Doctoral Student Spotlight: Sara Moore


Doctoral student Sara Moore reflects on her journey to earning their Doctor of Educational Leadership degree as Lamar University prepares for the annual Doctoral Hooding Ceremony.

Q: What was the most challenging thing about going through the doctoral program?
A: Endurance!  Getting through the regular class work was easy, but it was once I started the dissertation process that became stressful.  I felt like it was a constant hurry-up-and-wait.  With no EXACT deadlines for the dissertation steps, combined with facing a task that is brand new, I feel like I was struggling to complete things and not procrastinate.
Q: What sparked your passion for education?  
A: I got my bachelors degree in business marketing and while I was working on that degree I worked as a substitute teacher.  I fell in love with teacher, which I paired with my love for math.  I signed up for my alternative certification during my last semester, I taught high school math for about 10 years when I realized that I wanted to help other educators become better educators.  I then pursued my masters and principal certification through Lamar University. Before I was done with my masters, I had already decided that I was going to get my doctorate.  I would describe myself as a life long learner not only in academics, because I do love math and love for other students to love math, but I also love to continue to learn hands-on tasks like wood projects.

Q: How was it working with Dr. Faulk on your dissertation?  
A: Dr. Faulk was great!  He was very reassuring in the work I was doing.  Dr. Faulk was great at communication. I would email at all hours - when I was able to get work done and he was always quick to respond. Dr. Faulk provided constructive feedback that helped me make changes to each chapter at a time. He was great to schedule meetings with myself and Dr. Welch to gain other feedback.  The best part was leading up to my defense of my dissertation.  I spoke to him multiple times on the phone and he reassured me that I had done a great job because if I hadn't then I would be scheduling to defend. He also told me that I was well prepared with my notes for the presentation and just to relax - "You have spent all this time researching the topic and conducting research that you know what you are talking about - just talk about what you know," he said.  I think many times the doctorate process is seen as such a formal process, but my dealing with Dr. Faulk was very "real"; he understood that in my current role as a junior high principal, I am busy.

Q: When you successfully defended your dissertation, how did you feel?
A: It was amazing!  It is all this rush and hurry-up then wait, edits and resend just to make more edits, meetings and feedback to change things again.  My professional peers and mentors that have doctorates said that you will feel a huge relief when it is done, but I had no idea that it would be like it was.  It felt like a wave of relief washed over me; it was amazing to think that I had been working on something for years to lead  up to this moment and just like that, it was done.  I feel extremely accomplished and though I know that it is a "big deal", when you are living it, you forget how big it is.  My mom was extremely proud and when I called her to tell her that I had successfully defended, she told me this story. (I did adult things in an unconventional way) - When you had Georgia (my daughter) and you were sitting on the edge of the bed in your apartment trying to figure out life since you had quit college and now had a child, you said to me "I feel like such a disappointment."  She then told me that I had overcome multiple battles and that I was in no way a disappointment, but that she was so proud of everything I had achieved.
Q: What's next for you?  
A: During my first year of my doctorate, I started and completed my superintendent certification program so now I have all the degrees and certifications needed in education. Moving forward I would like to pursue an assistant superintendent position at a larger district, but would almost prefer a superintendent position at a smaller rural school since the rural setting is my newer passion. I am also very interested in joining a university to work as an adjunct professor in the online masters/doctorate education program.  I can honestly say that since my defense and finishing all edits on my dissertation, I have enjoyed what seems like extra time.


"I'm very proud of Sara because she came in and did what she had to do from the beginning to the end. To see my students go through the process and not only grow, but evolve –– it's amazing."

- Dr. Neil Faulk, assistant professor of educational leadership