Precious Hils, of Albany, Georgia, says two factors were the difference in making her online Ed.D. in Diversity and Equity in Education (EPOL) experience a practical success: program flexibility and ease of accessibility.
What did you enjoy most about your online degree program experience at Illinois?
"The flexibility and ease of accessibility, for sure. As a working professional with several outside obligations, those two factors were especially important to me while matriculating through the online Doctor of Education degree program at UIUC."
What were you doing before your online degree program at UIUC?
"I served on active duty in the U.S. Coast Guard from 2012 - 2017. In 2017, I transitioned into the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve and moved from Houston, TX to Washington, DC to pursue my Master of Education degree at Howard University full-time. In 2019, I began working as a 2nd grade teacher in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Soon after, I became a Diversity Outreach Officer for the U.S. Coast Guard Academy."
Why did you choose your program and Education at Illinois?
"From 2017 - 2019, I pursued my Master of Education degree in Elementary Education at Howard University. Howard’s School of Education places a special emphasis on preparing educational leaders to positively influence schools and communities composed primarily of Black and other underserved populations; Over time, my research interests evolved and I wanted to further explore the inequities students of color experience not only at the elementary level, but also at the postsecondary level. I was ecstatic to learn that the Diversity & Equity in Education (DE) concentration was an option I could pursue at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. I knew right then that UIUC’s College of Education was where I wanted to enroll after reading that its aim is to help educators explore transformative approaches to issues related to diversity and equity in P-16 learning environments.
"I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoyed my time while at UIUC. The professors are truly amazing. My advisor, Dr. Denice Ward Hood, was very supportive of me as I progressed through coursework, qualifying examinations and the phases of finalizing my dissertation."
What are you doing now, and how has your online degree experience helped you?
"Currently, I am an Officer Recruiter for the U.S. Coast Guard. I feel extremely blessed to be able to do a continuation of diversity outreach for the service at Spelman College (my alma mater), Morehouse College, Clark Atlanta University, and other local Minority Serving Institutions in the Atlanta metropolitan region. My ultimate goals are to continue working in the realm of higher education in some capacity—influencing policy decisions regarding diversity and inclusion and mentoring/counseling high school students and young adults as they prepare for and matriculate through college."