Write an essay where you tell us about what drives you in your pursuit of your graduate degree.

Over the next three years I see myself working diligently to do two things, complete a doctorate in Educational Leadership and research and implement a literacy project in Malawi’s ECD (early childhood development) program. My involvement in SAFE, Sub-Saharan Family Enrichment, is what led me to pursue my doctoral degree. SAFE’s mission is to help the most vulnerable children in the villages of Malawi, Africa. SAFE’s work in education is producing positive results which have captured the attention of high ranking officials across the nation. One focus of education is ECD in village run preschools. These schools have teachers, buildings, a feeding program and financial support, but are in need of effective training, curriculum and materials to ensure the academic success of the children. I have been asked to lead a team of educators with a vision for creating a literacy program for these schools.
The project, called BUILD, stands for “Building Understanding in Literacy Development” and aims to lay a foundation of literacy/numeracy development within the early years of education. Education will help to break the chains of poverty and literacy is its foundation. SAFE currently oversees and operates 22 village preschool programs throughout Malawi. Our goal is to conduct research and baseline studies and then pilot the BUILD program in three of SAFE’s preschools and later include all 22 schools. During my recent visit to Malawi, government officials and NGO leaders showed an interest in the project and its focus on literacy. It has become clear that we may be in a position to implement a program into more than just the SAFE schools, but very possibly across the nation.
Leading a team who will research and create a comprehensive literacy program for ECD will be the focus of my doctoral dissertation in Educational Leadership. Developing a program that is sustainable, culturally appropriate and effective will impact lives indefinitely.

Stacy from California
Azusa Pacific University