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Spotlight on Walden // Jan 15, 2014

Adept Advice From a Doctoral Graduate

Dr. Krista K. Laursen ’13 knows what it takes to write a successful doctoral study. After all, the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) graduate was recently honored as the 2014 Frank Dilley Award for Outstanding Doctoral Study recipient for her research, Leadership Strategies and Initiatives for Combating Medicaid Fraud and Abuse. Here, Spotlight on Walden highlights what the lead project manager and chief operating officer for NEON Inc. in Boulder, Colo., says it takes to get the most out of your program:

Own your education. “When a classmate was lamenting the writing assignments and deadlines in a comment, one of my first Walden instructors said, ‘You have to own your education.’ That stuck with me,” Dr. Laursen says. “This is your education and no one will do the work for you. You have to be committed to it.”

Build relationships with your committee. “As soon my chair, Dr. Kenneth Gossett, was assigned to me, we had a phone conversation that set the tone of our relationship for years,” she says. “He wanted to understand my passions and why I was interested in my topic.” From there, they communicated at least once a week. In the last two months of her doctoral study, their calls increased to every other day. “He and my committee members were the keys to my success,” Dr. Laursen continues. “They were just as passionate about my topic as I was and became my mentors and advocates.”

Set goals for each day, week, and month. “I’ve always been good at time management, but my doctoral study helped me develop a laser focus,” she says. Set milestones to meet every week; map out schedules for the day, week, and your total program; and ask your committee to hold you accountable at every step.

Celebrate each milestone. It didn’t matter if it was a chapter of her doctoral study or an in-class discussion posting—Dr. Laursen celebrated it all. “I celebrated even the smallest successes,” she says. Whether that came in the form of chocolate or a movie with family, there was always something she could look forward to as a much-needed break that would help her recharge her batteries.

Build relationships with your classmates. “Your classmates are amazing resources. They have diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and they can help you by offering feedback on your papers and drafts,” Dr. Laursen says. “I made some of my best friends in the DBA program.”

“Completing the DBA program changed my life,” she continues. “It broadened my perspective and my willingness to learn new things. It’s also given me a lot of confidence. I can take on a new subject area, master it, and produce a document I’m very proud of. I hope my experiences taught my sons that learning is possible at any age.”