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Take 5: A Moment with NCU Alumni, Dr. Tricia McPheron

 NCU alumni, Dr. Tricia McPheron, in graduate regalia

Dr. Tricia McPheron, a 2019 NCU graduate who earned her Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership celebrates her 20th year in education. As the principal of Coopersville Middle School, Dr. McPheron taught for 14 years and served an additional five years as a Middle School Dean of Students/Assistant Principal in a local school district.

Dr. McPheron shares her NCU experience, the best lesson she learned as an online student, and her advice to prospective NCU students. 

What was your NCU experience? 

My NCU experience was fantastic from start to finish! I transferred from Concordia and my admissions adviser was extremely helpful. From there, every professor that I encountered challenged my thinking, promoted research, and held me to high standards. My dissertation chair was instrumental in my success, and with her help, the support of my dissertation team and advisers, I was able to complete my doctoral degree as efficiently and effectively as possible!

What is the best lesson you learned as an online student at NCU?

As an online student you have to be self-motivated, self-directed, and focused. I learned quickly that I needed to become excellent at time management, especially attending school as a full time educator and mother of two young boys. Planning and preparation, coupled with familial support ensured my success at NCU!

What advice do you have for prospective students interested in enrolling in your same program at NCU? 

Pace yourself and have a plan! Know your end goal, create a timeline for completion, and strive to stick with it. This is a marathon, not a must train with the focus of endurance. On top of that, have fun and enjoy the moments along the way, because this is merely a moment in time!

Tell us about your dissertation.

My dissertation is on the relationship between administrative leadership and the influence that it has on the professional learning environment as well as the school's climate. Before I analyzed the archived data collected for my study, I believed that people are a priority and that relationships matter. My research proved that my beliefs were grounded. In my profession as a teacher and an administrator, I have watched many colleagues thrive in an environment that challenged their thinking while providing support. I have also witnessed teachers that deteriorate when the administrator does not support them or assist them in improving their pedagogical practices. My dissertation solidified for me that as an administrator my priority lies in my people, and that in order for my staff to succeed they must be supported, included, and challenged. 

Who is your biggest source of inspiration and why?  

It is incredibly difficult to identify a single individual that was my biggest source of inspiration, because I was blessed to have so many! My husband was encouraging and supportive throughout the entire process. He would talk me through the moments that I cried and stated that I was done or that I was going to quit. He was also there as I talked through my research and discoveries and pretended to be extremely interested. He was a constant and a pillar in my life that simply said, "You got this!" My mother was another pivotal figure in my success. I remembered her obtaining her EdD in 1991 while I was in high school, and while the process is different today, her content expertise, level of understanding, and drive helped me achieve this level. She made me feel worthy of the title "Dr." My sons would hug me daily, and sit by me every weekend and weekday night as I researched and prepared papers. I missed out on some of their activities and postponed some vacations, but they did not complain too often....they just hugged me and said that they loved me! My brother and father rooted for me frequently! My friends, colleagues, and extended family consistently offered support and well wishes which I also found inspiring. I am a blessed individual because of the people that surround me!