Roadrunners on the Move: Meet Our Alum, Dave Ferreira

Dave Ferreira photo

In this blog series, we talk to NCU alumni who are improving the human condition and making change for themselves, their families, and their communities.

Dr. Dave Ferreira received his Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership from NCU in 2017. Today he works in academia and in April was hired as provost and vice president of academic affairs of Charter Oak State College, Connecticut’s public online college.

What does earning your graduate degree mean to you?

As the son of someone who immigrated to this country when he was 10, a first-generation college student, and the first member of my extended family to earn a doctorate, it meant that with hard work and GRIT, there is nothing that you cannot accomplish in this country.  

What inspired you to go back to school?

Higher education naturally looks at terminal degree attainment when apply for jobs. I knew that I would most likely reach a ceiling in my career without my Ed.D.

Tell us more about what you are working on right now.

Over the past 3+ years, I have been a dean of Academic and Student Affairs at Northwestern Connecticut Community College. I have been working hard to make sure we provide holistic student supports, such as access to technology, food, clothing, and mental health so students can succeed in the classroom and reduce equity gaps. At Charter Oak State College, I will pivot to supporting our adult learners as they obtain relevant workforce bachelor's and master's degrees to create better opportunities for themselves and their families. I also volunteer as co-chair of the Northwestern Connecticut Re-entry Council to give resources and opportunities to those coming back into our communities from prison to reduce recidivism rates.  

What challenges have you overcome to get where you are? Do you have a life lesson you’d like to share?

I think the biggest challenge while attending NCU was working full-time, raising a family, and working on the dissertation. It was a lot! The lesson I would share is to keep at it and make sure you have the right support system, such as your dissertation chair, to support you through the process. You are not alone in this endeavor.

Do you have any tips for our students also aiming to work in higher education?

I would say that the most important thing is passion. Anyone can learn teaching skills, but the great professors hold high standards while also understanding life issues with their students. They look at them as individuals and truly care about their success. When you interview for a teaching job, focus more about the passion for the students at that college or university. Passion and commitment makes for an exceptional professor.

Any last words about your experience with NCU?

The format of the courses is a great model for doctoral education. The one-on-one mentor approach is very impactful as it helps contextualize the work you are doing to your career.