Fascinated by Computers in a Supportive and Excitement-Filled Environment

William Cocke
William Cocke

School of Computer and Cyber Sciences
Doctor of Philosophy with a major in Computer and Cyber Sciences

"The CCS program has some great researchers
who specialize in some fundamentals of computer and cyber sciences."

William Cocke hopes to one day be a professor. Living and working in Augusta, he decided to pursue his dream of graduate work at Augusta University. It turned out to be a fantastic decision because, as he says, “the growing PhD in CCS (Computer and Cyber Sciences) program at Augusta (University) provides a lot of opportunities to interact with professors.” He found it helpful and exciting to work “one-on-one with professors,” meeting with them “for research projects, independent study courses, professional advice, or office hours.”

Having recently submitted his first conference paper, he will present his paper in Paris at FoSSaCS (Foundations of Software Science and computation Structures) as part of ETAPS (European Joint Conferences on Theory and Practice of Software). His conference paper illuminates only one of the many opportunities to share what he has been learning and researching about new computer science “techniques and technologies.” His research springs from the school’s “ambitious vision” for future growth. Cocke says, “Every professor is willing to meet to discuss research, assist me with conference submissions, and give professional advice about job interviews.” With such a supportive and generous environment, no wonder Cocke is so excited about his future and that of the graduate programs in the School of Computer and Cyber Sciences.

William Cocke is enthusiastic about a future academic post that might combine teaching and research. While not every student coming out of an AU graduate program will become a faculty member in the future—and there are many other avenues open to Augusta graduates—William wants to become professor. He genuinely enjoys the culture of study and research. We wish him well in his graduate work at Augusta University and in his future pursuit of joining the academy.

Wanting to Learn but Needing Flexibility: This AU Advocate finds her perfect degree in the MAISS program

Monty Philpot Brock
Monty Philpot Brock

Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
Master of Arts in Intelligence and Security Studies

"There is no other program exactly like this in the country.
National and global politics, as well as United States national security,
have always been of great interest to me, so this program was a natural fit."

Monty Philpot Brock had long wanted to attend graduate school. Her late grandfather had encouraged Monty to pursue as much education as possible. Higher education had not an option for her grandfather, a WWII veteran who had fought at Normandy while a young man. While Monty’s grandfather had quite a different set of experiences in his younger years than those of Monty, his emphasis on education and learning remained a core value in Monty’s life.

Describing herself as an advocate for Augusta University and the MAISS program (Master’s degree in Intelligence and Security Studies), Monty Philpot Brock considers herself fortunate to have had the opportunity to study and to fulfill her lifelong dream. She writes, “As an advocate for Augusta University, I hope to send a strong message that I am not only advocating on behalf of our University and programs but also have chosen to be a consumer and invest in them.”

The MAISS program is designed for students interested in careers supporting strategic security policy and intelligence analysis as well as for those interested in career augmentation that might lead to advancements in military, law enforcement, or academia. According to Brock, the program has made a deliberate effort to make it possible for students to fully participate from anywhere in the world, which was one of the many reasons she decided to attend Augusta University. “There is no other program exactly like this in the country,” Brock writes.

Brock continued to work full time as she pursued her degree part time. Already, she has found that daily she uses the information she has learned. Brock writes that, “Professionally, I have a better understanding of what the federal government wants and needs in terms of national security policy experts, intelligence analysts and operators, and academic research. The MAISS program provided me with the tools and understanding to better [address] the needs of the federal workforce.”

Getting to know the charismatic and passionate faculty at AU enhanced the graduate experience for Brock. She felt that her instructors treated her as a professional, guiding her graduate study well. Brock found her instructors approachable for clarity of issues or expectations, and eager to answer her questions or help her solve problems.

“We often hear that national security and intelligence studies are needed to complement many careers and backgrounds,” Brock writes. “The fact that one cannot get something similar anywhere else, while there is a growing demand for this area of study, makes the degree even more valuable. My geography and professional commitments would have been a non-starter to be a full-time student in Augusta. Providing students with the opportunity to take classes both synchronously and asynchronously strengthens enrollment with respect to the type of students and professionals” who might participate in the MAISS program.

Brock balanced her workload for master’s degree against her career, which often called on her to travel. The MAISS program and Monty Philpot Brock’s studies in The Graduate School, gave her an opportunity to build her career, augmenting her knowledge and experience to better equip her for future interactions with government officials and academic and global leaders.

Taren David - A Triple Jag and Aspiring Principal

Taren David
Taren David

College of Education & Human Development
Education Specialist in Advanced Educational Studies

"I chose my particular program because I wanted to build upon my existing
knowledge and skills as an educator to enhance my teaching practices."

Ms. Taren David is driven to become the best educator she can be, knowing as much as possible about the field in part because she would like to someday be a school principal. She certainly seems on the right track. “One of the achievements that I am proud of was being a finalist last year for Teacher of the Year at my school. I was still an induction teacher at the time, so being on the ballot with veteran teachers was mind-blowing.” Last May, Ms. David won the award for Outstanding Graduate Student in Instruction among her peers. “I was thrilled when I found out my program voted for me … It was such an honor!”

Ms. David, “a Double Jag,” has both her undergraduate and master’s degrees from AU. Soon she will have her Specialist degree from the College of Education and Human Development. Already a caring and devoted teacher, she is thrilled that the AU Education Specialist degree in Advanced Educational Studies is fully online. She finds this a strength in the program. “I am incredibly involved at work with sponsoring several [student] organizations, so I needed a program that would allow me the flexibility to complete assignments on my own time.”

Ms. David chose her program because of her deep commitment to teaching. She writes, “I’ve always firmly believed that teachers should be active learners to adequately prepare our students for the future.” Her curiosity about instructional practices is clear as she talks about how to best implement new methods into the classroom or how best to facilitate student learning. “My source of motivation and drive comes from wanting to impact students positively. I want students to feel like they have a safe space” in her classroom or office. Even when students are at a loss for how to proceed with their educational expectations, Ms. David wants each student to feel comfortable coming to her for guidance and support. “I want to be remembered as a passional teacher whose goal was to develop the whole child. One who inspired students to dream big and who made students believe in themselves and the power of ‘YET’.”

When asked if she had advice for students interested in the Specialist program, Ms. David said she would tell them to “Go for it.” She has found the program “very rigorous,” and, at the same time, the professors have “in-depth knowledge of the field” while also understanding for meeting students where they are—as teachers, professionals, and students. The content provided is relevant, including “the necessary tools and resources to succeed in the profession.” And there are “a plethora of opportunities to apply what you are learning in class in your practice” of instruction. Ms. David represents a growing number of students interested in the Specialist program in Education at Augusta University and we are proud to have such a devoted and enthusiastic alumna of our AU graduate programs.

Steven Waldrop - A Family Mentor, a Leap of Faith, and a passion to Make the World Better

Steven Waldrop
Steven Waldrop

College of Nursing 

Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing

"At Augusta University, the faculty prioritizes student growth.
My faculty authentically cares about me both professionally and personally."

Like many students, Steven Waldrop, had a few lingering doubts before he hit “send” on his application to graduate school, but his hesitancy vanished with thoughts of his grandmother. Steven’s grandmother was an RN and like her, Steven wanted to provide care for the injured and sick. Steven, though, went a step further with a Ph.D. in nursing. His drive was “to improve patient outcomes and the bedside nursing experience” for RNs, like his grandmother, and all other nursing staff and faculty. When asked about advice to others who might be hesitating, he says “to take a leap of faith and apply.” Why? Because he’s learned that, with a Ph.D., he can have a greater impact on the profession and that this higher-level learning can “allow your strengths to impact others worldwide.” 

Steven knew that there was a need for more Ph.D. nurses and, coupled with the changing healthcare climate, it was the perfect time to follow in his grandmother’s footsteps. As Steven says, “As the healthcare environment rapidly changes, PhD prepared nurses are uniquely prepared to generate knowledge leading to vital clinical change. Additionally, the average age of nursing faculty is steadily increasing with a large portion of the workforce planning for retirement.” For nursing education to continue to meet growing demands of both this coming nursing shortage and an increasingly complex patient population, “more nurses must pursue PhD training.” 

Steven chose Augusta University’s doctoral Nursing program because, as he tells it, “1) Augusta University provides world class mentors to jumpstart your research portfolio and professional network, 2) Augusta University offers a flexible graduate experience tailored to each individual student's needs and career goals.” Steven goes on to say that he has found that the College of Nursing faculty members give a student’s growth priority and capitalize on individual strengths. The Ph.D. program in the College of Nursing “is world renowned for their contributions to the nursing profession.” The faculty are diverse allowing all their nursing students “the potential to substantially impact their patient population.”

Steven looks forward to being an independent clinical researcher. He is proud of his promotion to Clinical Data Specialist at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. In this role, he will “track NICU quality data and suggest opportunities for clinical improvement.” He credits his faculty mentors and the Augusta University’s College of Nursing with his success and preparedness for the job market. His grandmother would be proud.

John Rudenko - A Leader in So Many Ways 

John Rudenko
John Rudenko

Hull College of Business 

Master of Business Administration

"The people are what makes AU such a great place."

John Rudenko served in the military mostly because he wanted the “opportunity to have a positive impact on the people and world.” This theme in John’s life did not waiver as he entered the MBA program at AU. Why this program? Initially, John chose AU because it was nearby and “military friendly”, but he stayed because there was excellent student support, and the cost was reasonable. Once here, he “loved the campus, its surrounding area, and the proximity to downtown.” John enjoyed the “unique environmental design” along with the AU culture, one that brings people together. John’s MBA cohort brought together not just former military, but also doctors, engineers, athletes, and international students. He writes that he has “never once regretted my choice in choosing AU and moving to Summerville.”

During his studies at James M. Hull College of Business, John realized that his greatest skill did not lie in the technical aspects of business, but in leadership. He was good at “bringing people together and getting them to focus on achieving a goal.” This skill, valued at AU for all our students, will help John reach any goal he sets for himself and is needed and necessary in today’s business world. John found that it was the personal connections he made with classmates and instructors that helped him absorb and connect with the [course] material. And he took those same “teamwork and collaboration skills” and applied them to workplace scenarios. As he puts it, “The more we work together, the more effectively we work as an organization.”

Recently, John—soon to be a leader in his own right—successfully interviewed for his first career move. “During the interview for my current position, I performed exceptionally well because I was able to effectively discuss things like strategic positioning, growth trajectories, and organizational improvement. While I came in at an entry-level position, I am already being trained and mentored for a managerial role.” While thanking his wife for her support, he credits his training in the Hull MBA for his success, “a challenging but very rewarding two years.” More than once, John stressed the importance of having good relationships with his colleagues. “Everyone is together from beginning to end, and we learn just as much from each other as we do from the instructors.”