifer Sears.

NAME: Dr. Jennifer Sears ’10

DEGREE EARNED: PhD in Education

CURRENT JOB: Instructional System Specialist Personnel at Hohenfels Elementary School, Department of Defense Education Activity in Germany

HOW DID YOU LEARN ABOUT WALDEN? In winter 2005, a colleague was talking about starting a master’s program in reading. The military has connections to several universities, but I hadn’t heard of Walden. I saw that Walden is accredited by the same governing agency as the Department of Defense schools. Having been involved in the accreditation process at my school, I know how rigorous it is.

WHEN DID YOU KNOW WALDEN WAS RIGHT FOR YOU? I didn’t know what it would take, being a U.S. student overseas. Attending residencies gave me the first glimpse at what would be required and the opportunity to work intensively with faculty and other students in small groups.

WHAT DID YOU TAKE AWAY FROM THE PROGRAM? I learned that I really enjoy research. I’m very passionate about my topic of literacy, and getting my Ph.D. gave me an opportunity to train teachers, present at workshops, and write. I also learned a lot about becoming a mentor.

WHY DO YOU REFER OTHERS TO WALDEN? Walden is a fantastic choice for the working person. I also truly believe in social change. It’s what my colleagues and I do daily with children of military personnel. I have six colleagues who earned their master’s degrees at Walden after I referred them or had discussions with them before they enrolled. They saw the great learning opportunities I had with Walden, and they’ve also learned it firsthand.

Refer friends, family, and colleagues at