By Jennie Kroeger | April 6, 2017 | Posted in: COE Spotlights
Year at FSU: I started my Ph.D. in Spring 2014 and I plan to graduate in Spring 2019
Are you a member of any student/campus organizations? If so, which ones? I am a board member of Instructional Systems Students Association (ISSA) and I am the head of the reporting committee in ISSA.
What drew you to FSU COE? The Instructional Systems & Learning Technologies (ISLT) program is one of the top five programs in the nation, and even the world, in the field of instructional design and training. I had been following the work of ISLT’s great faculty members, including those at Florida State, when I was getting my first master’s degree in Malaysia. Being able to be a Ph.D. student in this program was an honor and a great goal for me that I had been pursuing. In addition to the great reputation of this program, its faculty, staff and students, COE, and Florida State University as a whole, were one of deciding reasons I chose to come to the U.S. and start my studies at FSU COE.
What is your favorite FSU COE memory? When I came to FSU, I did not have any funding or an assistantship, and you can imagine how difficult it is to survive financially for an international student with the cost of living expenses. Because I had four years of teaching experience, Dr. Vanessa Dennen offered me a teaching assistant position for her course, Introduction to Educational Technologies. When I heard the news that I was going to teach, I was thrilled and determined to go out of my way to be the best I could be. The interactions I’ve had with my students, my passion for teaching, and winning a 2016-2017 Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award are among my great memories at FSU COE so far.
I do however, want to mention one other memory that will stay with me forever. That is the memory of the support and kindness my wife and I received from President Thrasher, Dean Driscoll, Dr. Shute (my amazing Ph.D. advisor), Dr. Becker, Dr. Reiser, Dr. Dennen, and my students when the Iranian community was affected by the presidential immigration ban executive order. I received an email from one of my students a day after the order was implemented that said:
You said it yourself the very first day of class: we’re not our governments, we’re the people. Just, please don’t give up on us. We ARE trying. You have two families now, though: one back home and one here at FSU. We’ll do the best we can because that’s what family does.
I have to say, I get emotional every time I read these words and am grateful for all the kindness my wife and I received from this great community.
What’s the most valuable thing you learned or experienced at FSU COE? I have great role models here at COE. The professors are excellent at what they do in the college. Every class I’ve taken has taught me a lot, and I have been able to apply what I’ve learned from my classes and teaching models to my own class, resulting in a 2016-2017 Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award. Another important thing I’ve learned at FSU COE is the importance of being humble and successful at the same time. The faculty members in our program like us to call them by their first names rather than by their titles. We have great researchers in the college who are known worldwide, and yet they are very humble about their accomplishments. I hope to be as humble as they are when I achieve my goals in life.
Where do you see yourself five years from now? I am currently working with Dr. Valerie Shute as a research assistant on an National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded project. I hope to work hard and focus on research for the next two to three years. This project, among other learning opportunities here at COE, can give me the knowledge and skills I need to peruse my goals after graduation. My goal is to go back to Iran and work as a university professor, an active researcher in the field of learning technologies, and help improve my country’s educational system in any capacity I can. I still have a long way to go and I am trying to learn as much as I can to accomplish my goals.
What advice do you have for future FSU COE students? The following is what I say to myself everyday: Believe in yourself and your abilities. Know that with hard work and persistence you can achieve your goals. Know what you need to learn and set goals to learn those things. It all comes down to continuously following your dreams even if you don’t see any results at the moment. You get where you aim’aim high.
What is something interesting that not many people know about you? , . When I moved to Tehran (the capital city of Iran) from Mashhad (my hometown in Iran) to get my bachelor’s degree in Computer Software Engineering, I decided to work as a graphic designer and a multimedia specialist. Because I did not have any work experience, I was willing to work without a salary in order to gain experience. I worked one year for an advertising company without earning any money. After that year of hard work and learning, I did something impressive using 3D software that convinced my supervisor (Amir, who is now one of my closest friends) to pay me for the first time in my life. I still remember the green Iranian bills that were being transferred from his hands to my hands vividly (this happened nearly 12 years ago). I decided to buy a watch for myself and two watches for my parents with the money. All three of us still have and wear those watches. Whenever I check the time on my watch, I remember that accomplishment and feel good about it.
Would you like to share anything else? I want to thank the COE community, ISLT community, and especially my students who have been very supportive from the first day I came to this great institution. I also want to thank my wife and my family ‘ especially my parents ‘ who have always been, and continue to be, big sources of motivation and support in my life.