When Susan T. R. Eramo receives her EdD in May, she is sure to be thinking of her husband, the father of their eight children, ages 21 to 37, who passed away during the final year of her doctoral program. “He would have been happy to know that I will be the recipient of the Doctorate of Higher Education Leadership Award for Overall Excellence which encapsulates the personal goals I set for myself, and achieved in this program,” she writes, “none of which could have been done without my faculty, and specifically, the expert guidance of my major advisor, Dr. Heather Maietta.”
Apparently, the appreciation cuts both ways. “Every student who comes through the EdD changes you in some way,” Dr. Maietta observes. “Sue will leave an indelible mark on our program and me. I mentored Sue as I am mentored by the EdD program chair Dr. [Priscilla] Boerger: challenging, supporting, and trusting. The field of higher education grew stronger as a result of her contribution to scholarship, and I gained a lifelong friend.”
Although Susan taught computer programming and database applications to elementary and middle school students part-time and did some private math tutoring on the side, she did not originally set out to become a teacher. As an undergraduate at Assumption College in Worcester, she pursued a business degree in accounting, then established a successful career in accounting, computer operations and data security.
Near the end of her MBA program at Assumption, Susan was pregnant with her third child and planning to take time away from her corporate career. “It was also then [that] one of my professors saw my potential for teaching (although I had never been formally trained in education) and asked me if I would be interested in teaching a couple courses as a temporary adjunct” she recalls. “That’s where my career in higher education started but it didn’t end there.”
As her family grew, Susan left her job. A decade later, she returned to teaching in continuing education and the MBA program, both of which she had graduated from, leading to her present adjunct roles at her alma mater and Fitchburg State University. While Susan pursued her MBA, her mother asked if she would add a doctoral degree. “It was the power of suggestion but it had to be done at the right time in my life,” she explains. “With my children grown and my experience in higher education, the time was right.”
The right place for Susan, who attended Catholic school from kindergarten through college, was Regis where she found the program design and student demographic of the EdD program a good fit. For her dissertation, “Preserving the Integrity of Online Quantitative MBA Courses Through Academic Honesty,” Susan studied the problem from a faculty perspective and developed “a theory that can be used to preserve integrity of online MBA courses by enforcing academic honesty.”
Integrity and faith informed this first generation student’s educational perspective from the start. Even as a tutor, she described her motivation “was to get a student to understand and love mathematics, which I see as the most spiritual of subjects aside from theology.” She defers a question about future plans, instead observing, “For me, it’s important to reflect and thank God for all the dreams that have already come true for me.”