College of Education, Health and Human Sciences Leadership
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J. Dean May photo Alumni Spotlight


J. Dean May

Full Professor; Head, Department of Social Work; Western Kentucky University

Ed.D., Personnel Services with a concentration in Higher Education

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Leadership Alumni: Dr. M. Sharron "Sherry" Herbers

M. Sharon "Sherry" Herbers
Assistant Professor
The University of the Incarnate Word
San Antonio, Texas
Ed.D Higher and Adult Education 1998

Why did you choose Higher and Adult Education?

While working at Memphis College of Art as Director of Student Life and as a faculty member, I decided that I wanted a degree that would further my development as a professional educator in higher education. Teaching was my passion. My long term goals were to obtain a full-time teaching position and strengthen writing skills. I was the typical adult learner who sought higher education in a time of life transition. I came to HIAD searching for knowledge that could be applied.

How did this degree prepare you or improve your preparation for you current role?

I teach graduate education courses at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. I apply the theories learned in HIAD courses every single day. Kolb's theory of experiential learning is the theoretical foundation I use to design courses and individual sessions. Mezirow's theory of perspective transformation has been the centerpiece of my research agenda, from dissertation to current studies. The theories have helped me to understand why specific teaching practices are more effective, thus strengthening my own practice. One faculty member was my mentor, another was a muse. I continue to collaborate with Dr. Barbara Mullins-Nelson to develop materials for use in classes and I frequently seek the counsel of Dr. Pat Murrell when planning faculty development programs.

What impact has your degree had on your life or career?

I have realized my dream of a full-time teaching position in adult education and I have strengthened my writing skills. In addition, this degree has created opportunities and challenges that I never envisioned. I wrote a play about the early years of Highlander Folk School, a major adult education program involved in social movements since 1932. The play was performed at the 75th anniversary of Highlander in 2007. I have worked with diverse adult learners and witnessed many personal transformations. My work in adult education has deepened my appreciation for storytelling and reflective practice. I am inspired by the past, especially by adult educators who empowered others in the quest for social justice and civil rights. I am inspired in the present by class participants who share this spiritual journey of teaching and learning.

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Last Updated: 2/1/12