Meet Kemah Washington
The first place honors in the Education category at this year's Graduate Student Research Symposium was awarded to Kemah Eugene Paul Washington for his presentation entitled, Towards a Deeper Understanding of Community College Part-Time Faculty: Perceptions of Roles and Expectations.
Originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Washington attended Millersville University for his bachelor's in Communication-Public Relations. However, his graduate work has been all NC State! After receiving his M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration-Student Affairs in 2006, he continued in the doctoral program. He earned his Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration at NC State and graduated in May of this year.
However, Washington said that choosing NC State as the place to do his graduate research was a random pick. He had never heard of NC State, until his roommate at the time was applying to NC State. He said that after a visit with the Higher Education Program here, he was sold on NC State and a move to North Carolina -- not to mention the sweet tea and Bojangles that he says did him in!
Higher education was more of a natural focus for Washington, but he says that it was strictly a business move since he works with student activities offices in graphic design, web projects, event planning, and artist booking. His graduate degree offers him a way to increase his business acumen in the college/university setting. Additionally, Washington says that he has ". . . always enjoyed working in leadership positions on campus. In a way it was a natural transition from my work as a student leader."
In pursuing his doctoral research, Washington investigated ". . . the ways in which community college part-time faculty come to understand what it means to be a faculty member." He says that because of the continual problem of budget constraints, there is over-reliance on part-time faculty in the community colleges. Data show that students graduate at lower rates when the majority of their instructors teach part time. What Washington wanted to know was why this occurs.
He set out to explore ". . . first-hand experiences and perceptions of part-time faculty with respect to the roles and duties they associate with teaching at a community college." Washington hoped that the results of his research would show why part-time instructors are perceived as less committed, less skilled, and less informed than full--time faculty members.
Washington's results showed that part-time faculty ". . . are skilled and committed, but they are not receiving the support they feel they need to succeed from the institutions at which they are employed." Community colleges need to make an investment in their part-time faculty, since better training and opportunities for professional development will lead to better performing faculty, which will ultimately lead to better student performance. Washington hopes that the results of his study will ". . . shift part-time faculty perceptions from that of second-class faculty to a mindset in which part-time faculty are valued as highly skilled, competent and credible instructors." By changing the current mindset to a more positive direction will foster high-performing, high-achieving part-time faculty.
He says that although he was focused on his dissertation, he still made time to stay 'busy with business', play in his fruit and vegetable garden, and spend family time with his wife, Brandi, and daughter, Kennedi. And a few months after graduating, he and his family moved to West Africa in order to work at the Baptist School and Orphanage Complex in Trotor, Ghana.
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