We Do Not Learn From Experience...We Learn From Reflecting On Experience.
- John Dewey
“Those people who develop the ability to continuously acquire new and better forms of knowledge that they can apply to their work and to their lives will be the movers and shakers in our society for the indefinite future.” – Confucius
This quote is one that has guided my journey through my educational career. I consider myself a life-long learner. One who will continue to learn and acquire new knowledge after the completion of this degree. As I reflect on my journey and growth, I recognize and value the intellectual development that has occurred as a direct result of this pathway. Furthermore, preparing myself to adapt to my environment through the organization of my thoughts, perceptions, and perspectives. Finally, this journey has granted me a platform from which I have expanded my thoughts and ideas, logic, conceptualization, and judging abilities.
From the inception of this journey, as I applied for acceptance into this program, I researched and found a new love and appreciation for the bases of what was to become my primary focus of this degree, extended reality. Upon acceptance and starting this degree, I expanded my knowledge about extended reality, including augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality. This umbrella of extended reality allowed me to dabble in each specific arena furthering my knowledge and allowing me to dig deeper into the capabilities and boundless implications of each technology. Little did I know what was around the corner!
Before beginning my first semester, I had the opportunity to interview with Dr. Edyburn, whose enthusiasm and encouragement made me believe I was on the right path and at the right school. He shared my exhilaration as I shared my thoughts of research interest, galvanizing me further into pursuing this mammoth challenge ahead. He was the first person who made a life-changing impact on my journey. During my first semester, I had the privilege of having Dr. Spector and Dr. Knezek as professors. The warm welcome and inviting spirit I was greeted with allowed me to spread my wings. They boosted my confidence. After all, returning to school after 14 years can be a little disquieting, but through encouraging words and positive feedback on assignments, I knew this task was one I was willing to traverse. By the end of my first semester, I had taken on the challenge of submitting two conference proposals, both of which were accepted, endowing me with the assertion that no challenge was too great. I enjoyed listening to a rich collection of stories about fascinating artifacts and aspired to be just as impactful of a professor one day.
Upon completion of my first semester, I was approached by Dr. Knezek to consider a graduate research position under him at the Institute for the Integration of Technology into Teaching and Learning. I was humbled by this opportunity that I just could let not pass by. Dr. Knezek and Dr. Christensen's projects not only piqued my interest but also aligned with my research interests, which include bringing education to life through the infusion of cutting-edge technologies. This role allowed me to acquire a more in-depth understanding of research, analysis, and evaluation at a rapid speed, facilitating me to ask specific questions that will be imperative to my evolution both on a personal and professional level as well as in my particular research field.
As an associate professor of computer science, technology is my passion. As I progressed through this degree, I have been empowered to push my boundaries, step outside of my comfort zone, and embrace the possibilities of a new career trajectory. In Mid-spring, an incredible opportunity was presented as I was invited to participate in a grant proposal to build a virtual reality lab on the campus where I teach. We were awarded this grant at the beginning of the summer, and I hit the ground running. My confidence has increased in my ability to build an extended reality (XR) lab from the ground up due to the experience I have gained in such a short time. I aspire to be a leader of Adoption of Integration or a Professor of Emerging Technologies in a higher education institution. As an emerging technology leader focusing on virtual reality, I look forward to supporting my campus as we move forward with emerging technologies and our new state-of-the-art extended reality (XR) lab.