"I’ve met some incredible professionals in education from other states that would not have been possible without this program."
Kelley Sells has seen many changes working with special needs children for almost a quarter century and knows that pursuing a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership degree at the University of Arkansas will help her keep up.
“I’ve met some incredible professionals in education from other states that would not have been possible without this program,” said Sells, the director of special education and school psychologist in the Dewey Public Schools in Dewey, Oklahoma. “To be able to collaborate with the University of Arkansas faculty and my fellow cohort members weekly has been beneficial to my personal and professional growth. The virtual class meetings cultivate an atmosphere of comradery and encouragement. By earning a doctorate in educational leadership, I will have the knowledge and the credentials to seek out my goals further and push my vision as far as I can.”
Throughout Sells’ 24 years of teaching in special education, the ways that special needs children are taught has changed considerably. The one thing that has not changed has been Sells’ desire to be an advocate and mentor for these children, she said.
Her journey to a doctorate has not been without its rough spots, Sells said.
“I chose to marry early, at 19 years of age,” she said. “In doing so, I became rooted in a town that had limited geographical college options. I have longed for the University of Arkansas degree since I was a child. The online program made that possible. The opportunity to earn my doctorate at the University of Arkansas in the Educational Leadership online program has seriously been a dream come true. Not only is the doctorate a triumphant closing to my educational journey, but that doctorate will come with the University of Arkansas prestige. I look forward to having my name carved into the sidewalk on that beautiful campus, forever to be an alumnus of the Razorback Nation.”
Sells is one of 23 people to receive the W.E. Manning Memorial Scholarship for online U of A students for the 2020-2021 academic year. She would someday like to work at or with collegiate level administrators to develop programs that provide the same educational opportunities to students with disabilities as their nondisabled peers.
“Being awarded the W.E. Manning Scholarship is an honor that I perceive to be a tremendous declaration that represents others’ beliefs in my dream and my ability to successfully serve this wonderful population of students with disabilities,” she said.