Alumna profile: online PhD enhances career in Higher Ed

June 4, 2018

Mindy Kole

For 15 years, Mindy Kole owned and operated a marketing and advertising firm in New York.

But she always dreamed of teaching college students. She felt she had something to share and liked the idea of helping others acquire the tools they needed to succeed in life and work. Kole imagined that someday—perhaps when her youngest child left the nest—she would move into teaching.

A surprise career move

But in 2004, Kole learned there was an opening for an adjunct faculty member at the local community college, SUNY Ulster. She had no previous teaching experience, and classes were scheduled to begin the following week. She decided to submit her resume nonetheless. Days later, she found herself on campus teaching principles of management.

“It was scary,” she recalls. “I was shaking and sweating when I walked into that classroom. But I loved it. I enjoy working with community college students because they really need that degree to be successful.”

Teaching was rewarding for Kole. But it was also challenging—and she realized that she too needed an additional degree to be successful: a PhD. “I had made a commitment to academia,” she says. “I knew that’s what I was going to do going forever forward—so I wanted the education and credentials that go along with that.”

An online PhD program

Kole’s search for a part-time doctoral program in organization and management ultimately led her to Capella. She enrolled in 2010 and immersed herself in the work, taking every second or third term off for personal reasons.

“My instructors were extremely helpful and accommodating,” Kole says. “My dissertation mentor was there for me all the time. He didn’t let me slip for a minute. If I indicated that I was having trouble or losing motivation, he’d email me with the message, ‘Time for a phone call!’ I appreciated that.”

Capella was also accommodating when Super Storm Sandy hit New York. After Kole contacted university staff to let them know that her electrical power was out, they got in touch with her professors and apprised them of the situation. Kole didn’t have to worry about getting extensions on her coursework deadlines.

In 2016, Kole received her PhD, leaving her with a sense of accomplishment and pride. Recently, she started a new position as associate dean of adult learning at SUNY Ulster.

Connecting with students

Her own experience as an adult learner—juggling career and family responsibilities, in addition to studying—has strengthened her connection with students. “I tell my students, I feel your pain,” Kole shares. “I know what it’s like to work all day, go home, have dinner, and then turn to computer coursework for the rest of the night. It’s not easy. But in the end, it’s definitely 100 percent worth it.”

Learn more about Capella’s online doctoral degree programs.

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