“Having this degree really opened doors for me”: Q&A with Denise Dempsey, MEd ’16
When you become a Concordia grad student, you’re instantly connected to a 10,000-strong alumni network that is fiercely loyal and highly influential. We recently caught up with an alum, Denise Dempsey, who earned a Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction with a concentration in Online Teaching and Learning just last year.
She’s currently an Education Consultant and Mindfulness Education Specialist with a background in meditation, yoga, and mindfulness training, so, you could say we found it very soothing to hear about her experience. Take a look!
There are so many graduate programs out there. What made you choose Concordia?
As a working professional, I needed a program that would fit with my schedule and align with the work I was already doing as a health educator—so Concordia really appealed to me. The structure seemed flexible, and because it was a year-long program, I knew for the immediate future that I could fit it in. My enrollment specialist was also extremely helpful and one of the reasons why I signed up; she helped me figure out it was a good fit for me.
You earned an MEd in C&I with a concentration in Online Teaching and Learning. What were your courses like?
There was a strong emphasis on diversity in education, how to build equity into curriculums, and an overview of the history of education. We used contemporary case studies and videos that were relatable and fun. For example, we specifically looked at inner-city Boston schools and how they emphasized character education, performance character, moral character, empathy, and integrity. Concordia really keeps their curriculum fresh—it was obvious that they weren’t using one that’s 20 years old. One last thing I’ll add about the assignments: we were expected to be impeccable with our writing, which really took my skill to a new level.
Did anything surprise you about your courses?
The readings we were assigned became my favorite part of the program, which I didn’t expect. There was a big emphasis on transformative education, specifically education theory for adult learning. Not only are these important to my professional role as an adult educator, but you never hear that talked about, even though it’s such a critical part of learning. Concordia is being very progressive in incorporating this into the curriculum. I did a lot of research on other programs, and Concordia was one of two that even talked about it.
How was your overall experience?
I got so much out of it. And I got straight A’s! Now I have a solid understanding on developing a curriculum that’s effective and can keep students motivated with course content that’s relevant to them. I learned about character education, even though I didn’t expect to. Actually, I see this as being one of Concordia’s biggest strengths. The values of the school really come through in the graduate program. When I got onboard, I really didn’t expect how much I was going to learn about C&I. Now there are questions I can ask myself that I didn’t really know were there to ask.
You flew to our campus in Portland to attend graduation. What motivated you to come here, and what was it like?
I’m a firm believer in completing something with a ritual and celebrating, so I was excited to go. When I was there, I honestly felt I might as well have graduated from the brick-and-mortar program. They didn’t treat online students differently at all. The president was there and was so personal and welcoming. I was also also able to meet people in my classes who finished around the same time as I did.
So, MEd in hand! Are you glad you did it?
Having this degree really opened doors for me. I’m an independent contractor and everyone who heard about my new degree was thrilled. I have since done some consulting for an organization trying to put their programs online, and I found I can now speak with greater confidence and have a huge amount of knowledge I can really depend on.
Do you have any advice for prospective students?
Take a good look at your schedule. Make sure you’re going to be able to dedicate whatever time your program needs, and be prepared for scholarly writing. Also, look for an online program that doesn’t feel “online only.” Concordia’s online programs are so much an extension of what their on-ground programs are. I could really feel the tradition, and felt like I was a part of something where there’s actually a legacy.