Six doctoral students can unequivocally say that they are leaders in more ways than one.
The Leaders in Exceptional-education Addressing Diversity, Research, and Service (LEADERS) grant at NAU is a unique program led by Dr. Pat Peterson that offers financial support to a limited number of scholars who pursue a Curriculum and Instruction (C & I) Ph.D. program with a focus on culturally and linguistically diverse exceptional (CLDE) education.
“Since receiving this grant, I have developed a deeper appreciation for the field of education and greater purpose to ensure that all students’ voices are heard and appreciated,” said Develyn Biagas.
The grant from the US Department of Education, Office of Special Education Projects, is a 5-year award of $250,000 per year to the university to support the doctoral scholars with tuition, books and summer residence, and research support and professional networking opportunities.
The experience itself is uncommon. Unlike some Ph.D. cohorts, the students are located in virtually opposite corners of the southwest region: two in Tucson, one in Las Vegas, one in Southern California, one in Yuma, and one in Window Rock. “In order for me to be able to work toward gaining a Ph.D. as a single parent I needed to be able to stay home, close to family,” said Candi Running Bear. “I have depended on my family so much already this first semester that I don’t know that I could have done this program anywhere else without worrying too much about my daughter. I am very grateful for the hybrid set up of the C&I program.”
Don’t assume that distance affects the sense of community, though. “We have a close cohort where we support one another,” said Adriana Frates.
The program’s participants have high aspirations. Graduates of similar programs have all taught in higher education, and the LEADERS cohort is no different. “I hope to gain the education and experience I need to one day become a faculty member at a university,” said Running Bear. “I want to do research in Native American communities that will help to improve early childhood education in these areas.”
Dr. Pat Peterson has a long history of securing grants, with four similar grants prior to the LEADERS grant. These successful programs have yielded 15 graduates and 4 doctoral candidates.
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