For my last FOCUS article of the year, I chose to interview Dr. Rachel Slaughter. Many of us may know our learning specialist as “Mrs. Slaughter,” but her recent change of title reflects the significant milestone she reached earlier this spring: completing her doctoral dissertation and receiving the hard-earned degree of Doctor of Education, Ed.D. I wanted to find out exactly how the process to get one’s doctorate works. We students should know just how much work it takes to earn a doctorate degree. Dr. Slaughter has been in the classroom for 28 years now, and a learning specialist for six years. She is finishing up her third year at FCS and said that the experience has been nothing but positive.
Dr. Slaughter informed me that, all in all, it usually takes three years to earn an educational doctorate, consisting of a two-year course load and then another year of writing and research. However, if you begin to add up the four years it takes to get a bachelor’s degree, and the three years it takes to earn a masters, and then these three years of doctoral study, the process takes ten years of commitment. A lot of people end up giving up just a few credits short of their doctorate degree or before having to write their dissertation. If you didn’t already know, I will remind you, this is a 200-page dissertation. Dr. Slaughter explained to me that, “The university isn't very supportive of people trying to get their doctorates. I rewrote the entire paper 8 times over, at least 8 times! All because the university basically told me ‘this stinks’ at the beginning. I didn’t give up, though.” This massive dissertation is all on top of a content analysis of 43 books in which she had to analyze every page of every book, which took countless hours.
I personally was astounded at just how much hard work and dedication was needed to follow through with this whole process. Curious, I asked exactly why Dr. Slaughter chose to stick through it all, and she revealed, “I decided to keep going forward for fear of embarrassment, but mainly because I had already gotten so far that giving up didn’t really seem like an option.”
Before I departed, I decided to ask one final question: “What would you like to say to students who may want to go on to advanced education beyond their bachelor’s?” Dr. Slaughter immediately brought up a pretty strong message for the future 11th graders out there. Although she laughs when students complain about the 11th grade research paper, she is full of compassion and wisdom for future students: “If you can get through the 10-page paper with a good demeanor, you can write the [doctoral] dissertation no problem. If you love your topic, the work doesn’t feel like work at all.” That last sentence really speaks to me. It’s extremely inspiring that someone can have so much passion for a topic that, even though she was forced to write hundreds of pages, she pulled through it all, practically with a smile on her face. We should all learn something about hard work and dedication from Dr. Slaughter, but also that work doesn’t have to be just that, it can be fun. On behalf of FOCUS I would like to congratulate Dr. Rachel Slaughter on all of her hard work and dedication. The rest of the FCS community would also surely like to congratulate you, as this is an incredible process.