Part two of a four-part series featuring Teresa Cronell, Curriculum Studies concentration.
Teresa Cronell has been a nursing educator for more than a decade and a registered nurse for 32 years. When she began looking for an advanced degree program, she, like others, was torn between choosing a Ph.D. or Ed.D. She needed to choose a program that fit her content needs. One day after giving an online lecture during the early days of the pandemic, she was scrolling on her computer and began searching for programs at the University of South Carolina.
“I saw the title “Educational Practice and Innovation” and learned about the different pathways,” Cronell says. “After reviewing the program of study, I immediately knew that curriculum studies was the pathway for me.”
In her experience as a nursing educator and practitioner, Cronell saw firsthand the problems that arise when students’ education is not aligned with the life experiences of their patients. Cronell had experience working with underrepresented populations in nursing and helping them navigate the field. When she made a career change as lecturer at a different university, Cronell had to discover a new way to incorporate that passion for making the field of nursing more accessible to diverse students.
“I previously taught nursing students from all over the world and introduced them to the English language and the language of medicine,” Cronell says. “We discussed the culture of nursing and the culture of our country, and I knew I was making a real difference. At my new university, I shared with my fellow faculty how a diversity deficit in nursing causes negative health outcomes in our patients. When we communicate, we need to be fully aware of a variety of patient lived experiences.”
As the only nurse in her cohort in the program, Cronell found that she had to educate herself on some of the classroom experiences of her fellow K-12 teachers. As the program progressed she was able to offer her cohort a window into the world of health care – solidifying to her the importance of shared understanding.
Cronell credits professors Suha Tamim and Rhonda Jeffries with making her dissertation process manageable.
“Professor Tamim has this incredible ability to get students to write massive amounts within an eight week course,” Cronell says. “My major professor, Dr. Jeffries, gave me the great advice of ‘just write something.’ I can hear her saying this over and over as I wrote my final drafts of my dissertation.”
As she is nearing the end of her program, Cronell shares that it’s a privilege to have this opportunity to learn. She has loosened some of her perfectionist tendencies and gained a voice as an advocate for diversification and inclusive excellence on her campus. She knows this process is just the beginning of a new phase in her career of service.