GCU reaches 2,000 doctoral theses signed
Story by Ashlee Larrison
CUU Information Office
Ten years ago, the College of Doctoral Studies at Grand Canyon University celebrated its first signed thesis.
The recipient of this signature, Senior Doctoral Adjunct Faculty Supervisor Dr Nicholas Markette, remembers it like it was yesterday.
The former CFO of a tech company had no plans to pursue a full-time career in academia, but after writing and teaching his first course for the doctoral college, his career path changed.
âIt’s such a joyful job that I was ready to quit business and do it,â he said. âI mean, my graduates are my friends, and it’s the best, funniest thing you can do.
âIt’s been a long road, it’s been fun. God really blessed me and GCU was part of that blessing. I am really grateful for this.
Little did he know that the joy he found in his work with the college would lead him to contribute to his most recent achievement – the signing of his 2000e thesis.
It was an email that Dr Kortney Song could never have prepared enough as she loved vacations and the beautiful tropical weather in Honolulu, Hawaii.
As president, Markette did not hesitate to share her congratulations with her new graduate. He has always prided himself on trying to be the first to notify his graduates once he learned that their theses had been signed off to complete their program. He was sure to keep that tradition alive for Song, despite Markette being on vacation in the Caribbean.
âI’m just so honored,â she said after learning about the important role her thesis played in the doctoral college in reaching the 2,000 graduate mark. “I feel very lucky to have this honor.”
The new graduate – she got her doctorate. in General Psychology with an emphasis on cognition and teaching – has had its fair share of significant life events during his five years in the program. She went from part-time to full-time as a teacher at Estrella Mountain Community College, divorced and moved.
âThere was life all around me and trying to stay focused and engaged in my studies was a challenge most of the time,â she said. “I think that’s one of the hardest things about being a doctoral student – navigating the rest of life while having that important task on your plate.”
As the mother of a daughter, Colleen, Song often found it difficult to balance her responsibilities without feeling guilty when devoting time to one responsibility over others. But now that she has come to the end of her program, she hopes that her perseverance will serve as an example for her daughter.
âI said this all the time I was in the show, that the only person whose opinion mattered and the only person I wanted to be proud of was her,â Song said. “I can only hope that I have shown strength and courage during the rather difficult times that we have been through.”
But she couldn’t do it alone.
Throughout her moments of doubt, Song thanks Markette for helping her stay motivated. It was an experience that was just as meaningful to him as well.
âWe have been working together almost continuously for two years,â he said. âYou can’t help but, after all these hours, get closer to someone. “
Having made the transition from the first doctoral graduate to the 2000 chaire With a doctorate, working with Song was a âback to normalâ moment for him.
It’s a similar sentiment that rings true for college as well.
Over the past 10 years, the College of Doctoral Studies has grown steadily, reaching new milestones at an impressive rate. Since its first graduate in 2011, the college would celebrate 100 graduates in 2014, 500 in 2017 and 1,000 in 2019.
It is an accomplishment that the dean of the college, Dr Michael Berger, says this can be attributed to the dedicated faculty and staff, the fantastic student service advisors, and the learner-centered models and resources in place to guide learners through the process.
It has been a long road, but one that Berger loved to see continue to thrive.
âIt has been huge watching the changes,â he said. âJust seeing the college go from eight graduates in 2011 and, humbly, close to 500 in 2021 is huge. “
But for Berger, it’s not about graduates graduating after their program is over, it’s about how they use it to improve themselves and the world around them.
âDoctoral degrees change lives,â said Berger. âGoing through it changes your life, getting it changes your life, it changes the way you think, it changes the opportunities available to you, and it’s a lot of lives that have been impacted by the Grand Canyon. “
Obtaining the signature of the latter dean is as significant an accomplishment as the pen Berger uses to sign almost every thesis. It is the same pen he received from his father after being appointed Dean of the College of Doctoral Studies in 2014.
âIt really represents pride in having accomplished. â¦ This is why I am using it to sign all these theses because these people should really be proud of this accomplishment that they have achieved, âhe said.
With so many new milestones taken each year, Berger’s goal for the next year is simple.
âI want to have so many theses by 2022 that the pen is running out of ink,â he said with a smile.
Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [emailÂ protected].
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