How an EdD in Kinesiology student juggled coursework, newborn twins, and teaching online
Dr. Amanda Durall never imagined that she would complete her doctorate in the backseat of her minivan in the middle of a pandemic.
“My dissertation year was a crazy experience, to say the least,” said Durall, who was teaching at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga at the time.
She had twin girls in January 2020 and finished her dissertation for the online Doctor of Education in Kinesiology while on bedrest and in between countless trips to the neonatal intensive care unit. When they arrived home in February, Durall prepared to defend her dissertation while caring for the two newborns.
On the day of her defense, Durall was nervous and sleep-deprived. The World Health Organization had recently declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, many states had issued stay-at-home orders, and the UNC Greensboro community was adjusting to online instruction.
For Durall, the challenge was finding a quiet place to defend her dissertation.
“Everyone got a good laugh out of my ‘office,’ which was the backseat of my minivan,” she explains.
Despite these stressors, Durall and her committee remained in good spirits throughout her virtual presentation, “The Effects of an Experiential Adapted Fitness Course on Students’ Attitudes Toward Adults with Intellectual Disabilities.”
Supporting Online Students
The 16 candidates who defended their dissertations in Spring 2020 received detailed information and instructions prior to their virtual defense. Presentations were held using WebEx and Zoom and lasted about an hour, including the topic defense, a Q&A, committee discussion, and presenter discussion.
“It really was a way for students to finish as planned,” says Dr. Pam Brown, professor and director of the EdD in Kinesiology program. “And find some normalcy in the current crazy world.”
A Flexible Graduate Program
The online EdD in Kinesiology is the first program of its kind in the United States. Durall says that the strong reputation of UNCG’s face-to-face programs gave her the confidence to enroll in the online program. She was not disappointed.
“Every part of completing your degree and navigating your life – down to the logistics and time management – prepares you well for your future,” she says. “I am thankful to have found the online EdD in Kinesiology at UNCG. It allowed me to earn a degree, with the help of supportive colleagues and faculty, without having to give up my job or put my hopes of growing a family on hold.”
Achieving Her Goals
Today, Durall is an instructor in the Department of Health Science at California Baptist University. Her position is fully online, which she says is a perfect fit for her.
“The completion of a fully online doctoral program was a great experience that absolutely prepared me for a remote position,” she says. “I completed my degree on my original timeline and was able to defend my dissertation with my cohort. While it certainly wasn’t easy, I think it’s a perfect example to show current and prospective students that you can achieve your personal and professional goals at the same time.”
Story by Elizabeth L. Harrison, Communications and Marketing Specialist for the School of Health and Human Sciences