California Educator

October / November 2018

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Student, Educator, Leader Earning a doctorate while teaching is not easy, but worth it By Brian Kerl I N 2 0 13 , I retired from the United States Marine Corps after 28 years of active duty. I was hired by Oceanside Unified School District to run the Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (MCJROTC) program at Oceanside High School. Simultaneously, I applied to the University of San Diego's School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES) for their doctoral program in leadership. Brian Kerl (second from right) stands with his University of San Diego doctoral committee including USD professors Lea Hubbard, Robert Donmoyer, Fred Galloway (committee chair), and Paolo Tripodi, professor at the Marine Corps' Lejeune Leadership Institute. t first, I had planned on pursuing a Ph.D. in history based on my desire to teach history, and I already had an M.A. in history from the University of San Diego. But a professor at USD convinced me to apply to SOLES to combine the best of two worlds — years of being a practitioner of leadership as an officer of Marines coupled with a Ph.D. in Leadership. My professor believed this combination offered the greatest opportunities for teaching, leading and mentoring people. The SOLES program, which highlights leadership, social justice and creating meaning ful change in a diverse society, complemented my teaching at Oceanside, as MCJROTC focuses on leadership and character development. Further, I was taught by superb professors whose instruction and mentoring helped develop my teaching skills. Once accepted into the SOLES program, I worked fulltime at Oceanside while com- pleting four years of academically rigorous coursework through night school — two nights per week from 5:30-8:30 — and one course each summer session. My dissertation research involved interviewing eight commandants ( four-star gen- erals) of the U. S. Marine Corps. ey shared their perspectives on how the command climate, established by the commanding officer, influences the ethical behavior of the Marines in the organization. In June of this year, I successfully defended my disserta- tion and was awarded a doctorate. Throughout my Ph.D. experience, I was a student and an educator. I continued to enhance my knowledge during the doctoral process and was able to educate A 16 Perspectives Y O U R V O I C E

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