Andrea Wirgau has worked at Ferris State University since 2010 when she started her
work with the Doctorate in Community College Leadership program. During her time at
Ferris, Wirgau has also played a key role in the development of the Extended and International
Wirgau, DCCL assistant director, recently sat with News Services to discuss what she does with the DCCL program and why it is special to her.
News Services: Can you briefly describe the Doctorate in Community College Leadership program?
Andrea Wirgau: This program is designed for working professionals in community colleges to earn their doctorate (Ed.D.) in three years. These individuals have the desire to become leaders in their institutions and to become catalysts for change. While many of these men and women desire to become vice presidents and/or presidents of a community college, there are a variety of positions suited for those who graduate.
NS: What do you believe makes this program special?
AW: The DCCL staff is uniquely situated to provide great professional support and services for DCCL students to successfully journey through the doctorate program. It is a cohort-based model that utilizes a hybrid approach to delivery so that one can obtain their doctorate while still maintaining full-time jobs. This is not an easy feat.
NS: Would you briefly describe your role with the program?
AW: I am the assistant director. I do a number of things that support the program ... from national recruitment to student academic services.
NS: What is it like to watch students successfully work their way through the program?
AW: We do not only watch. We are closely intertwined with the students’ journeys. So, it is very satisfying to see them walk across the stage. I am humbled, honored and excited to be a part of their lives at this point.
NS: What is the most satisfying part of your job?
AW: To assist a student overcoming a barrier and to see them successfully complete aspects of the program that they may not otherwise have been able to do if not given holistic consideration. We see so much happen in the three years that the student chooses to attend Ferris State University. It is like watching a loved one graduate every year. Tears are a common part of my job.
NS: What advice would you give to someone going through the program?
AW: To decide what the reason is that they chose to enter the program and then to focus on that goal when the going gets tough. Reach out and ask questions instead of only hoping it will turn out OK. This is not a time to be silent and stand by. Get to know each professor, individually, and NEVER assume anything.
NS: Why should graduates consider this program?
AW: Someone should consider this program if they believe passionately about community
college education, have experience working at a community college and they know they
want to make a difference in the lives of students and in the world of community colleges.
It is an awesome opportunity to be a part of the change you wish to see.
This question-and-answer interview was compiled by Kaitlyn Baase, a News Services and Social Media student writer in University Advancement and Marketing.