Students in Troy University’s Global Leadership Ph.D. program had the opportunity to renew relationships and forge new bonds this weekend as they took part in the program’s second annual Immersion Weekend.
The program, which is offered exclusively online through the University’s College of Education, launched in the fall of 2020. The convenience of a program offered completely online is what drew many students to enroll, but the opportunity to connect in-person once or twice a year is what some students consider the “icing on the cake.”
Lynn Garner, a member of the program’s third cohort, is pursuing the higher education administration tract. She works in the Research Grants Office at Jacksonville State University.
“I appreciate the chance to visit and see the TROY campuses,” she said. “I believe the Immersion Weekend helps us all come together and get to know each other. We get to see people face-to-face that we normally just see online. It really is the icing on the cake because you get to solidify your bonds with your classmates.”
Garner was one of nearly 45 students who came together this weekend for the event. On Friday, students were greeted by Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr. and Dr. Kerry Palmer, Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, at the University’s Montgomery Campus before embarking on a day of sessions and workshops. Sessions followed the model of speed-dating, as students had the opportunity to get to know one another and ask questions of faculty members in timed group activities.
On Saturday, the group traveled to the Troy Campus where they toured campus and took part in workshops related to scholarly writing and publication and the process of creating a theoretical framework for their research, among other activities, before returning to Montgomery.
David Vanlandingham, a member of the program’s second cohort, is finishing up classes in December and beginning the dissertation phase of the program in January.
“The experience has been phenomenal,” he said. “The support of all the faculty together with the immersion events that we have had, which are unique for a lot of doctoral programs, has been great. Since we are online, we do not get to see each other. Getting to come together and being able to talk with one another in person and network with others has been a very good experience.”
Patricia Burnett, a member of Cohort 5, said having the opportunity to meet face-to-face with others in the program has been a very positive experience for her.
“We all have busy lives, which is why we are doing this program online,” Burnett said. “But when we get together like this it kind of rejuvenates you. When you can see others in-person and know that they are going through what you are going through, it just makes it a lot easier. You get the opportunity to talk with your professors, face-to-face, and they are very helpful and accommodating.”
Burnett also said that the cohort structure of the program is helpful.
“I really like the fact that we are in cohorts,” she said. “I really depend on my team members. If I had to do it all over again, I certainly would.”
In additional to learning about various aspects of leadership and its impact on the world, some lessons learned from the experience go beyond the coursework.
“It has been a real learning experience for me,” Garner said. “I have grown a lot, both professionally and personally.”