Student Spotlight: Kylie Bragdon, Ed.D. Program

Kylie Bragdon Ed.D. student is studying the effect of education on the lobster industry in MaineRecently, we spoke with UNE graduate Kylie Bragdon ’11, Ed.D. ’18 who is running for the Maine State House of Representatives in District 136 this coming November. Bragdon has an undergraduate degree in Mathematics from UNE and is currently working on her Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) here at the College of Graduate and Professional Studies. She’s studying the effect of K-12 education on the lobster industry in Maine.

Update July 23, 2019: Kylie Bragdon joined Maine Ocean School as executive director and serves as chair of the board of selectman in Winter Harbor.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, and what encouraged you to pursue your Ed.D.?

I graduated from UNE in 2011 with my B.S. in Math and a certification in Math Education for grades 7-12. After graduation, I found that I needed a little bit of a break from the academic world, so I moved home and joined my family in the lobster fishing industry.

After about a year of lobstering, I secured a position teaching high school math at Mount Desert Island (MDI) High School. During my four years there I worked on a wide array of initiatives, many of them having to do with challenging youth. I worked with the kids that had the highest truancy levels and a lot of kids with behavior plans and things of that nature. I also worked a great deal on the school’s proficiency-based learning and assessment strategies.

During that time I also earned a master’s degree in Athletic Administration. I had a lot going on – all of this was happening while I was coaching three different sports teams during six consecutive seasons, and teaching at MDI. I had the intention of pursuing employment as an athletic director, but my focus changed and I decided to get a certification to become a personal trainer instead. Once I earned that certification, I opened my own personal training business.

After completing my master’s, I decided to pursue the Ed.D because I wanted to facilitate change on a grander scale. After my first year enrolled in the Ed.D. program, I transitioned from teaching back to lobstering. Then, this past February, I began my job as the Assistant Director of Education for an organization called KidsPeace, at their Ellsworth location. It’s kind of a crazy, hectic and exciting life I live.

Download our Ed.D. Brochure

When will you complete your Ed.D.?

I am in the dissertation phase right now and working on the final pieces of my proposal so I can then follow through and execute the research. I wanted to try and speed up the process and graduate by May, but given the magnitude of the research I’m doing, I decided to stick with the University’s original timeline and graduate in August 2018.

What’s your dissertation on?

I’m trying to understand the role of K-12 education in the lobster industry in Maine. More specifically, I am trying to identify what skills current lobstermen perceive as most valuable in regards to obtaining long-term success in this industry. I am hoping that this study will provide insight on how to better educate the lobstermen of the future. It’s kind of a unique study because very little research has actually been done on this population. I am thankful for my own ties to this population because I was born and raised in Downeast Maine, in a community focused around the lobster industry. Most of the fishermen in Hancock and Washington counties know me pretty well, so I have access to the unique perspective of a very specific set of people.

I began my Ed.D. with the general intention of pursuing a topic that would allow me to help the community I love. In the initial phases of this project, I already knew a lot about the industry and the current lobstermen. What I came up against was a lack of existing research. There have been studies on the biology of lobsters, and studies around the governance system of the lobster fishing industry. I wanted to pursue a topic related to leadership or education within the lobstering industry, but I didn’t have any studies to start with. So I started with a tiny idea, and I had to go through an intense process to build out my research question and then narrow it down.

I saw in the Ellsworth American that you are planning to run for the Maine State House of Representatives in District 136 in November 2018. That’s big news!

Thanks! I’ve always had a genuine interest in preserving my community, and in all frankness, the uniqueness and the wholesomeness that I remember my community being has rapidly changed. I think it has a great deal the lack of employment opportunities and the increase in drug use. I am proud of where I come from, and because of that, I want to do anything I can do to help protect the place that I call home. Currently, I am a Selectman in the town of Winter Harbor, so I am excited to pursue change on a larger scale as a Representative.

How do you feel that having your Ed.D. will help you in that endeavor?

I’m hopeful that I will be able to have an impact on how we operate schools in this community. There are certainly more opportunities than there used to be for people entering the Maine lobster industry, but there’s often a disconnect between what’s taught in high schools and what’s actually going on in the real world. All too frequently I think we prepare kids for college, whereas that may not be necessarily the path they take. I am hopeful that my study will act as a model for making informed decisions regarding curriculum planning for people that are deciding to take alternative pathways.

Read more: What Can you Do with an Ed.D.?

Did you find there to be a sense of community at UNE Online?

Absolutely! That’s actually one of the reasons that I re-enrolled at UNE after my undergrad. I loved the school the first time, and the second time it didn’t disappoint at all! I’ve found everyone to be very collaborative, and supportive as we critique and encourage each other. My classmates have been great. We’ve spent nearly three years together at this point, and it’s exciting to really be able to see the growth within them – and also myself – as we’ve moved through this program together.

If there’s one thing you would want a potential student to know before starting in this program, what would it be?

The one thing that I wish I’d had in mind at the outset, is that you need to be flexible. You can’t go in with a specific topic or a specific idea, or timeline in your head. You have to allow yourself to open up to the educational experience because that’s the only way you’re really going to have growth.

If you are interested in the Ed.D. program at UNE Online, or if you would like more information, please reach out to an Enrollment Counselor at (800) 994-2804 or via email at You can also:

Download our Ed.D. Brochure

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