“Getting my degree from Ashford helped me to understand what education is about.”
You may recall the famous soft drink jingle, “I’d like to teach the world to sing.” Latonya Dukes would like to teach the world to learn. The 2015 Ashford University graduate has dedicated much of her life to helping people become more educated, whether that meant tutoring elementary school children, or training her co-workers in Microsoft Office. Education was her passion, even though it wasn’t her career.
In 2012, Dukes, who had earned a degree in organizational management and was working as a supervisor for a sheriff’s department, decided it was time to make her passion her profession. She knew her journey started with earning a degree.
“Without my education, I’m not getting everything I need to help others,” she said at Ashford’s 2015 Fall Commencement ceremony. “In order to be a leader, you need to gain knowledge to help your followers. You need to help them grow until one day they want to be leaders.”
After exploring her options around her hometown of West Palm Beach, Florida, Dukes chose to pursue her Master of Arts in Education at Ashford, knowing that the online format would allow her to balance school, work, and her home life – which includes twin 8-year-old boys. At the same time, Dukes was volunteering in after school programs to help kids whose parents couldn’t afford tutoring. This activity allowed her to apply what she was learning in school immediately to her volunteer efforts.
“I wanted to help the kids that need more tutoring,” she said. “With more hands-on experience you’re able to lead the kids in the right direction, and give them the proper information they need for whatever issue they have.”
Becoming a better tutor wasn’t Dukes’ only reason for going to college. Her ultimate goal is to open her own charter school and provide parents an alternative to public schools. It’s a booming industry in Florida; the state’s Department of Education estimates that since 1996, the number of charter schools statewide has surged from 5 to 615, with enrollment topping 229,000 in 2014.
For Dukes, who was making the leap into education from a completely different career, having a Master’s degree would allow her to map out a plan for her future.
“Getting my degree from Ashford helped me to understand what education is about,” she said. “All of the avenues, any obstacles that are in my way, the knowledge to help others gain knowledge – without going to school I wouldn’t have that experience, I wouldn’t have the knowledge to help someone else.”