COEDSO chalks up success for Education Ph.D. students
By Catherine Harper
Today’s education leaders carry the torch in shaping the brightest minds of tomorrow. At Texas State, the College of Education Doctoral Student Organization (COEDSO) guides doctoral students in cultivating the next generation of scholars through learning and leadership opportunities.
COEDSO is a student-run organization in Texas State’s doctorate of education program, which, under the Department of Counseling, Leadership, Adult Education and School Psychology, offers specializations in School Improvement and Adult, Professional and Community Education. For students pursuing a Ph.D. in education at Texas State, COEDSO offers a strong support system of mentors and faculty.
Originally formed in 2002 at Texas State by then-doctoral student Tamara Clunis, COEDSO has been a uniting force for doctoral students. According to Dr. Sarah Nelson, faculty sponsor of COEDSO and a College of Education professor at Texas State, the support system of COEDSO helps doctoral students stay connected despite living off campus and having extremely busy schedules.
“COEDSO provides students with a forum for connecting with other Education Ph.D. students,” Nelson says. “Earning a Ph.D. is tremendously challenging, especially for students who are working full-time, have family responsibilities, and are commuting to San Marcos from other cities. COEDSO serves as a network of support that can make the process a bit easier.”
Officers of the organization are doctoral students elected by their peers to lead panel discussions, special-topic seminars, social events and student-to-student mentoring. As leaders, the officers play an integral role in gathering input from members and coordinating with faculty to improve the doctoral program.
“COEDSO serves as the voice of Education Ph.D. students,” Nelson says. “Faculty look to COEDSO when seeking student input on issues and for assistance in continuously improving the program … By joining COEDSO students ensure their views are represented.”
Additionally, COEDSO provides guidance in preparing for comprehensive exams, completing a dissertation, developing a research strand, and applying for faculty positions. It offers students opportunities to network with research communities such as the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education (AAACE) and the Adult Education Research Conference (AERC). The organization also keeps members informed about scholarship opportunities, like the Barbara L. Jackson Scholars Network, and provides mentor support from scholarship recipients.
Israel Aguilar, a 2011 Jackson Scholar, says his involvement with COEDSO and the Texas State program has helped him define his passions and his professional goals, like improving diversity and test scoring policies in schools.
“There are so many intersections of differences among students,” Aguilar says. “In schools we think about the most common ones — race, class, gender. But then there are other ones, like sexuality, language, ability. Our schools are becoming more and more diverse, and we need to remember that we’re dealing with humans, with children, with their experiences. ”
Through COEDSO, students like Aguilar support their fellow students on every step of their journey toward a Ph.D. in education. For more information on COEDSO and Texas State’s doctoral program in education, visit the COEDSO and Education Ph.D. websites.
UPDATED Sept. 9, 2011: The doctorate of education program in the Department of Counseling, Leadership, Adult Education and School Psychology includes specializations in School Improvement and Adult, Professional and Community Education. The doctoral program in developmental education is under the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.