Tina Taylor Dyches
Professor, Counseling Psychology and Special Education
I grew up in a family that valued education. My paternal grandfather was orphaned at a young age and dropped out of school after eighth grade. He became a highly successful businessman regardless of his lack of formal education. My father attended college, but never earned a degree. My mother wanted to go to college to become a second grade teacher, but got married and began having children right out of high school. Because none of my parents or grandparents had earned a higher education degree, they wanted to assure that my siblings and I would be afforded opportunities for attending college, and due to their support and our determination, we all have earned advanced degrees.
However, I never imagined earning an advanced degree when I was completing my undergraduate work. As a matter of fact, I wanted to go into psychology but didn’t choose it as my major because I thought, “I won’t be able do anything with only a BS degree in psychology and I don’t want to go to more school after I finish my baccalaureate degree.” But only a year after I had completed my BS in Elementary and Special Education at BYU, I felt the strong desire to learn more. I wanted to be a better teacher and believed that additional schooling would help me to do so. I also knew that having an additional degree would help open more doors for me professionally. So, I earned my MS in Early Childhood Special Education from Utah State University, as well as my license for teaching young children with disabilities.
While taking classes for my MS degree, I was highly impacted by one of my instructors, Barb Fiechtl. She was an outstanding teacher—knowledgeable, inspirational, funny, practical, and she really cared about each of her students. Prior to having her as my teacher, I had had only one other female professor in my subject area. I looked at Barb and thought, “She is influencing so many lives with her work – far beyond the walls of a classroom. I can do this. I want to do this. I want to have an impact on the lives of many children with disabilities. I want to earn my doctoral degree.” So when my husband and I moved to Illinois, and for reasons we did not understand, we still did not have children, I decided to focus my efforts on earning my degree in Specialized Educational Development and Educational Administration from Illinois State University. I also earned my administrator’s license.
A family friend of ours, who never had much of a formal education, taught us, “Get your education. That is one thing they can never take away from you.” Our family believes this. You can lose your home, your spouse, your children, your possessions—but your education is something you can never lose. I believe God has prompted my family to earn our degrees so that He can place us in positions where we can have a broad and lasting influence on others. In this way I am trying to be an instrument in God’s hands, whether it is in the walls of my home, school, neighborhood, church, nation, or abroad.
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