When it comes to speech communication and language arts, Dr. Sherry Dean is an innovative educator. Dean earned masters’ degrees in French, speech communication, and ESOL from the University of Texas at Arlington and a doctorate in education from the University of Texas at Austin. She has served as executive dean, School of Humanities, Fine and Performing Arts, and currently teaches speech communication at Dallas County Community College District’s Richland College.

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Sherry Dean)

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Sherry Dean)

Why did you pursue a master’s degree?

“I completed my first master’s degree because it was the base requirement for my employment as a language arts professor.  I completed a second master’s degree so that I could extend my teaching skills to a second content area. I completed a Ph.D. in higher education administration leadership because I wanted to upgrade my knowledge and skills base and gain management/administration experience.”

What would you tell someone who is considering returning to school to earn a master’s degree?   

“The ‘shelf life’ of a typical college degree is limited in today’s knowledge-based economy. To remain current and competitive within one’s field, one must continually retrain and re-tool. A master’s degree allows one to develop niche expertise and skills. This next step in higher education attainment is worth the investment both personally and financially.  ”

What was the biggest challenge you faced when pursuing your advanced degrees?

“The biggest challenges were time management, and getting enough sleep. I completed a rigorous Ph.D. program in 27 months. I worked full-time during the final 12 months of that time period. I learned how to prioritize my daily activities – my studies and my work – while keeping my family as top priority. ”

What was the biggest reward for earning your master’s and Ph.D. degrees?

“I developed the expertise and flexibility to do more.  Now, I have a larger impact on the lives of my students due to my training and study. I also make a greater contribution to my workplace, not just as an effective educator but, as a skilled administrative leader. I am making a difference in my community, which for me extends across national borders.”

Robin D. Everson is a native Chicagoan who resides in Dallas, Texas. Her appreciation for art, food, wine, people and places has helped her become a well-respected journalist. A life-long lover of education, Robin seeks to learn and enlighten others about culture. You can find her work at Examiner.com