Making a difference with young people drives Ed.D. student Galarza-Espino

Making a difference with young people drives Ed.D. student Galarza-Espino
June 23, 2010

Phil Brozynski, Media Relations Manager
(630) 829-6094

6232010_kindlonjun2010jpgCatherine Galarza-Espino is not letting the past get in the way of her future.

Due to family and personal circumstances, the former Chicago resident and Lane Tech graduate needed 13 years to complete an undergraduate degree. She went on to earn a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) at a Chicago-area university, then took some time off to re-charge her batteries. 

Last August, Galarza-Espino returned to the classroom to pursue a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Higher Education and Organizational Change at Benedictine University.  

“After taking a year off, I decided to invest in a doctorate degree,” Galarza-Espino said. “Both the degree and the accelerated program at Benedictine interested me, I met with the program director and here I am.”

The Benedictine Ed.D. degree is a three-year, accelerated program that combines online and onground elements. It is intended for practicing professionals who wish to accelerate their career paths or who seek to join the higher education community as university, college or community college administrators.  

The program is under the direction of Sunil Chand, Ph.D., who served as president of College of DuPage (COD) from July 2003 through May 2008, and Eileen Kolich, Ph.D. It is delivered at the University’s main campus in Lisle and online. Students are organized into learning teams and progress through the program at the same pace.  

Teams at the University meet on designated weekends (8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays) approximately every third weekend for 16 weekends per year through the first two years. The rest of the coursework is conducted online. Students take one course at a time and each course lasts six weeks.  

Galarza-Espino opted for the accelerated three-year Ed.D. program so that she could move forward in her career as soon as possible.

“I’m not a 20-something anymore,” said Galarza-Espino, 41, who is married with a college-aged son and works full-time while pursuing her doctorate. “I want to be able to finish faster, so I chose the accelerated three-year program as opposed to a five- or six-year program.”  

However, Galarza-Espino pointed out that “accelerated” does not mean that course material is abbreviated or the workload is lessened. 

“Anybody who decides to go into an accelerated program should be aware of what they’re getting into,” she said.  

During the first year of Benedictine’s Ed.D. program, students complete foundational courses that provide a strong knowledge base in the principles and practices of doctoral study, higher education and organizational change. In the second year, study advances to current issues in students and student services, curriculum, teaching, learning and resource management.  

Work begins on the internship and dissertation from the first year so that students may complete requirements in approximately 36 months. The internship may be completed concurrently with later coursework and the dissertation. By the third year, students are actively engaged in completing a dissertation.

“The program is intended for people with the experience and ambition to lead and manage change, to build professional and personal networks, to expand the field of knowledge and to contribute to the continued strengthening of our fast-changing academic world,” Chand said.  

Galarza-Espino is presently employed as a manager of Program Services for a private Chicago-area university. Her previous positions included executive assistant for a non-profit organization and personnel officer for a state college.  

While she does not have a specific job targeted for her post-doctorate career, she wants to continue to work with students.  

“I do have a vision for myself,” Galarza-Espino said. “I don’t have a specific title or position in mind, but I want to stay in higher education and I want to be in administration, possibly in student services. 

“The part of my job I really enjoy involves working with students,” she added. “I get my energy from students. I want to work closer with students and make a difference for the better in higher education.” 

Galarza-Espino said that it is important to have a strong support system in place before beginning a doctoral program, particularly an accelerated program. 

“Any doctoral program is time-consuming,” Galarza-Espino said. “It’s important to have an understanding family. It is a huge financial commitment and a huge time commitment. But it is still important to find a balance between work, life and school.

“Another part of the reason I am succeeding is the support I have received from my colleagues in the program,” Galarza-Espino said. “The camaraderie, the relationships I have been able to build and just having someone to whom you can vent makes a huge difference.”  

For more information about the Ed.D. in Higher Education and Organizational Change program at Benedictine University or to apply, call (630) 829-6280.


Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois, and Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls nearly 10,000 students in 56 undergraduate and 19 graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the sixth consecutive year in 2016. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org). For more information, contact (630) 829-6300, admissions@ben.edu or visit ben.edu.