The University of Connecticut’s Department of Educational Leadership (EDLR) is fortunate to have well-connected alumni who continue to work with the university, post-graduation or some who have returned after years of work in diverse professional settings. The “Staying in Storrs” highlights our talented EDLR program alumni and the work they are currently doing with UConn. This feature focuses on the Ed.D. Educational Leadership Program.
Dana Ziter is an academic advisor in the UConn School of Engineering for the Computer Science & Engineering department. She is not only an alumna who has “Stayed in Storrs” upon completing her degree, but she concurrently held a full-time position at the University during her tenure in the Ed.D. Educational Leadership Program.
Ziter began her professional career at UConn in June of 2014 as a Program Assistant with the School of Engineering. In 2015, she began her academic career with the university– entering into the Ed.D. Program. Approximately a year into the program, she moved into her current role as an advisor after she got to know the advising team through their use of the Computer Lab during orientation sessions. One of the previous advisors, who was leaving, recognized Ziter’s potential and encouraged her to apply for the position. After the successful defense of her capstone in 2018 and completion of the Ed.D. program, she was prepared for increased responsibility, and received a promotion to an Academic Advisor II status. She is confident that her doctoral degree has prepared her to take on larger leadership roles and continue an upward career trajectory.
Balancing student life with a professional career at the University was not always an easy feat, but through the support of her program cohort and the Educational Leadership faculty, she excelled in her coursework and research. She specifically credits Dr. Jennie Weiner, who was a consistent source of reassurance that she could be successful in both the program and her research. She also thanks her direct supervisors, George Assard, who supervised her during her role as a Program Assistant, as well as her current supervisor, Whitney Losapio, for supporting her career growth in every way possible. Additionally, her current advising teammates were critical supporters– allowing her to interview them for specific projects and use some of their day-to-day situations as part of her coursework and research.
“Both working in an institution and experiencing life as a student has provided me with priceless experiences as a leader, team member, student, facilitator, and most importantly as a listener. Many of our students just need to be heard and it has taken some diligent work on my part to be patient in listening– not just immediately jumping to possible solutions.” -Dana Ziter
Ziter was able to integrate her professional career with her capstone research as part of the Ed.D. Program, focusing on revising the University Academic Probation protocol and completing a research project on student grade outcomes in correlation with the revision. For this project, she used a regression discontinuity model to analyze the data– a complex model that she never imagined she was capable of. During her time in the program, she also got multiple opportunities to present her work on advising struggling students. She presented at the Region 1 NACADA CT Drive-In conference and annual UConn faculty advisor conference.
She is extremely thankful for the opportunities that her research provided as it allowed her to build connections with advisors and faculty members throughout the university. In working with the University Director of Advising, Dr. Katrina Higgins, on her capstone research she has been able to take on additional projects for the department, bringing insight from her professional and academic career to solve a diverse array of problems.
Overall, Ziter’s experiences both as a student and a professional have been extremely valuable, and she looks forward to the growth opportunities at UConn that her Ed.D. degree has made available.