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Chelsea Rushing ’19

MA Educational Leadership (Higher Education Concentration)

Posted in: Spotlights, Teacher Education Spotlights

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Why did you choose this field of study?  Why did you choose the program at Montclair State University?

I chose this field of study because I had a challenging undergraduate experience. I did not receive the support that I was seeking, and opportunities to build community and mentorship were scarce. I was a woman of color in a STEM field and often felt isolated. These experiences motivated me to attend the Open House for Montclair State’s Educational Leadership program. At the open house, I met the program coordinator and a student who eventually became a mentor and one of my largest influences. I applied shortly after attending the open house, and in addition to my acceptance, I received a part-time assistantship within the College of Education and Human Services.

What were the best parts of your program?

One of the highlights of the program for me was the dialogue we engaged in during class. We were pushed to reflect and think critically about our experiences and opinions. I learned a lot from the experiences of my peers.

I also loved the professional development opportunities that the program offered. I left the program with several mentors who offered me experience within the field and gave me the chance to apply theory to practice. Additionally, I presented at two conferences along with my peers. We presented at Rutgers and the 50th Anniversary of the Educational Opportunity Fund Conference on the Social Capital of First-Generation College Students. These experiences allowed me to showcase my commitment to equity, diversity, and access.

What was your favorite class or experience in the program, and why was that so important to you?

One of my favorite experiences occurred in my Group Dynamics course. A classmate led a portion of the class in the format of a graduate student support group. This was refreshing because we seldom discuss the issues that graduate students may be facing. The discussion really gave me a better understanding of the obstacles my peers and colleagues were facing.

Now that you are working in your field, how did your program prepare you for this position?

During the program, I always focused on underserved and underrepresented populations. I made sure that I was constantly reviewing the literature around the equity and access of these populations through the lens of the course that I was taking at the time. The assistantships that the program connected me to also helped me in my current position. During the program, I worked in Montclair State’s Educational Opportunity Fund Program department and was able to conduct my Capstone Project there.

Please tell us about what you are currently doing and what your future plans are.

I am currently working as an Educational Opportunity Fund Counselor at Saint Peter’s University. I work with low-income and first-generation scholars. I am planning to become an adjunct professor for the 2019-2020 academic year in addition to my position as a counselor. Within the next two to three years I plan to become a doctoral candidate.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your program, the College of Education & Human Services, or Montclair State University that we haven’t asked about?

I would like to give some advice to the incoming cohort, and any future Higher Education Leadership students. It is very important that you become involved while in the program. Be open to the opportunities that come your way and work hard at everything you do. Go to conferences, attend program-sponsored events, volunteer, network, learn, create, and support those coming after you! There are always new experiences to be had, and each experience will contribute to your development academically, personally, and professionally. Last but not least, never stop being a student. There is always more to learn, and always room to grow.