Bay Haven third grade teacher Rachel Mincey had no way of knowing when she began a three-year doctorate program at Florida State University in January 2018, the challenges she would face. A full-time job and two young children already kept her busy, but add Hurricane Michael and the pandemic to the mix, and most people would have certainly been overwhelmed. But challenges seem to energize this young teacher.
“My experience pursuing my doctorate was certainly not easy, and while there were challenges, I never wanted to quit,” said Rachel. “I never felt like it was harder than I could handle. This experience pushed me to my intellectual limits in a way that catalyzed growth; it transformed the way that I think about educational problems and my understanding of life in general.”
After graduating from Gulf Coast State College and then FSU Panama City, Rachel began working as an instructional paraprofessional at Tyndall Elementary School. Her first teaching position was at Bay Haven 11 years ago.
“In my senior high school yearbook, I wrote that one of my future goals was to get my doctorate,” said Rachel. “So even then, I knew that I wanted to pursue my education to its highest potential. Truly, I have a deep love for learning, and my intellectual interests span multiple disciplines. After I received the honor of Elementary Teacher of the Year for Bay Haven Charter Academy in 2017-2018, I felt that it was the perfect time to pursue my doctorate because I had been teaching for a number of years and believed that I had the experiences behind me that could prove useful for continuing my education and making a difference in the field.”
With successful defense of her dissertation in March and impending graduation in June, Rachel’s future is bright. She has accepted a summer position working with the Learning Systems Institute at Florida State University on a project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. She will help develop materials for the University of Zambia’s teacher preparation program. Rachel will spend a month in Lusaka, Zambia this summer and has an opportunity to teach a summer course at FSU-PC. “Aside from my present opportunities, I am excited to continue to make a difference in the field of education but also create a foundation that affords my own daughters the opportunities to explore their future dreams and live their unique potential,” said Rachel.
Rachel hopes her colleagues will be inspired to reach their highest potential. “If you have any desire at all that this is the path you want to take, you can do it!” said Rachel. “Your people will support you and hold you up so you can live your dream. The gratification in the pursuit arises from the difficulty and challenges you will face. That is the beauty in the process. Just a few years of life with an added challenge is well worth the impact it will have on your future not just because of the potential for making more money but because of how it changes your life. You will grow.”