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The Road to a Doctorate: A Look Inside the EdD Mentoring and Coaching Program

May 29, 2024

Starting a new degree program can seem overwhelming, especially an advanced degree like a doctorate in education. While the School of Education has faculty and staff to support students, sometimes students can benefit from someone who has been in their shoes. That is where the EdD Mentoring and Coaching program comes in. support to their students, helping them to navigate coursework and balancing school and life’s responsibilities as they work toward their doctorate in education. Since these MACs have been through the EdD program, they can give personalized advice and guidance that has proven to be beneficial.

Natasha Brown, EdD ‘14 is an accomplished mentor in Drexel’s EdD MAC program. She started mentoring students in the spring of 2023 and finds the experience to be rewarding. Dr. Brown is a director, professor, and consultant with 20 years of experience in education, higher education, human resource development, organizational development and leadership, behavior health and healthcare administration. Currently, she is a director of staff development for the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Human Resources. She also teaches master level students at Pierce College’s organizational leadership and management program, and doctoral level students at Rowan University in educational leadership and management.

When looking for schools to earn her doctorate, Dr. Brown says Drexel really stood out to her, “I like Drexel because they had the concentration for human resource development and it aligns with organizational development and leadership,” which is what she is passionate about. Dr. Brown thoroughly enjoyed her time working toward her doctorate at Drexel, which is why she did not hesitate to return as a mentor for the EdD program. She says, “I just loved it. I loved the teachers and Dr. Hill, who's the program director now, was my dissertation chair… [we] always stayed in touch since then, and so when the opportunity came up to be a MAC, I said I'm all for whatever I could do to give back to Drexel and to help develop the next generation of educational leaders!”

For Dr. Brown, it is important that she relays the advice she learned while going through the program herself to the students that she mentors. When mentoring a student, she is sure to tell them “How important it is to develop your research skills, how important it is to develop your writing skills, how important it is to develop your effective communication and presentation skills, and also your organizational skills in itself”. She also says, “I let them know first it is important to master your time management, understand stratgeic project management, and maintain your work/life balance and wellness”.

Much of Dr. Brown’s philosophy is supplementing what the students learn and receive in the classroom. Her goal is to be someone that her mentees can go to when they have a question that is best answered through one-on-one time. She sets up multiple lines of communication with her mentees, giving them the option of facetime, phone calls, emails, and text messages, and lets them choose a time to meet that best works for them. Dr. Brown acknowledges the fact that the EdD students have lives outside of the classroom and wants them to know that she will be there whenever they need her. She says, “I'm always available and flexible. If you need to send me a text message, ask me a question, or whatever you need, I'm always there”, she wants her mentees to know that this program is tailored to them and that her support is always there. She wants to see the students succeed and achieve the ultimate goal of becoming a doctor!

Deborah Miller is currently a student in Drexel’s EdD program, and upon starting her first year in the program she got matched with Dr. Brown as her mentor. Miller didn’t know about the mentorship program prior to embarking on the road to her doctorate, but she says that it has been a great resource that she is very thankful for. Miller agrees with Dr. Brown regarding the importance of time management, “I would say the biggest takeaway is just like time management… not letting time get away from you.” This advice has been very helpful to Miller because “I work a full-time job, and just kind of like balancing everything, it's probably going to be my number one struggle”.

Miller appreciates the mentorship program not only because the one-on-one time clears up any questions and confusion she may have regarding her coursework, but because having the connection with Dr. Brown has been very beneficial. She says, “it’s almost as if I knew her already… we have a lot in common… we have similar goals”. Miller takes part in the EdD program virtually, so it is nice for her to have a face and connection to Drexel.

Drexel’s EdD program excels because of its amazing and supportive staff and professors, but the addition of the mentorship program for first-year students has made a world of a difference. There are many times that advocating for yourself or asking questions in front of a full class can be very intimidating, but having a close, one-on-one relationship with someone that has once been in your shoes can truly change the game. Through personalized meeting times, tailored advice, and finding a companion in someone who went through the program themselves, Drexel’s EdD Mentoring and Coaching program is bettering students’ lives.