Lifelong Learners Insights
Speaking from the Heart
Presidential Fellowship Recipient
When Heidi Evans was 5 years old, her uncle introduced her to sign language. She recalls that the first sign she learned was for the word “turtle.” More importantly, she remembers that his short visit would change her life. “I was awed,” says Evans, now a student in Walden University’s Ph.D. in Education program. “Not simply by the fact that it was possible to speak with your hands, but because I had never known that there were people in the world who couldn’t hear.”
Years later, Evans would become a teacher for hearing-impaired children and would be honored in 2001 by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as one of the region’s top teachers. That same year, she would achieve another milestone in her life—completing her M.S. in Education with a specialization in Integrating Technology in the Classroom from Walden.
“Earning my master’s degree at Walden was a wonderful experience for me,” Evans says. “Once I decided to pursue a doctorate, Walden was the logical choice. I find Walden’s programs to be rigorous, challenging, and motivating. I know that when I am finished, I will have truly earned this degree.”
Currently, Evans is focusing her doctoral research on ways to assist parents to work more effectively with their children who have hearing impairments. She has designed an interactive PowerPoint presentation, developed in her doctoral program, to provide parents with simple but effective communication strategies. She has also conducted workshops and training sessions to test and improve her learning materials, which she hopes to share with teachers and administrators.
“Heidi has a vision to help children with hearing impairments develop language-rich lives so they can function better in their worlds,” says Dr. MaryFriend Shepherd, a Walden faculty member and a mentor to Evans. “Her work is full of her passion to help children by helping their parents and caregivers.”
Evans credits her mentor, and other Walden faculty, in supporting and encouraging her through the doctoral program. One of the best practices she has taken from the program is the importance of remaining in contact with those who are more knowledgeable and skilled, as they are often the source of new inspirations for her.
For those who are considering a doctoral program, Evans offers this analogy: “I think earning a doctoral degree is something akin to creating a statue out of a block of marble—you have to just keep chipping away at it until you arrive at a final work to which you can feel proud to sign your name.”
Evans has much to be proud of already, but looks forward to the time after graduation when she can widen the scope of her efforts. “Too many children with hearing loss are severely delayed academically and socially by the lack of effective language skills,” she says. “Early intervention is crucial. I hope to reach out to those who have the power to effect positive change for these children—their parents and caregivers.”
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