Jill Buettner is a full-time faculty member at the Dallas County Community College District’s (DCCCD) Richland College. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in biology. She earned a master’s degree in science from the University of Texas Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (UTSW).

(Photo Courtesy of Jill Buettner)

(Photo Courtesy of Jill Buettner)

Why did you pursue a master’s degree?

“When I started college as biology major, I was really not interested in medicine. A friend of mine was working in a lab doing undergraduate research, and she told me how to get into the program. Once I was working in the lab, I was hooked. A master’s degree is a requirement for doing biological research as a career.”

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

“In the field of biomedical science, it’s a tough road. I went to UT Southwestern initially pursuing a Ph.D., so some coursework is required, but there is also a lot of independent laboratory research involved. It is a full-time commitment.”

What was the biggest challenge you faced when pursuing your master’s degree?

“I began on a Ph.D. track in biomedical science. The research requirements for the degree are subjective, so it was difficult to understand the expectations.  The pedagogy of the program was not good at the time I attended; I realized that great scientists are not automatically great teachers. A faculty member told me that women do not belong in science. Having had much success as an undergraduate at Texas A&M, I felt unprepared for the atmosphere at UTSW.”

What was the biggest reward for earning the master’s degree?

“Although it may sound weird, I am thankful that my path went the way it did. I had to change direction a bit, but after I completed my thesis defense, I started working as a research fellow at UTSW and a part-time instructor at the DCCCD. I absolutely loved teaching from the very beginning, and I was able to beat out some Ph.D. applicants for a full-time position at Richland. I work to get better at teaching each year and every day is different.”

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