Carol Collum – DiversityJobs Scholarship Finalist for April 2012’s scholarship program for diversity and minority students is proud to announce Carol Collum  as one of the three finalists for its April deadline application. Vote for her essay by clicking the thumbs up button at the bottom of the page, and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.

Carol Collum’s Essay:

How did you choose your major? What obstacles have you had to overcome and what will it mean to you to graduate with this degree?

In 2011, I entered the doctoral program in educational leadership with the goal of expanding my professional journey to include a path in higher education.  The pursuit of an Ed.D. provides me the opportunity to become well-grounded and well-versed in research and theory in the foundations of education; all with the hope of one day imparting the knowledge and expertise that I have gleaned into the next generation of rising scholars. 

I began a career in the field of education in 2003.  Since that time, I have provided supportive social work services to at-risk youth on the elementary and middle school levels in traditional and alternative educational settings in Chicago, Maywood, Bellwood, and Des Plaines, Illinois. I have facilitated a variety of community initiatives to bridge schools with social service agencies to at-risk youth and their families.  I have been instrumental in developing and devising research-based intervention and modification strategies to assist at-risk youth in becoming academically and behaviorally successful in school.  Furthermore, I have gleaned invaluable expertise from colleagues, mentors, and faculty which has nurtured and enhanced my knowledge base, skills sets, and support systems.  

In 2009 while working as a school social worker, I was affected by a reduction in workforce.  Three years later, I still had not been successful in regaining employment in an educational institution.  It is because of this experience that I decided to return to graduate school to further my education and expand my knowledge base to make myself more marketable in the shrinking job market.  I desired to be set apart and further established as an exceptional educational leader of the 21st century. 

My educational philosophy has evolved over the years to incorporate the need to advocate for adequate supportive services within educational institutions.  Based on my years of service as a school social worker, I also believe educators should provide service to at-risk youth whereby we adhere to ethical standards.  It is our duty to focus on the needs of the student and to assist them in removing the barriers and overcoming the obstacles that are prohibiting students from being successful in school.  

Furthermore, I believe educators possess the professional expertise to turn any challenging situation for at-risk youth into a promising situation.  This can be accomplished if we keep our focus on the needs of the student being serviced and not on the problematic behaviors they exhibit.  At-risk youth are dealing with more pressure now than ever before and we have an obligation to assist them in adjusting.  I believe a holistic approach with a full continuum of wrap around services entail the critical elements necessary for at-risk youth to evolve into productive citizens.  

I hope to be awarded the scholarship to fulfill all of the requirements for the Ed.D. Program without any interruptions or additional distractions associated with financial burdens.  The scholarship will allow me to remain focused on imparting the knowledge and expertise that I have gleaned into the next generation of rising scholars.  I also look forward to becoming a resource to the initiative.  Specifically, I will share how I actively negotiate with viable service providers to determine ways to better serve at-risk youth.  In doing so, I will bring a voice of diversity to educational institutions that reflects African-American insight and culture, and a voice of advocacy for at-risk youth that commits to upholding their best interest.