The Road to a P.h.D.

Statement of Purpose submitted to The Ohio State University

It was a simple conversation, where a 4-H member was asking for guidance in making one of the biggest decisions of her life. She was fearful and was allowing the barriers of financial burdens and distance from family stand between her and the next chapter of her life. Throughout our discussion, it was clear to me that she made up her mind, but she was looking for confirmation and reassurance. “Whatever it is, you’ll figure it out. But, I think you’ve made up your mind,” I told her.

Two years later, on a Saturday afternoon, while working a 4-H STEM event, I received a video clip from the same 4-H member who confided in me enough to help her with such a pivotal decision. As I listened to her college scholarship acceptance speech, she mentioned our conversation and listed me as one of the influential people who helped her make it to the University of Kentucky.

Much of my job is to inspire and advocate for my 4-H members and the youth within the community. I want them to set goals, overcome the barriers they face and find a way to “make it happen.” Yet, I’ve found myself contemplating the thought of starting my doctoral work, with a full-time job and a family. Those two responsibilities did not stop me from obtaining my master’s degree several years ago. So what is stopping me now?

Confidence. The confidence to still be actively present for my family and support a strong 4-H program, all while pursuing a personal goal. But, something I am very confident about is knowing I have a passion for teaching and technology.

As a 4-H educator, I have transitioned the Marion County 4-H program to the 21st century by utilizing tools, such as social media, electronic newsletters, smartphone applications and email. I have also incorporated lessons and programs focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Identifying crucial change agents have helped with the success of the transition and there is still more to do!

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014), employment in occupations related to STEM is projected to grow more than 9 million by 2022; so it is almost impossible for 4-H educators to avoid the ever-growing increase in STEM disciplines. With an emphasis on technology in education, it would align with Ohio State University Extension’s impact areas related to thriving across the life span and workforce development.

When I think about continuing my education, I want to focus my studies on incorporating technology into the 4-H program beyond the simple applications of communication. I want to study the implications of technology in recruitment and retention of the youth development program, volunteer development and curriculum development in areas of STEM, agriculture and leadership.

After earning my bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications from The Ohio State University, I had the opportunity to receive my master’s degree in agricultural education from Oklahoma State University, utilizing the Ag*Idea consortium option. I gained a greater appreciation for other land grant universities through my studies. However, I would love the opportunity to “come home” to finish my academic career at The Ohio State University and it would be an honor to pursue my Ph.D. in Agricultural and Extension Education. In addition to my own diverse scholarly background, academic achievements and professional experience, I believe am an ideal candidate to become a doctoral student in the Department of Agricultural, Communication, Education, and Leadership.

Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2014). STEM 101: Intro to tomorrow’s jobs. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Nov. 2018].


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