EdD Alumni Profile: Sarah Beth Dempsey
My doctoral experience had a profound impact on me personally and professionally. It prepared me to be a scholar-practitioner; my dissertation, Assessing the Impact of Faculty Development for Community Engagement Faculty, was directly related to my professional work. I also developed close friendships with my classmates, mentor relationships with my professors, and the confidence to complete my degree in four years, while working full time and raising a family.
This is my sixth academic year working in the Catholic Institute for Lasallian Action (CILSA) at Saint Mary's College. CILSA is the social justice office on campus that collaborates with students, faculty, staff, and community partners to create transformative community engagement experiences. In my role as the assistant director for community engagement and faculty development, I provide training and support to faculty members who each year teach the 50+ community engagement courses, with 800+ enrolled students. Additionally, I cultivate relationships with nonprofit agencies and schools throughout the Bay Area, and I provide guidance and mentorship to our 14 AmeriCorps VISTA Members. I have the privilege of supervising an amazing team of student leaders, called Engaged Learning Facilitators (ELFs), and a fabulous AmeriCorps VISTA Coordinator who is also an Saint Mary's alum!
My dissertation on faculty development for community engagement courses was directly related to my work in CILSA. Six months after graduation, I had the honor of presenting my dissertation at the International Association for Research on Service-Learning & Community Engagement (IARSLCE) conference to a full room of conference attendees. This is a premier organization in my field and it was validating to receive such a positive response to my dissertation research. I am now working on my third IRB-approved research project since graduation. I presented my last research project at IARSLCE this past summer, and I have become a resource to other practitioners at higher education institutions across the country who want to assess their programs, too.
My doctoral experience had a profound impact on me personally and professionally. I developed close friendships with my classmates and mentor relationships with my professors. It also prepared me to be a scholar-practitioner, and gave me the confidence to know I could multi-task and handle anything, including simultaneously completing my degree in four years, working full time, and raising a family.