Alumni Spotlight – Dr. Erich R. Reichley
Why I Got My Doctorate of Education.
In my youth, my parents pushed me to do well in school so I could go to college. I ended up joining the military instead. As I went through the ranks, various friends and colleagues talked to me about their perspectives on the importance of various college degrees. I recall one friend stating that a bachelor’s degree was a way to indicate that a person could learn something new. Later, a supervisor recommended that I hold off earning a master’s degree until I left active duty. He reasoned that having a master’s degree may make me overqualified for jobs and should be a tool for promotion later in a post-military career.
Interestingly, no one discussed the reasons to seek or avoid a Doctorate. It took a phone call from NAU’s recruitment team to get me enrolled in the program. However, I still did not know why it mattered to me. As the officer who officiated my retirement ceremony prepared her speech, she asked me why I wanted to get a Doctorate. Only then did it sink in. I told her I wanted to reshape public education in American schools. That became my mission in my doctoral studies.
My entire three years of study revolved around understanding American public education so I could shape my dissertation around it. My dissertation looked at a small slice of the problem and unearthed more questions than it answered. However, the main driver for earning a Doctorate is to influence real and positive change in American public education. A Doctorate is not a checkbox or a tool for promotion. It is a passion. It is something you do to build knowledge and apply that knowledge to large, complex problems.