Katie Shoemaker

Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education, Academic Affairs and Student Development

Field of Study: PhD in Higher Education - Student Access and Success

Year in Program: 3rd Year

Where do you HAIL from? Arcanum, OH

Prior degree(s): BA in English from Wittenberg University; MA in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Ohio State University

Before coming to UM: Prior to moving to Ann Arbor, I worked for four years at Miami University as a First Year Adviser, where I academically advised first year students and supervised a residence hall. Also while at Miami, I designed and led a few study abroad programs. That experience sparked my interest in international education research, which is what led me to the University of Michigan.

Why your program? I am interested in a faculty career after finishing my degree, and I knew Michigan had a long history of solid faculty preparation. Michigan has unparalleled resources in research and methods training, so I knew I would get an education that would set me up to do good work. There are faculty both in this program and in outside departments that I wanted to partner with and learn from, whose research interests are related to mine. It was also clear to me that both Michigan as an institution and this program have a lot of resources to go around. Where other programs I looked into seemed to be struggling to provide funding for student research, travel, and assistantships, the opposite was true for Michigan. It feels like there is support (financial and otherwise) for me to pursue all my academic interests. I also appreciated that I would have a research assistantship, allowing me to get great research experience and funding at the same time, as opposed to being placed in an administrative assistantship while I had to look on my own and find extra time to get research experience. Lastly, because this program has been a top-ranked program for a long time, there is an enormous network of successful alumni faculty, policymakers, administrators, and other professionals with whom I can connect.

The best part of SOE so far: I think the best aspect of my time at Michigan has been so far has been the community I have found with fellow students and the feeling of being intellectually challenged. I am close with the members of my cohort, and we have fun together inside and outside the classroom. If I have questions, I know I can go to more advanced students in the program for help and advice. Intellectually, I have been so pleased with my academic experiences. Faculty have challenged me to think in new ways about research interests and higher education issues. I have become a stronger writer and better thinker from feedback I received through coursework and one-on-one conversations. Because the program is full of talented students, hearing different perspectives and opinions through classroom conversation has taught me so much.

Teach me something! Before my first semester, I was intimidated and scared I wouldn't have what it takes to succeed in a doctoral program. I also thought I was the only one who felt this way. But during my first year, I realized that many people felt similarly. It was easy for my peers and I to be intimidated by the specific talents others had that we did not, while forgetting that we also had areas of expertise we viewed as mundane that others wished they had. Realizing that people I looked up to had insecurities of their own about their work and abilities put things in perspective. This eased my fears and allowed me to redirect my focus from the things I didn't know to all the areas of growth and opportunities for learning that are right at my fingertips.