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July 13, 2007

Parenting education program celebrates first graduate

Stephanie Jones
Stephanie Jones, left, first parent education graduate, is pictured with Karen DeBord. (Photo courtesy of Karen DeBord)

Just a year after it was officially approved and open to students, a joint parenting education program between N.C. State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro awarded its first degree this spring. Stephanie Jones is the first graduate to earn a master of science degree in human development and family studies, with a concentration in family life and parent education, from both universities.

Jones began work on the degree requirements in fall 2003 when the first class was offered, before the degree was formally approved. A former parent educator with North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Brunswick County, she commuted three and four hours from her home to N.C. State and UNCG to complete the degree.

Faculty members in the program recognized Jones at the first graduate with a “Trailblazer Award” presented in April.

Jones is mother four daughters ages 15, 12, 10 and 2. Her youngest child was born after her first semester as a graduate student, and her mother helped Jones stay in school by driving mother and baby to classes while her daughter was an infant.

“We’ve all earned this degree,” Jones said of her family.

In addition to her duties as mother and graduate student, Jones served as a part-time teaching assistant for a human development and family studies class at N.C. State. She also has worked with Dr. Karen DeBord, professor and child development specialist in the Department of 4-H Youth Development and Family and Consumer Sciences on a grant-sponsored program aimed at youth school success and workforce preparedness among youth in Wake and Brunswick counties.

Jones says she has a passion for parenting education and sharing her experiences and knowledge with others. “I do the best I can with my family and I like to use the knowledge I’ve gained to help other families,” she said.

In its first year, the joint master’s degree program enrolled 14 students. Students take courses at both N.C. State and UNCG, and their degree is awarded by both institutions. Though the program has not been widely marketed, DeBord said she receives about eight to 10 email inquiries about the program each month.

“Students are looking for this type of degree,” she said. “There’s nothing else like it in the state.”

DeBord recently announced a new graduate certificate in program development for family life education, which Jones will help administer next year. The 12-hour graduate certificate includes three required courses and one elective course. The certificate program is designed for those with an interest in developing family life education programs, and is also a good way to get a taste for graduate school, DeBord said.

-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at July 13, 2007 01:25 PM