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From dropout to doctorate – the Elizabeth Carroll story


Student: Elizabeth Carroll

NCU Degree Program: EDD: Doctor of Education, Curriculum, and Teaching

Current Name of Employer: Florida Gateway College

Title: Assistant Professor

Where you’re from doesn’t matter, it’s where you’re going that counts. Sometimes, however, it takes a little outside encouragement and help to see your own potential. This is sentiment behind Elizabeth Carroll’s story, a high school dropout that not only turned it all around, but now dedicates her life to helping others get and stay on track.

In the selection below, Elizabeth describes how receiving a scholarship from NCU gave her the boost she needed to fulfill her life’s calling:

“I am a dropout. Those were the first words in an essay that would forever change the course of my life. The essay submission was for a full-tuition scholarship opportunity at Northcentral University to pursue my doctorate. I am a high school dropout, who earned a GED and began my educational journey a little later than others. I did not expect to receive a scholarship, or that my essay would even be considered; however, not long after submitting my essay to NCU I received a phone call, and the kind voice of Dr. Melanie Shaw congratulated me on receiving a full tuition Bright Futures scholarship. After hanging up the phone, I wept with happiness.

I received my scholarship almost two years ago and began my journey toward a doctorate in Curriculum and Teaching at NCU. Receiving this scholarship allowed me an opportunity to pursue a long-held dream and a distinct change began to take place once I started my program. The change wasn’t outwardly, of course, although I am pretty sure a few more wrinkles are apparent! My journey has affected my goals, my ambitions, my teaching practices, and even my outlook on life. I didn’t truly realize or appreciate what I could achieve until I began my doctorate program. My goals and ambitions were never higher than what I knew I could accomplish; now I continually push myself and ask why not or what if.

I currently teach teacher preparation at a community college in North Florida, and I consistently use data, information, and articles I discover while writing and researching my own papers. I’m decidedly more positive, am developing a growth mindset, and acquiring a patience I never knew existed with myself and with others. To give back a small portion of what has been given to me, last year I began mentoring an at-risk high school student in my district. When she graduates from high school, she will receive a Bright Futures scholarship of her own as part of the mentoring program.

As educators, teaching is not just a job or a career; it is a calling – a part of who we are. This mindset is something I hope I encourage in the teachers I work with, and I have witnessed this in each one of my instructors at NCU. I have gained not only knowledge but insight and clarity from the detailed feedback and comments. Dr. Julia Weinberg, Dr. Barbara Hunter, Dr. Shad Bailey, and Dr. Amy Gates have been especially helpful in their guidance and instruction, and I couldn’t ask for a better advisor than Laura Baldwin who patiently answers all of my many questions!

I am always advocating for and recommending NCU to others. From the beginning, everyone I have spoken with at NCU is helpful, considerate, and kind, which is always appreciated. I have a supportive group of family and friends who encourage me to persevere, through those times when I feel like I am not good enough, strong enough, or smart enough to continue. I am currently working toward completing my comprehensive doctoral assessment, and while the journey is challenging, I know the reward is well worth the effort.”