Patricia Santanello, Ed.D., high school theatre teacher at Dublin Scioto High School in Dublin, Ohio, has made quite the journey to graduate with her Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) from the University of Findlay. In fact, Findlay was her third attempt at earning her Ed.D. Santanello started, and completed, all of her coursework at two other universities before attending Findlay.
Earning a doctorate in education has always been a goal of Santanello’s, but during her first attempt at her Ed.D., she had kind of hit a bump in the road. In the past at her previous university, there was a residency requirement where you had to physically be a full-time student. At this time, she was a single parent and teaching, so this was not going to work for her, and the university didn’t offer any flexibility. So, in 1997, Santanello left the program very frustrated. In 2013, Santanello began her second attempt at completing her Ed.D. in a fully online program. “This doctorate in education program was set up very similar to the first program I was in. You did all of your coursework and then, after you were done with all of your coursework, you start working on your dissertation,” stated Santanello. Unfortunately, none of her previous courses transferred to the second university. So, for the second time, she spent three years completing all of her doctoral coursework at the second university. Santanello made it to working on her dissertation proposal, but after a year, she still wasn’t any further along on her proposal. “I kept getting stonewalled, it was getting very expensive, and I just thought this could be an endless process. So, I started looking around and came across information about the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED) and in the list of Carnegie schools, there was Findlay.” Santanello has a really good friend who had a wonderful experience and graduated from Findlay. So, she decided to check Findlay out and contacted the Office of Admissions. “I was very, very impressed,” said Santanello. She decided to leave her second Ed.D. program and move to Findlay with the hope that she could transfer some of her coursework, which did not work. So, for a third time, she started completely from scratch.
It seemed like the third time was the charm for Santanello, as she immediately saw the benefit of making to move to Findlay. “Starting at Findlay was like a breath of fresh air. Although I had to do all of my coursework over again, unlike the other two times I had to take doctoral coursework, the courses I took at Findlay were relevant,” mentioned Santanello. She learned things that she could immediately apply to her teaching and use in her classroom. “At Findlay, I didn’t mind taking the coursework again because I really learned a lot and the fact that we were working on our dissertation as we went through classes made a big difference,” mentioned Santanello. “I can’t think of any reason why someone would not want to complete their Ed.D. at Findlay. It’s just an amazing program with amazing faculty members who are so helpful and supportive. You get the feeling from day one that they want you to successfully finish your degree,” said Santanello.
Santanello graduated with her Doctor of Education in May of 2020. According to her, not being able to attend her graduation ceremony in 2020 due to COVID-19 was the “ultimate irony,” to her long journey. However, “the fact that Findlay provided 2020 graduates the opportunity to walk this year was phenomenal. It just meant everything to me,” she said.
Santanello also expressed thankfulness for her committee. This includes: Jon Brasfield, Ph.D., associate professor of education, John Gillham, Ed.D., associate professor of education and chair of the doctorate of education program, and Kara Parker, Ed.D., assistant professor of education.