The Right to Ask

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Betty Y. Ashbaker

Associate Professor, Counseling Psychology and Special Education


With my undergraduate degree I specialized in elementary and special education—particularly focusing on students with intellectual disabilities. Then I focused on students with learning disabilities for my master’s degree. But once I began working in the schools with students with a huge variety of disabilities, I knew there was much more that I needed to know. I wanted to learn how to help children with emotional and behavioral disorders.

Although I had a little one (pregnant with the second), and worked full time, I decided to go back to school for a PhD. My husband was supportive and we both believed the additional knowledge and education would help our own children—along with the students I taught. It was a time when women of the church were encouraged to stay home with their children, but I was convinced that my action was important and that it would bless the lives of many. Each woman has the right to ask the Lord what is best for her, so, along with my husband—I did that. My bishop encouraged me, as did my parents. And I had wonderful role models of other women who were mothers and who had earned their PhDs several years prior.

Now, many years later, my three children have an appreciation for education. (Our baby girl was born the same year my dissertation was delivered!) Every month or so I meet with three of the women who served as such great examples of parenthood, work ethics, and models of women with PhDs in education. I have a tremendous love for each of them.

My most important role in life is being a mother and wife and my education has aided me in being the best that I can be. Looking back I can say there were few, if any, obstacles to overcome. I believe it was because I was doing what I was destined to do. The Lord had guided me and blessed me.

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