Ed.D. Student Success Stories

Hear success stories from our Ed.D. students of past and present. Learn why they decided to earn their Ed.D. with UNE Online and their thoughts on the program.


Dianna Montfort Ed.D.

Dianna Montfort

Dianna Montfort, Ed.D. is a graduate of the UNE Doctor of Education program and was a presenter at last year’s inaugural CGPS Virtual Research and Scholarship Symposium. Here, she talks about her experience in the Ed.D. program as well as what it was like presenting at CGPS’s first Symposium in 2019.

“Originally from Indianapolis, I attended Indiana State University where I received both my bachelor’s as well as my master’s degrees. During that time I was your traditional student, not entirely sure of my direction, except that I always knew I wanted to get a doctorate degree. After much exploration of my options and a few years of career experience in the field of higher education, I knew I wanted to get an Ed.D.”

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Bonnie Blake EdD Alumna

Bonnie Blake

Bonnie was an educator at New York University for more than twenty-five years and wanted to earn a doctorate that would increase her knowledge about helping students in higher ed while simultaneously learning from her student colleagues. After completing her dissertation on “Transforming Disability to Advantage: A Phenomenological Study of Career Success for Dyslexics,” she’s now in the process of assembling an educational industry panel in New York to raise awareness of dyslexia.

“We were all remote, but all very comfortable speaking with one another – whether it was a video call or a phone call – and the colleagues I worked with were located all around the world. We had one person in China, and another one was in Grenada working for a veterinary program. At graduation, those of us who were able to make it to the ceremony immediately gravitated to one another and drew together in a little circle. We may have never met in person, but it didn’t feel that way at all…I think that in many ways it was more engaging than some classroom environments that I have seen.”

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Jeffrey Brown, Chief Information Officer, Martin's Point Healthcare, Ed.D. in Transformative Leadership candidate at UNE Online

Jeffrey L. Brown

Jeffrey is currently in his third executive officer role as the Chief Information Officer for Martin’s Point Healthcare. When he felt that he’d reached a growth plateau, he took a year to research before choosing UNE’s Ed.D. to combine leadership skill acquisition, applied science, and applied research.

“The way each class builds on the next within the program, it literally all comes back to myself as a leader in my organization. I’ve experienced rapid-cycle development, seemingly on a weekly basis. Because of this program, I feel that I’ve accelerated my leadership thinking, comfort, and capability by leaps and bounds over the last two years. I can’t say enough about it. It’s been a remarkable experience.”

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Selfie of Mike Wilber, Ed.D.

Mike Wilber

Mike is an Adult Basic Education Instructor at the Delaware Department of Education Adult and Prison Education Resources Division in Wilmington, Delaware, helping inmates earn their GEDs and learn job skills. He is also a GED Instructor in the Adult Education Division of James H. Groves Adult High School, and received the 2018 Region II Teacher Of the Year award for his diligent and compassionate work.

“I enjoy helping people recognize that they have dignity just because they exist, and nobody has the right to take that away from them. When you’re in our learning environment classroom, it’s a safe zone, and we can speak openly and respectfully about anything that we want to. That’s the way it should be. You never know when or how you’re going to touch a life, but you know for sure that you’re going to. It’s not only about being a teacher, it’s about humbling yourself so that others can rise above.”

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Kylie Bragdon Ed.D. student

Kylie Bragdon

A native of both the seemingly-opposing worlds of academia and lobstering, Kylie recently joined the Maine Ocean School as Executive Director and serves as chair of the board of selectman in Winter Harbor. After completing her master’s degree, she said decided to pursue the Ed.D because she wanted to facilitate change on a grander scale.

“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. 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.”

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Stephanie Brown

Stephanie Brown

Stephanie is an adjunct English as a Second Language (ESL) professor, a Fulbright Advisor, the President-Elect of the Northern New England chapter of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (NNETESOL), and the Reviews Editor for the Massachusetts Association of Teachers of Speakers of Other Languages (MATSOL). Her passion for the advancement of ESL led her to UNE’s online Ed.D.

“Due to the current state of ESL, I know that I need to do more and learn more in order to help create change. My students have been through countless hardships, many of which I couldn’t even fathom. They deserve more. My desire to be a good educator, leader, and advocate drove me to pursue a doctoral degree with a focus on educational and transformative leadership.”

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Dr. Joel Lowsky, Ed.D. Graduate

Dr. Joel Lowsky

After an eight-month volunteer stint at an HIV community center in Namibia, Africa, Joel left corporate life to embrace his newfound love of the field of education technology. He’s now responsible for planning and implementing educational technology projects that improve teaching, learning, and working at an independent high school in Massachusetts.

“I wanted to work in education, but not necessarily as a teacher. And if you’re if you’re not on the classroom side, in order to advance professionally, one needs to take a leadership route. I had been moving up in leadership roles, and I needed to take the next step. I had also started thinking about a possible dissertation subject, and I was really attracted to the idea of fleshing out the concept with my own research.”

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Dr. Vicki Rusbult, Ed.D.

Dr. Vicki Rusbult

Vicki wanted to take on structured research to provide insight into factors contributing to the transportation gap in rural Maine. She was later invited to present the findings from her dissertation at the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) National Regional Transportation Conference. She’s now participating in statewide public transportation planning groups to further spread her discoveries, and even created a partnership to expand broadband internet capacity to rural Maine communities.

“I thought the field of Education would be more heavily represented among my Ed.D. classmates, but that wasn’t the case at all. While there were a significant amount of educators as I expected, we also had many professionals from a variety of industries, representing a large spectrum of professional backgrounds.”

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