Lara Ashmore is the principal of Inspire Brilliance, a company that provides consulting services for technology, strategic planning, project optimization, grant management, higher education and non-profit organizations as well as an assistant director at The Center for Brain Health. She earned her master’s degree in Educational Technology, Human Computer Interaction, User Interface Design and Virtual Reality and a doctorate degree in Multiple Intelligences, Internet Usability and Instructional Design both from the University of Virginia.

(Photo Courtesy of Lara Ashmore)

(Photo Courtesy of Lara Ashmore)

Why did you pursue a master’s degree?

“I was undecided on a career path and I loved my college experience and wanted to extend my time in the university environment learning new things. I went directly to graduate school after college for something totally unrelated to what I do today. It wasn’t until I was half way through my master’s that I decided what career path I wanted to pursue and then decided to go for my doctorate.”

After your master’s degree, you decided to go for a doctorate degree. What would you tell someone who is considering returning to school to earn a doctorate degree?

“I would say go as soon as you can while you are young. The older you get, the more responsibilities you will accumulate and the harder it will be to find time to finish. Be prepared to work long days with little free time. Be sure to pick a field of study and a dissertation topic that interests you because it will become your life for a long time – in my case, that was ten years.”

What was the biggest challenge you faced when pursuing your doctorate degree?

“Being a mother with two small children, trying to finish my research and dissertation. My course work was finished before I had my first child, so that was helpful because I also moved from Virginia to Texas. But I almost did not finish my degree because it was so hard being a new mom. My dissertation advisor told me it was now or never and I was reaching my time limit for my courses to count so I decided to go for it. My husband was supportive, but had a very demanding job at the time so it was very stressful. My mother flew to Texas from Pennsylvania for a few months to watch my girls, which helped me finish.”

What was the biggest reward for earning the doctorate degree?

“The biggest reward was during my graduation from the University of Virginia. Looking out into the audience to see my two daughters, my husband and parents was a great sense of accomplishment. I am a role model for my daughters, to inspire them to pursue advanced degrees when they get older. Another big reward is having freedom and choices when it comes to a career path. Having the legitimacy, the diverse experience and skills gave me the confidence to start my own business.”

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