WriteCast Episode 63: Starting the Prospectus: An Interview With Jeannie Croichy, Doctoral Student and Writing Instructor
© Walden University Writing Center 2019
CLAIRE: Welcome to Write Cast: A Casual Conversation for Serious Writers, a monthly podcast by the Walden University Writing Center. I’m Claire Helakoski,
KACY: and I’m Kacy Walz.
KACY: Writing Instructor and Doctor of Education student Jeannie, returns to the podcast today to talk about her experiences starting her prospectus
Hello listeners! This month I’m talking with Jeannie Croichy, one of the Writing Instructors in the Walden Writing Center. Jeannie is also a student in Walden’s doctor of education program. Claire is not here today because she is out on maternity leave. But don’t worry! She’ll be back in the fall.
You might remember Jeannie Croichy from our WriteCast Episode 44: Jeannie’s first residency. So welcome back to WriteCast, Jeannie!
JEANNIE: Hi Kacy! Thank you so much for having me again!
KACY: Thank you for being on our show! We wanted to talk to you today because you’ve recently started working on your prospectus. And that’s a huge step for doctoral students. So, we thought that our Walden listeners, and other doctoral students at different institutions, who are in a similar place or will be writing a prospectus later on, might find it helpful to hear about your experiences.
JEANNIE: I absolutely agree.
KACY: So, can you tell us a little bit about your educational journey?
JEANNIE: Yeah sure! Well, I have a B.A. in English Writing from William Patterson University in New Jersey. I have an M.A. and Education, specifically in English Language Learner from Ashford University in Iowa, and now I’m working on my doctor of education in higher education and adult learning, so yeah.
KACY: That’s so impressive, Jeannie. So, where are you at in your program right now?
JEANNIE: I’m in the prospectus stage, which is a big deal and I’m really excited. This is, like, where it truly begins, in my honest opinion.
KACY: Can you tell us a little bit about what that was like? Transitioning from your coursework into starting your prospectus?
JEANNIE: Yeah, it’s definitely different. With the course work, it was just a lot of students, you know, chiming in on different discussions and having assignments to do and it was just a lot of collaboration with students. Which was great. And now, with the prospectus, it’s different in a way where I get to work one-on-one with the committee member. And that’s really exciting to just get that individual attention, and to think about my topic, what I want to do, and just have a committee member guide me. Which is so exciting!
KACY: Yeah, definitely. Do you think that those different collaborative assignments helped you in your development to this point in your program?
JEANNIE: I think so. I think it helped me just, you know, think outside the box and also get a different perspective, and see things differently in the world of education. I think that’s great as far as applying that into my professional setting.
KACY: Yeah, those are such important things. So, you mentioned talking about your topic. . . how did you got about approaching that? Or, how did you go about finding a topic for your prospectus?
JEANNIE: Oh man. Yeah. So. I think it really started back when I went to student residency, a while back, and initially I wanted to think about how can I help students as far as their feedback, but I realized, I think everybody was kind of doing a similar topic. Not everyone. But, there were quite a few similar topics out there. So, I took some time to think about, how do I really want to make a difference? What can I do that relates to my core beliefs as far as an educator, and also what I see here at Walden? And I’ve noticed we have diverse students, and that’s the direction I wanted to go into. So, with the help of my committee member I was able to think about a topic –specifically a qualitative study—exploring academic acculturation through code matching. Which is something I’m really excited about.
JEANNIE: Yeah, and I think that serves as a remedy for, like, language discrimination among online adult learners in academic discourses. So, I’m really excited about that.
KACY: That’s such an important topic, and I think that’s one of my favorite things about working with students at the prospectus stage, is, just seeing how invested all of our students are in their topics and how important the research they’re doing is.
JEANNIE: Yeah, I truly agree. I believe it’s life changing, you know? It’s really rewarding. You really get to make a difference.
KACY: Absolutely. And I think you said. . . so was this a residency were attending as a Writing Instructor? Or was this one you were attending as a student?
JEANNIE: I was actually attending as a student. Which was really exciting to actually be among other students and get to meet students and faculty members. And of course I had a chance to meet Writing Instructors as well, but it was pretty cool just sitting there and taking everything in and getting a sense of direction. And it just made everything so real as far as the program.
KACY: Yeah, I love that about residencies. I got to go to my first residency and it was really inspirational just talking to all of these student writers.
JEANNIE: Yeah, it’s really exciting!
KACY: So, what kind of writing resources have you been using, Jeannie?
JEANNIE: Well for me I’ve been using the program’s template. Which is really important because there are just specific guidelines and structures you have to do for the prospectus and any of the capstone-related materials. You have to use the template for sure, but I know some students probably are interested in ways to improve their writing or perhaps citations. So, of course, the Walden Writing Center has great resources in that realm. But for me, the template has been extremely helpful.
KACY: Yeah, I’m really jealous of the Walden template, to be honest. We don’t have any of those in my program, and I think something like that would be so helpful!
JEANNIE: I agree. We’re really lucky.
KACY: Did anything surprise you in your transition from coursework to starting your prospectus?
JEANNIE: Yes. For my course, with the prospectus, I thought perhaps there would be other students. And there were supposed to be, I think, at least two other students. But for some reason they were unable to join the course. So, it was just me, and I was really surprised that it was just me. I was a little nervous about that. But, yeah, I really appreciate it, though, because my committee member has truly helped me just get in alignment with what I want to do, and I feel like she gets me. Which is awesome. And also she’s an expert in the Walden language. Although I’m a Writing Instructor, it doesn’t mean I know every little thing as far as just, you know, language, and I think she’s really helpful with that too. So I’m really grateful for that sense of guidance and direction.
KACY: That’s wonderful. That’s such an important relationship. So I’m really glad that you are having that awesome experience.
JEANNIE: Thank you. Me too. I’m really excited. And just grateful.
KACY: So, do you have anything that maybe you were a little nervous about? You mentioned your surprise in the course. . . is there anything else about this process, or maybe about what comes next, that you are having any concerns or nerves over?
JEANNIE: Yeah. I am nervous about just conducting the research in general. I’m sure I’ll be fine, and I’m sure I’ll receive guidance as far as doing that. But, it’s so different, you know, just actually conducting research and so, yeah. I guess I’m a little nervous but excited as well just going down that road. But just knowing that I have a committee member to help me. . . that’s awesome. So I’ll be fine for sure.
KACY: I love the idea, you know, the nervousness being kind of a good thing, right? I think it shows that you’re really invested in this project, like you said. And that you are going to put a lot of effort and work, and I have no doubts that it’s going to excellent, Jeannie.
JEANNIE: Yeah, I agree, and if I may say something that my fiancé tells me a lot, he’s like, “when you’re nervous or scared, that means you’re ready.” I’m pretty sure he got that from a movie or something. But yeah. I feel lucky.
KACY: I love that, yeah, that’s great! Can you tell us a little bit about how this process of writing the prospectus has been different than say writing a course paper or some other research paper that you’ve written in the past?
JEANNIE: Yeah, I feel like with the course paper, there’s a structure as far as just, you know, your introduction with a thesis, and your body paragraphs that relate to your introduction, your thesis. And you’re just addressing what you need to address as far as the assignment. But, with the prospectus, it’s totally different. There’s the problem statement which is so important, and I just feel like without a problem statement you just don’t have a prospectus. So that’s really important. Every single thing seems to relate back to the problem statement. And of course there’s the research method and then research questions. . . and there’s just so many different aspects of the prospectus that is just not in a regular course paper. And it really takes a lot of time and effort and just consideration and hours at a café. . . Lots of coffee. . .
KACY: Oh yeah.
JEANNIE: To just, you know, get through it, and, you know, just really focus. Which is exciting, especially if it’s something that you’re truly interested in. Like, just sitting there at a café or wherever you’re sitting at, it just doesn’t even matter because it’s doing something that you truly love. And that’s definitely different than a course paper, because you have to do that course paper in order to pass the course.
KACY: Yeah, it’s kind of that training, like, you can prove that you’re ready for that next step, right? Where you get to choose your research topic, and you get to choose what you are focusing on.
JEANNIE: Yes, absolutely.
KACY: So, do you have any tips or advice for students who are about to start working on their prospectus? Or those who know they’re going to have to write on in the future?
JEANNIE: Yeah, I have three tips. Definitely try to know your topic, even if it’s not clear, just have a sense of what you would like your topic to be. And then take some time to actually create a problem statement. Just address: what is the problem within your topic? And what needs to be done? And I think that will take you a long way, for sure. It will help you be prepared.
Also, don’t feel overwhelmed. I know that’s really hard, but just know you’re guided, you’re not doing this alone, you have a committee member or committee members, and they’re there to help you whatever feedback you get from them, don’t take it personally as like a personal attack on you, but it’s just, they’re giving you feedback to strengthen your writing, and to really make it sound scholarly and in alignment of what a prospectus should look like. So, we’re really lucky to have that, you know, here at Walden. Which I’m truly grateful for, and I think students will appreciate that too.
The first one was knowing your topic. The second one was problem statement. The third one is to not take things personally. Don’t feel overwhelmed, you have your committee members.
KACY: Yeah, your point about knowing your topic, Jeannie, I think is really important and something that I definitely struggled with when I was writing my own prospectus. Because I think I was trying too hard to force my own preconceived problem statement into my topic, and once I just let myself take that time and really explore what I was interested in researching, I think that problem statement came about a lot more organically, and a lot more fluently than when I was just thinking I already had my answer set up. Right? Thinking that I already knew exactly what I wanted to say in my prospectus.
JEANNIE: Absolutely, I’m totally nodding my head over here. Thank you for sharing that!
KACY: We have a lot of resources for students who are working on their prospectus or are thinking about starting that in the future and so before I let you go, Jeannie, is there anything else you want to tell our readers er- sorry-our listeners?
JEANNIE: Yeah, just know you’re supported, for sure, and you have access to lots of resources. Do not be afraid to check them out. And if you ever need help, reach out for sure. You’re not alone in this journey. And thank goodness for that!
KACY: Yeah, definitely! Jeannie, I’ve so enjoyed chatting with you today. Thank you for coming back on to WriteCast. I just have one last question: Would you be willing to come back to WriteCast later on? We’d love to check in with you periodically as you continue on your doctoral journey.
JEANNIE: Yes, it would be great. I think it will help students too, and it would be great to just, you know, share my experience with everyone.
KACY: Definitely. And listeners, if you have any questions for Jeannie, feel free to send those to us at [email protected]. And we’ll include some related resources in our show notes for today’s episode. In particular, if you’re a Walden student working on your prospectus, be sure to check out the Writing Center’s paper review service for individualized feedback on your drafts. Before we go, we wanted to give you a heads up about something new we’re going to be trying this summer: Our first book club episode! We’ll be discussing the book How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing by Paul Silvia. We’d like to encourage you to read along if you’re interested, and we wanted to make sure we gave you the opportunity to check out that book beforehand. If you have any questions about the book or topics you’d like us to cover, we’d love it if you’d email us at [email protected] or get in touch through social media.
Until next time, keep writing, keep inspiring!
KACY: WriteCast is a monthly podcast produced by the Walden University Writing Center. Visit our online Writing Center at academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter. Find more WriteCast episodes on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or your favorite podcast app. We would love to hear from you. Connect with us on our blog, Facebook, and Twitter, and at [email protected]. Thanks for listening!