Southeastern to graduate first doctoral students
Contact: Rene Abadie
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FIRST DOCTORAL GRADUATES -- Southeastern Louisiana University education professor Jeffrey Oescher, right, conducts a seminar with the university’s first graduates in its doctoral program in educational leadership. From left, are Christel O’Quin of Clinton, Sharon Southall of Denham Springs, and Linda Saucier of Pine Grove.
HAMMOND – A new chapter in Southeastern Louisiana University’s history will be written Saturday (May 16) when three students are “hooded” and receive the university’s first doctoral degrees.
Christel O’Quin of Clinton, Linda Saucier of Pine Grove, and Sharon Southall of Denham Springs will each receive a doctorate in educational leadership (EdD) as the initial graduates of the university’s first doctoral level program offered through the College of Education and Human Development.
The program, which was approved by the Louisiana Board of Regents in spring 2006, is offered in consortium with the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. Currently 43 students are enrolled in the program at Southeastern.
“It is definite cause for celebration,” said President John L. Crain. “Southeastern has been known for years for the quality of classroom teachers we prepare. With this new program, we are now helping to groom a new generation of school and school system leaders who understand the challenges of today’s educational environment.”
“This new collaborative degree program is a prime example of how the University of Louisiana System is working to meet the workforce demands of our state, said UL System President Randy Moffett. “Not only are we producing much-needed graduates in a critical area, but we are also doing so through an efficient delivery system. Sharing faculty resources at Southeastern and UL Lafayette is intellectually stimulating for the students and cost-effective for Louisiana.”
The three candidates all enrolled in Southeastern’s program in its initial semester in fall 2006.
“This has been a lifelong desire and a personal goal for me,” said O’Quin, who is principal at Mohican Education Center, a school of overage middle school students in Baton Rouge.
Her dissertation focused on feedback from students in the instructional process, and her research – which is now part of an international study through her collaboration with three other researchers -- indicated that teachers are not using that feedback effectively.
“Perhaps if we used feedback in a better, more efficient instructional way, student achievement in Louisiana’s schools would increase,” said Q’Quin who also earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from Southeastern.
As a principal at St. Helena Central Elementary School in Greensburg, Saucier entered the doctoral program hoping to enhance her capabilities as a leader. She found Southeastern’s program to meet the specific needs of current school administrators.
“The program offers a combination of online and classroom-based courses and is designed to enable students to incorporate their real-life experiences into class assignments,” she said. “I believe it has enabled me to become a more competent administrator.”
Her area of research was on teacher efficacy in a high-poverty school. “I wanted to understand why some high-poverty schools are high performing and some are low performing,” said Saucier. “I believe teacher efficacy is one factor that determines a school’s level of performance.”
Southall, who is a senior policy advisor with the Louisiana Board of Regents, looked to the doctoral degree as a way of gaining the tools and skills necessary to perform her professional duties at the highest possible level. “I chose the Southeastern program because it was new and carefully designed to give a practitioner’s approach to research and literature review,” she said.
Her research also looked at the issue of high performing, high poverty schools. She said she wanted to “identify school leader behaviors that create the conditions for underrepresented students to become successful in a postsecondary educational environment.” The study included an analysis of data that examined successful leadership practices of principals in high performing, high poverty schools.
“I could not have advanced through the program without the support and advice of the educational leadership professors at both Southeastern and the University of Louisiana-Lafayette,” she said. “The professors offered unique skills that contributed to my endurance and success.”