February 2, 2004 - Naples Daily News: Alverna Eriksson, 80, joined the Peace Corps and went to Haiti during the coup came back, and left again for Nepal, where she taught nursing

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Haiti: Peace Corps Haiti : The Peace Corps in Haiti: February 2, 2004 - Naples Daily News: Alverna Eriksson, 80, joined the Peace Corps and went to Haiti during the coup came back, and left again for Nepal, where she taught nursing

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-141-157-42-145.balt.east.verizon.net - 141.157.42.145) on Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - 11:19 pm: Edit Post

Alverna Eriksson, 80, joined the Peace Corps and went to Haiti during the coup came back, and left again for Nepal, where she taught nursing



Alverna Eriksson, 80, joined the Peace Corps and went to Haiti during the coup came back, and left again for Nepal, where she taught nursing

At 80, Eriksson strives to complete doctoral program

By MARCI ELLIOTT, mrelliott@naplesnews.com
February 2, 2004

The view from Alverna Eriksson's window is breathtaking: a wide expanse of the Gulf of Mexico. Flawless, manicured landscaping. A neighborhood of high-rises where she lives on Gulf Shore Boulevard.

But Eriksson isn't looking out the window much these days.

She's usually immersed in the stack of textbooks on the table in the corner by the view.

"It's hectic. When I'm not at work, I'm either writing papers or working on the computer," she said. "Or reading these books."

Eriksson, 80, is one of 11 students enrolled in a doctoral program offered in Naples by Fort Lauderdale-based Nova Southeastern University.

Most of the students, including Eriksson, have completed their course work and are ready to start working on their dissertations.

After that, they'll be through and if successful, will be awarded a Doctorate of Education, or Ed.D., in Organizational Leadership from Nova.

"It's hard," said Eriksson, a psychiatric nurse practitioner who works 20 hours a week at the David Lawrence Center, a mental health agency on Golden Gate Parkway.

"But I wanted to do this because I'm always looking for challenges. I've been that way for years," she said. "One of my goals is to teach, and most places prefer a doctorate for that. With an Ed.D., you can do almost anything."

Warren Heltsley, Naples site coordinator for Nova's Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership program, says the degree is so flexible that men and women in a variety of professions can benefit by it, either by advancing to a higher level, trying something new or improving what they're already doing.

"This degree is about three years old in general, and it's one of the fastest-growing programs Nova has," Heltsley said. "It not only reaches out to teachers, but to business, law enforcement, health care, just about anybody in administration or management."

Nova Southeastern University is going around the world with this and other programs, Heltsley said. It is already in Athens, Greece; Argentina; South and Central America; the Caribbean Islands; several European countries; and others.

"They're trying to get one going in China," said Heltsley, also the continuing education coordinator for Edison Community College's Collier County campus in East Naples.

Nova officials came to Naples in June 2002 to introduce the new Ed.D., which, unlike doctorates in educational leadership, is more flexible and applicable to many fields.

The Ed.D. emphasis is on practice while the Ph.D. emphasizes research, said Edna Suarez-Columba, a Nova site administrator.

Another cohort of the Nova Ed.D. is being started in Bonita Springs this month, with former Lee County School Board member Jane Kuckel as site coordinator.

Fifteen students began in Heltsley's cohort in August 2002. Of those, 11 are still in the program, and three are doing the program completely online. Heltsley is in the cohort himself.

The others have done a combination of online and on-site course work, and now are ready to tackle their dissertations.

About half of them are taking a fast-track version, which allows them to take an extra course each semester to shorten the overall time required for the program.

Eriksson is on the fast track.

"I did this before, when I was working on a master's degree," she said. "I just want to get it over with."

Being 80 is no deterrent to her. And she advises others not to let it stop them from learning, too.

She didn't become a registered nurse until she was a grandmother, and she went on to earn a master's degree in nursing after that.

Two years after her husband, Conrad, died in 1989, Alverna Eriksson joined the Peace Corps. She went to Haiti during the coup came back, and left again for Nepal, where she taught nursing.

She learned to speak fluent Haitian-Creole and Nepali. The Haitian-Creole comes in handy in her work, Eriksson said.

She has a daughter who lives in Longwood, an Orlando suburb, and has two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Eriksson retired three times, but got bored, she said. Which explains the Peace Corps, going back to school, and now, the Ed.D.

"Learning keeps me from being bored. It keeps me young and my mind active," said the soft-spoken, blue-eyed Eriksson, wearing a pink suit with matching pumps for an interview.

Her next challenge, in addition to teaching, is a possible business deal with a friend in Haiti.

He wants to set up a mental health clinic there, similar to the David Lawrence Center, and he wants Eriksson to be the administrator.

She's thinking about it.

Her Ed.D. will boost her credentials.

If she had known it would be this hard to pursue it, she said, she probably wouldn't have plunged into it.

But it will be worth it, she said.

"I've learned a lot. And one thing is really important: You're never too old to learn," Eriksson said. "I didn't think I could do it. But here I am, almost finished."

For more information about the Doctorate of Education, or Ed.D., offered by Nova Southeastern University in Naples, call Warren Heltsley at (239) 594-7732 or (239) 777-1181.




Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Naples Daily News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Older Volunteers; COS - Haiti; COS - Nepal; Nursing

PCOL10036
04

.


Add a Message


This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.
Username:  
Password:
E-mail: