Our next installment in “Tomorrow’s Learning Leaders” highlights the experience of Jennifer Nickell Lovett. This teacher educator received her doctorate in mathematics and statistics education at NC State’s spring commencement on May 7.
We talked to Lovett about her experience in the College of Education and what’s in store for her future.
Why did you choose to come to NC State? When did you begin your studies?
I chose NC State because it has one of the country’s top doctoral programs in mathematics education. The emphasis on teaching mathematics with technology made NC State stand out from the other universities that I applied to. I began my program in the fall of 2012.
What is the greatest challenge you had to overcome during your time here?
My greatest challenge was making the decision to leave my students, friends and family in Cincinnati and move to Raleigh to pursue my doctoral degree. Without their support, I might not have made the decision to pursue my dream job.
What has been your best NC State memory?
My best memories of NC State will be the laughs I shared with my friends in the doctoral program. These lifelong friendships we formed helped me keep my sanity through coursework, comprehensive exams, data collection and writing my dissertation.
What do you plan to do after graduation?
My husband and I will be moving to Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I have accepted a position as an assistant professor in mathematics education at Middle Tennessee State University.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned at the College of Education?
My goal upon entering the doctoral program was to inspire the next generation of mathematics teachers, similar to the way my undergraduate mathematics education professors at Miami University inspired me. However, while at the College of Education, I learned that conducting research of preservice mathematics teachers was a passion as well, and that my research will make me a more effective professor.
Has there been a particular faculty or staff member that has greatly influenced your education?
All of the mathematics education professors made a big impact on me as I grew into my new role as a mathematics teacher educator. Hollylynne Lee, my advisor and dissertation chair, had the greatest influence on me. She challenged me every day, supported my goals, and pushed me to my full potential. She never let me settle with anything other than my best!
How has the College of Education prepared you for a career after graduation?
The mathematics education faculty provided me with opportunities to collaborate in research and in collegiate teaching experiences. Over the years, I have been given more and more responsibilities to grow professionally to prepare for a career in academia as a teacher educator.
What advice would you give students considering pursuing a degree in education?
My advice to doctoral students is to do more than just what is required of you. I feel fully prepared for my new role as a mathematics teacher educator because of all of the experiences I had while at NC State, and many of those experiences were not a requirement of my program. Through my time presenting at conferences, publishing papers, working alongside faculty members and collaborating with other graduate students, I gained invaluable knowledge that I can take with me into my future role.
Do you have any additional thoughts on graduating?
The last four years have been the most challenging of my life. I have gained so much knowledge and now I am ready to put that knowledge into practice and help prepare the next generation of mathematics teachers.
Learn more about our doctoral programs preparing tomorrow’s teaching leaders.