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Walden Magazine // Apr 09, 2014

Jennifer Leach: My Story

Since earning my degree, more doors and opportunities are open to me because now I’m seen as an expert.

Previously, when I walked into a room, I felt like the least-experienced person there, but I knew I could do more. That’s why I pursued the doctorate with Walden, and I loved every minute of it.

What was your ultimate goal in obtaining your Ph.D.?

I wanted to be in higher education. That’s what I love, what inspires and motivates me. I knew that to become a graduate professor, I needed the doctorate and the research background.

I wanted to do something that was very motivating, and I find students in general to be very inspiring.

What was your experience like with Walden faculty?

I loved the scholar-practitioner approach that everyone seemed to have. The professors I worked with had real-world experience, in addition to being scholars.

They knew the research and about sitting in the therapist’s chair. They knew both sides of it, and I really trusted them. I found them extremely motivating.

How did your degree change your world?

When I was taking race relations and community ethics classes, I was working with other people who had very different backgrounds than me, and I loved that. I loved getting their perspective and opening up my world.

We could cheer one another on to keep going in the program. Doing a five-year program takes a lot of determination, so the support you get from your peers is really important.

I’ve also inspired people in my community. Three women came to a talk I was giving and said they, too, wanted to get their doctorates. I know that one got into the psychology leadership organizational program, and the other worked in health psychology.

It feels good that someone sees the value in what you’ve done and is spurred on to do the same.

What does all this mean to you personally?

Education has changed my life. I believe that education can get anybody out of anything.

It’s given me more confidence. Having those letters after my name really does mean something, and if it hadn’t been for Walden’s online program, I probably wouldn’t have been able to get my doctorate.

Read more personal stories from Walden students and alumni.