Lifelong Learners: Developing Expertise in Higher Ed
How one alumna shifted her career path and discovered her life purpose
Dr. Carol Ann Samhaber has always had a passion for people, but she spent more than a decade working in a general business capacity in information technology and research. Now a human resources professor and academic program coordinator at Algonquin College in Ottawa, Ontario, her office is filled with Walden University memorabilia. Samhaber ’15, ’12 loves being surrounded by items that remind her of the institution that changed her life.
After a stint in the business world, Samhaber decided to pursue teaching in higher education to gain more personal fulfillment from her career. She started teaching part time at Algonquin in 2001, but she knew she wanted to be more involved.
To advance her career in education, Samhaber began researching graduate programs. When she learned about Walden from a colleague, she fell in love with the school’s philosophy.
The helpfulness of the Enrollment Specialists in answering her questions didn’t hurt, either. She enrolled in the MS in Higher Education program in 2011 and graduated 18 months later.
“Getting my master’s degree at Walden was by far, without comparison, the best academic experience I have ever had,” says Samhaber, who earned a bachelor’s degree at Carleton University and a certificate of business administration at the University of Ottawa. “At Walden, I was surrounded by excellence in every capacity. My advisors were attentive, and my faculty members were truly passionate about the course material.”
After completing her master’s degree, Samhaber wanted to continue her studies and re-enrolled for her Doctor of Education (EdD) . During the program, she researched professional development among college faculty and argued that professors should be teaching experts and subject matter experts, not one or the other.
“My doctorate was the most invigorating and challenging pursuit I’ve ever gone through, and it became so meaningful,” she says. “I got to really dig into what interested me in my field—how professional development affects teaching—and it showed me my life’s purpose. There was no question I would continue to pursue education.”
Samhaber also learned how to better apply the principles of designing a rigorous academic course for students using evidence-based practices grounded in literature.
“My instructional strategy has become more elegant because I use my research to bring new ideas into the classroom,” she says. “My EdD made me see how to bring technology into my classes and how to create formative assessments. I feel like I have a well-designed tool kit now.”
Samhaber graduated with her doctorate in 2015, but learning is still at the core of everything she does. “Being a student at Walden became such a life force for me, so when I was done, I felt a sense of emptiness,” she says. “It unquestionably changed who I am as a person.”
It changed her so much that she instills Walden’s mission of positive social change in all her lessons so her students will be inspired to be productive community members. As the human resources management program coordinator, she also acts as a liaison for professional associations, industry stakeholders, and advisory committees.
“By being the best I can be, I will give students the knowledge and skills they need to start a career and be more engaged with the community,” Samhaber says. “I want my students to become engines for social change, as I hope I have been.”