Rebecca Hurst learned her lesson about predicting the future.
Although Hurst had no plans for a career shift into administration, she earned a Master of Education in Elementary Education from Mississippi College to earn a higher salary.
"Within a year or so, I realized I wanted to keep going and get into administration," she said. "That was not my plan all along. If someone would have said something about being a principal, I would have said, 'No.' Here I am doing the opposite.
"Now, when people ask me if I'm going to do something else in my career, I say, 'I don't know. I'm not going to answer that anymore. Every time I say no, I end up back in school to learn something else.'"
Hurst, a math intervention specialist at Olde Towne Middle School in Ridgeland, Mississippi, graduated with an Education Specialist (Ed.S.) in Educational Leadership degree from Mississippi College in 2017.
She is enrolled in the Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership at MC and hopes to eventually teach an elementary education program in college.
"I'd like to teach teachers who are about to enter the field," said Hurst, who taught eighth-grade math for five years. "As a teacher, I hope I make a lasting impact on my students. I think about how many more students I could impact if I were teaching teachers to go into the field."
When Hurst completes the doctoral program in May 2020, she will have four degrees in eight years from MC, including a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education.
"I really enjoy my professors at Mississippi College," she said. "I knew a lot of the professors that I had in undergrad would also be part of the master's program, so I would be able to continue to learn under them. They're very kind.
"That's why I chose to go back to Mississippi College -- I had such a good experience with it. Even now, a professor I had years ago remembers who I am and where I'm working, and they're able to help in any way possible."
While growing up in Madison, Mississippi, Hurst developed a love of education from her grandmother, Jo Mary Maxcy, a longtime teaching assistant.
"When I was young, I really struggled in school," Hurst said. "I struggled reading. I had tubes in my ears, so I couldn't hear when they were teaching us the sounds for the letters. They wanted to hold me back, but my grandmother moved in with us during her summers off to make sure I learned how to read and could continue on to the next grade level. She came every summer until I was in middle school."
Hurst, who also worked at a daycare throughout high school and her undergraduate degree program, took her love of math and chose teaching over engineering. She received several scholarships and two TEACH Grants that enabled her to attend MC.
"A lot of people from church were going there, so it was my dream to go there, too," Hurst said. "The Lord worked it out, and I was able to go last minute. I didn't find out I was going to be able to do that until May of my senior year of high school."
Although she has some aunts and uncles with college degrees, Hurst was the first grandchild in her family to earn a four-year degree.
"It was a big deal when I graduated with my bachelor's degree," she said. "For me to continue on and, hopefully, be the first one to also get my doctorate is very exciting for my grandparents and parents."
Although Hurst taught while enrolled in the Ed.S. in Educational Leadership program, the curriculum was applicable to her job in the classroom.
"It's completely different when you learn it while you're actually in the classroom," she said. "A lot of what they were teaching us I could apply the very next day. I could try it, see if it works and come back with questions.
"In the undergraduate program, you are just kind of soaking it all in; you can't really apply it until you get a position. Some of the Ed.S. curriculum was new information, some of it was repeating what we talked about, but we were able to put it into action and learn along the way."
Hurst had several courses during each degree program that prepared her to take on teaching math and her current role, including a data course taught by Dr. Sue Townsend.
"That wasn't something I really learned teaching," she said. "We received data reports on our students, but I really didn't understand how to read them. She taught us how to read through that information and make data-driven decisions based off of it.
"She really guided me in that aspect. That's the reason I am in the position I am in today. I was able to read the data, understand it and apply it, so they moved me into this position because I was doing a good job of it. That course really helped me."
In order to complete three degree programs and continue working through a fourth while working full-time, Hurst needed some help from her family.
"My husband [Matthew] has been very supportive," she said "He's probably the reason I have kept going. I knew I wanted to go back and get my specialist for administration, but the doctorate wasn't really something I was pushing toward, because I already had the degree in educational leadership and the license to become an administrator. He has definitely pushed me and said that I might as well keep going."
Hurst has walked in all three of her graduation ceremonies, and she plans to be on stage again, in cap and gown, to celebrate the completion of the doctoral program.
No matter if it was the bachelor's degree, educational specialist, master's degree or doctoral degree program, Hurst has the same philosophy for success at MC:
"Go in with an open mind, take good notes and as soon as you learn something, go try it in the classroom," she said. "The biggest thing for me wasn't to just learn it for the sake of getting a degree but to actually apply it. If something went wrong, I could go to the professors."
And, of course, don't worry so much about predicting the future.
Learn about the MC online Ed.S. -- K-12 Administration program.
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