This blog article is based on the College Talks & More podcast brought to you by Mybookcart.com. Co-hosts Hanna and Cari interviewed Brycial Williams, who offers valuable college tips and insight on pursuing a doctorate degree in early childhood education. He started out by giving a brief overview of himself:
My name is Brycial. I am an educator and I was born and raised in Wynne, Arkansas, which is a very small city. I graduated here as a former state champion with the football team. All my life I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. It’s been my ultimate goal since when I was a kid to now. I went and got my associate’s degree from East Arkansas Community College for early childhood education. After that I went onto Arkansas State University in Jonesboro to pursue my bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies, where I focus on English psychology and education. Then I got a masters and a specialist from there in education. I’m currently working on my doctorate and as you can see I’m very passionate about early childhood.
What made you decide to get a doctorate in early childhood education?
I love early childhood education and I love learning. I find it rewarding to learn more about something and my future goal is to become an administrator, even at the district level. That’s why I wanted to pursue a doctorate degree. Also, I have all the other degrees so I wanted to go ahead and get the last one, which is a doctorate.
How do you balance being a student and a teacher at the same time?
When I first started, it was hard but I’m a planner type of person. I’ve never been a person who always wrote things down and planned but when I got older, I decided to write things down, schedule, and even color code items. As a teacher, I’ve learned to be an organized planner.
While you’re getting your doctorate degree, do you take classes on or off campus?
The classes I take are strictly online.
How has Covid-19 affected your studies and being a teacher?
The journey to getting my doctorate degree has had more of a flow to it then when I got my other degrees. That’s the reason why I decided to go ahead and pursue this degree. Even though we had to do virtual teaching, the pandemic has allowed me more time to study, read, and work.
It sounds like you’re juggling a few things at once, so what do you do when you are frustrated and stressed?
I usually put on some soft music. Also, I’m a Christian and I’m big on scriptures. Music calms me and sometimes I put music on in my classroom when the students and I have bad days so we can relax.
If you are struggling with your studies, where can you find help?
I have a lot of books from my undergrad and graduate schools that I refer to. I have several colleagues that I’m close to who’ve already pursued their doctorate or anything else I might have a question about. I can go to them and they’ve been very helpful, as well as encouraging while I’m on this journey.
What is involved in completing your doctorate in early childhood education?
For the university that I’m attending, you have to have a masters degree, which I have, and a 3.0 GPA.
Do you need to write a thesis?
I will need to do a dissertation, but not a thesis.
What is your plan after you complete your college degree: continue teaching, do something new, etc.?
I’m not ready to leave the classroom yet but I do have a plan mapped out. As a future administrator, I’ve always told myself to be efficient and give my teachers the support they need. In order to do this, I need to have exposure in multiple grades. I’ve taught pre-K for 4 years and kindergarten for 4 years. I’m currently teaching 1st grade and hopefully in the next year or two, I will move to 2nd grade and get some experience there. When the time is right, hopefully I can say that I’m efficient and able to help my teachers because I’ve taught multiple grades and I know what it takes to work in the classroom.
How are you paying for your doctorate degree?
In my undergraduate years, I paid using loans. I’ve applied for two scholarships and that’s how I’m going to pay for the university that I am attending. There is a scholarship that will pay for everything so I will pay for my education through scholarships.
Do you have an academic advisor?
Yes and she has been wonderful. She has been with me every step of the way, which is very important.
How hard was it to get into a doctoral program for early childhood education? Were you nervous you wouldn’t get accepted?
I was nervous because in the past I’ve been a skeptical person due to bullying in school. I’ve always had a mindset that I wasn’t good enough. Even as an adult, I wonder if I’m good enough and if it’s worth it. I was nervous but it really wasn’t hard at all. As soon as I reached out to the university, they immediately reached out to me and they have been there every step of the way. The encouragement and the support has led me to believe that I can do this.
Did North Central University have any requirements you needed to meet before entering the program?
I had to have my masters degree in early childhood education and a 3.0 GPA. I already had a masters degree in early childhood education so it worked out well for me.
What other tips do you have for someone looking to get their doctoral degree in education?
I joined a doctoral group on Facebook. I learned from the group to write down your goals, what you see yourself doing, and why you want to pursue that degree. I’m very passionate about early childhood and that is something that I wanted to follow through with. It’s important to map out and write down what you see yourself doing in the next 5 years. Figure out if you want to be in or outside the classroom or at the college level and then find out what interests you. My interest is early childhood education but don’t just choose something if it’s quick. Find what interests you as far as education goes and figure out what you see yourself doing with the degrees you want.
Do you have any free time and if so what do you do?
I have some friends that I do hang out with from time to time. Covid has limited our gatherings but my family and I are very close so we do get together from time to time. I have a friend that I talk to and she and I communicate and lift each other up. I like to read so I do a lot of reading, too.
How was your undergrad life different from now?
My undergraduate years were more challenging because I’ve always been in my hometown so when I went off to school, it was new and I had to get used to the environment. It was a difficult transition from high school to college and it was scary at times. I even thought about quitting because it was so overwhelming but I made some friends who were really supportive and helped me get through that tough time. Now, I’m much bolder and it’s cool to look at where I came from to where I am now. It’s been a journey that I will never forget.
What other advice can you give for students starting college?
If there is something that you want to pursue, do it. Don’t be afraid. Don’t let anyone stop you. One thing I’ve learned is to move in silence. There are people who won’t support you so move in silence and pursue your dreams. Write down your dreams. I did a vision board and everyday I look at it. When I’ve mastered something, I cross it out but don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. I was really afraid but now I’m not. If there is something that you want to do, try it. I never thought I would like pursuing a doctorate degree. Pursue your dreams and know that you can do anything.
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