I’m alive and well – albeit tired – and still functioning fairly well four semesters after my program start. Unlike most of my cohort, I didn’t have formal theology/divinity education prior to enrolling in George Fox so I started leveling classes the summer prior to the program start (summer 17). I knew from reading bios/facebook introductions and synchronous initial introductions our first week that I would have a resource of amazing colleagues within the elite 8 cohort. What I didn’t know then, that I know now, is how significant the friendships would be – how much I would enjoy both social and academic banter with each member of the group. I’ve grown to respect every member of our cohort – even through our philosophical differences – and to value challenging feedback through synchronous and asynchronous discussions. One year later I feel transformed in my friendships, learning, and capacity to function under pressure.
I have worked to absorb and apply leadership principles into my job – and it couldn’t come at a better time as our university undergoes prioritization – “Dickeson advocates distributing resources according to how strong each program is, with “strength” determined by a series of indicators that measure how a program performs in a number of different dimensions. In a nutshell: get comparable data on all programs, score the results, aggregate the scores, and make decisions accordingly. Top ones get more resources; bottom ones face cuts.” Not only did I have to analyze and defend our specific program data through a complex matrix, I was selected to be on the faculty committee which reviewed all academic program reports and recommended deep budget cuts. During the challenging meetings and difficult conversations, I kept Sam Chand’s highly acclaimed leadership book, Leadership Pain in the forefront of my mind – I’m not leading if I’m not in pain. It truly helped me lean into the pain of the difficult decisions and stand firm in how those decisions were made. I’ve since had to deal with significant human resource issues with instructors – again I kept Chand’s words in my head “your vision for the future has to be big enough to propel you to face the heartaches and struggles you’ll find along the way.” As simplistic as his premise sounds, Chand’s leadership principles are profoundly accurate.
The academic work of reading, blogging, researching, and international travel are exactly what I was hoping for in this global perspectives program. Although I may feel overwhelmed and exhausted at times, I know that God has brought me to this program for an important purpose – to grow academically, mentally, emotionally, culturally, and spiritually. The PLDP projects are encouraging my self-reflection and goal direction. Especially helpful are the use of assessment tools in evaluating self. As a mental health clinician and higher education instructor, I frequently use assessment tools on others. It’s a new experience to use them on myself. I used the Enneagram in Fall 17 semester to analyze my personality. It was helpful and insightful and the results were not what I expected. I was able to engage in beneficial evaluation and understand what drives my passion and mission…as well as compare myself with others in our cohort.
The integration of my research project from the very first semester – resilience factors in Somalian refugees resettled in Columbus, Ohio – is one of the best parts of this DMin program (and one of the reasons why I selected George Fox). I am intentional in trying to apply every blog I write on the assigned text to my research topic. Each semester project builds on the next and has kept me focused on dissertation writing – target in sight! Watching cohort 6 graduate at the end of spring semester was exciting…I was even a bit envious.
The pinnacle of the program is the international advances – travel and culture are my passion. South Africa was transformative. The learning through local leaders, apartheid discussions, day trips to communities and agencies, and talking to the locals was superb. I’m hopeful the Hong Kong advance will measure up to our first experience.
As summer semester winds down and I look towards year two, I’m excited for what is to come – further reading, writing, research, friendship and travel. I can say without a doubt that I have been positively and profoundly impacted and challenged by the Leadership and Global Perspectives program.