We at the Native Learning Center are incredibly proud of our very own, Tomasina Chupco-Gilliam, who just earned her Doctoral Degree specializing in Educational Leadership (Ed.D) from Lynn University. Tomasina is a enrolled member of the Seminole Tribe of Florida and has 10 years’ experience working throughout Tribal Departments and years of experience working with other Tribes/Nations.
What was the reason for attaining this degree, Tomasina?
The reason why I attained my degree was because I wanted to give back to my tribe, they afforded my education so in return I gained the knowledge and experience to better help my tribe, family, and other indigenous communities. WHY NOT GO ALL THE WAY?!
Why do you think it was necessary that you get your doctorate degree?
It was necessary because it was needed, I wanted to challenge myself and I am a life-long learner. It helps me personally and other communities. Gaining a level expertise essentially helps everyone if you’re willing to share.
What was the hardest thing about getting your doctorate degree?
The hardest thing about getting my degree was working at the same time. I learned that time management and work-life balance is KEY to accomplishing any goal.
What was the most satisfying thing about getting your doctorate degree?
The most satisfying thing about getting my degree is having the ability to share it with my family, because they have been with me throughout this journey. Also, progressing in my profession.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years and 10 years from now?
I see myself owning my own businesses while continuing to work for STOF. I would like to be an Indigenous/Tribal Consultant to assist in progressing various communities.
What would you like to say to other Natives who might be considering continuing their higher education?
Go for it! I will share a quote that my Dean shared with me, in order to push me forward. She said, “The years are going to pass you by anyways, so do you want them to pass with you accomplishing something (getting my degree) in the end or give up and leave empty handed.”
Now that all the work has been done, What is the first thing you are going to do after you get your doctorate degree?
GO ON VACATION!!