Alumni Reflection: Valjean Scott, Master of Education

Interview between Carlie Houchins, director of student affairs and faculty services, and M.Ed. student Valjean Scott.

Carlie: Tell me about your decision to pursue a graduate degree.

Valjean: Pursuing a graduate degree was a goal since completing a Bachelor’s for a very long time; however, with life’s ebbs and flows, it took longer than anticipated.  As the world has rapidly changed, obtaining a graduate degree has helped me enhance my career and has opened the door to other potential opportunities.

Carlie: Why did you choose Northeastern?

Valjean: I had researched and researched many educational institutions and had, in fact, registered with one.  But, then I realized it would be a completely online experience.  I wasn’t ready for online exclusively.  If there was a need for on-the-ground support –options were not available.  It was important to have face-to-face and/or telephone/email access almost at a moment’s notice. There are so many online educational opportunities, however, not many with the opportunity to experience online and on-the-ground instruction. I had knowledge of the excellence of Northeastern and their approach to education from a research perspective.  When I saw them online and read through their course offerings and the MacFarland Scholarship – yes, it was hands down to choose Northeastern as my grad school choice.  Also, they are here, in the city where I live, approximately a 20 minute drive away.  There are classrooms, study spaces, and a great on-the-ground staff that greet me by my first name each and every time I walk through the door.  Northeastern provides that option and it is a wonderful opportunity to offer its students.  Northeastern also offered a mixture of both education and technology courses which is/was important.  Kind of a one-stop shop!

Carlie: Tell us about a memorable experience from a class.

Valjean: Honestly, each class has left me with a memorable experience as they pulled out all the stops to deliver real-life content and enhanced our knowledge base far beyond using the book.  Each professor was knowledgeable and openly delivered content that aligned with both current and future trends in education and the technology within education.  Professor Elizabeth Mahler is just a gem!  There was one on-the-ground professor, Lynda Beltz, who went above and beyond.  You see, we were to order a magazine subscription – at a specific educational cost to use as a resource for our class.  For some reason, the company charged me a higher cost than was promoted on their website.  When I shared the experience, she actually phoned and emailed the magazine company and requested that the difference be refunded to me as one of her students (as soon as possible).  Wow, who does that these days?  My gratitude was extended then and continues to be extended to her.  After our course ended, she sent an email and inquired as to how my studies were going, encouraged me, gave me kudos for doing such a great job, and has offered to provide a reference at any time.  We contact each other from time to time to get an update on where we are, what we’re doing, and how we’re doing.

Carlie: What is something unexpected…and good – that happened to you during your time as a Northeastern University graduate student?

Valjean: Sooooo many things were unexpected and good during my time as a graduate student.  Let’s see: pronouncing my first name correctly, an invitation to appear in a taped commercial, great food, networking, going the extra mile to assist with scheduling, course selections, tickets to community events, sitting at the table with Dr. Cheryl Richards at an event, opportunity to participate in career management seminars (online and on the ground), walking twice for graduation (Boston and Charlotte) and a host of others.  Each call is greeted pleasantly and, an enthusiastic willingness to help is always offered.  One specific unexpected event was when Carlie Houchins sat down with me and offered to “get me through the course” in time to meet the State requirements before proposed changes went into effect.  I cannot express how it touched me in words – to experience a genuine level of care and concern for my professional well-being is just priceless!  Thank you, Thank you, and Thank you.

Carlie: What has earning your degree resulted for you?

Valjean: A sense of confidence beyond my own expectations, members of alumni unlike any I’ve heard of, inspiring those around me (teenagers, young adults, more seasoned adults, colleagues), new friends and acquaintances, continuous access to resources and information, a lifetime webmail address, what’s happening updates and invites, and yes, program completion in 1.5 years. Obtaining the graduate degree has helped me out tremendously both professionally and personally.  Thank you so much!

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