About Marilyn Gardner Milton
Marilyn Gardner Milton’s career in education began when she entered college. Her first steps towards this career choice were accomplished when she graduated from the University of Connecticut with her Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Education. After finishing her time at UConn, she continued her education by splitting her Masters of Education (M.Ed) between Boston State College and Framingham State University, both based in and around the Boston, Massachusetts area. In 1987 Marilyn finished the journey to earn her Ph.D. She graduated from Boston College with her Ph.D. in Educational Administration and Supervision as well as a minor in Computer Science. While both degrees would be of great use in her future, Marilyn wasn’t quite done yet. She finished her education by getting her Juris Doctorate (J.D.) from Suffolk University Law school, where she was also awarded the American Jurisprudence Award for Excellence: Commercial Law.
In 1985 Marilyn Gardner Milton made her first foray into the world of distance learning administration, as well as the first of her roles consulting. She became the Executive Consultant for The Center for Educational Leadership and Technology and held that position until 1995. In 1994 Marilyn became the Executive Director and the Director of Education at the Boston, Massachusetts based Computer Museum, a position she held until 1997. In 2006 she became Director of Business Development for the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), a position she holds to this day.
In 1997 Marilyn began her career in the administration of higher education institutes. She was appointed to be the Vice-President of Academic Affairs for the Massachusetts Communications College and the New England Institute of Art. In 2001 she became the Vice-President of Academic Affairs for Bay State College and in 2006 she became a Program Professor and Education Enterprise Associate for Nova Southeastern University, one of the largest non-profit accredited universities in the country. A position she holds to this day.
I’m feeling inspired and reflective from the greatest graduation speeches of all time. I’ve written about the four truths from Joyce DiDonato, the story of success from Ellen DeGeneres, the importance of choosing kindness from Jeff Bezos, and the lesson of perseverance from Former President Obama. This month, I’m writing about Shonda Rhymes’ commencement speech at Dartmouth College in 2014.
The famous television producer, Shonda Rhymes, gave the 2014 commencement speech at her alma mater, Dartmouth College. Her frank, straightforward style of speaking was an inspiration to all the students, family, and faculty in the audience.
Rhymes discusses dreams. She mentions that even though dreams are nice to have, they are only just dreams. Without the hard work and determination, they will never be more than just a dream. She uses her own experience as an example. She never dreamed of being the famous television producer she is today. She wanted to with a Nobel Prize like the author Toni Morrison. She worker like crazy to make that happen. She realized she couldn’t be Toni Morrison because that person already exists and wasn’t about to give up her title anytime soon. This made her realize, you can either spend your time dreaming, or you could do.
Lesson two from Rhymes is that the day after graduation is the worst day ever. College is the best time of your life and the real world is scary. To the rest of the world, once you graduate with your degree, you’re now at the bottom of the heap. You may think you’re taking the world by storm, that all doors will be open to you, but you’re wrong.
This all sounds daunting and quite the opposite of inspirational, but Rhymes goes on to clarify her point. Every graduate sitting in that audience was lucky. She wanted to remind them to have perspective. Not everyone in the world has the opportunity to earn an Ivy League degree and live the life they lived for the past four years. Now is their time to pay it forward. She urges these recent graduates to find a cause they love and devote their time to it.
The last lesson she gives is that it’s okay to not have it all together. Many people ask her “How do you do it all?” and her answer is simple: she doesn’t. It’s a gentle reminder that no matter how successful you become, there will always be times when you don’t succeed. And that is okay. It keeps you humble and allows you to take a step back and look around. What are you doing that you could be doing better? There is something to learn with every curveball life throws at you.
Her final words are “be brave, be amazing, be worthy.”
A few weeks ago, I came across a list of the greatest graduation speeches of all time. They were inspiring and made me reflect. Last month, I wrote about Joyce DiDonato’s speech at Juilliard’s 2014 commencement ceremony. This month, I’m writing about Tulane’s 2009 commencement speech by Ellen DeGeneres.
When Ellen DeGeneres graduated high school, she didn’t attend college like many of her other classmates. Instead, she began working odd jobs such as shucking oysters, bartending, painting houses, and selling vacuum cleaners. She didn’t know what she wanted to do and didn’t have a clear plan.
When she was 19, a tragedy struck her life. She was living in a poor, basement apartment with barely any belongings to call her own. Her mattress laid on the floor and the place was flea-infested. One day she was driving down the road, she passed a horrific car accident. Later that night she found out it was her partner that was in the crash and she had passed away.
She didn’t understand why this was happening to her, so she began to do some soul-searching. She thought, wouldn’t it be nice if she could just pick up the phone and ask God why? Instead, she decided to start writing. She wrote what her phone call with God would be like if she was able to give him a ring. Little did she know, this is what would become her big break. A few years later, she was on the Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show performing this one-sided phone call.
After a few years in the industry, she came out to the public, not for any political reasons but to free herself from the heaviness of living in shame and hiding her secret in fear of displeasing others. Through this, she experienced another incredibly difficult hardship. She lost her career, became isolated from friends and family, and wasn’t able to secure any job offers. During this challenging time, she was receiving letters from people, kids, who were ready to commit suicide because of who they loved, and it was Ellen’s bravery that had stopped them. One of the hardest times in her life showed her that she had a purpose on this earth.
In hindsight, Ellen wouldn’t change a thing that happened to her. She had to lose everything to make her realize what was truly the most important thing in life: being true to yourself. She no longer lives in fear and doesn’t carry any burdens of hiding secrets.
When she was young, she thought success meant becoming rich and famous, but she realized that the image of success changes as your grow. She sees success now as living your life with integrity, being an honest and compassionate human being, and finding a way to contribute to the world around you.
Millennials, also known as Generation Y, have grown up in the era of technology. With the internet always at their fingertips, it’s no wonder they have adapted to learning differently than the generation that came before them. Educational institutions are beginning to take note of this however they are not adjusting quickly enough. Generation Z is only just around the corner from entering into higher education, and they will be even more plugged-in than the Millennials. So what are the Millennials doing to change higher education and what do these educational institutions need to do to adjust for the future?
Increase in the Popularity of Master’s Degrees
Millennials are not satisfied with just an Associate’s or a Bachelor’s degree anymore. With limited job opportunities awaiting these [people] when they finish their undergrad, many are opting to stay in school to complete a Master’s program before entering the real world.
According to Pew Research Center, professionals with a Master’s degree are earning 23% more today than their counterparts back in 1984. In comparison, those who only hold a Bachelor’s degree have seen an increase of just less than 13%. Bottom line: if a Millennial has their goals set on earning more money in their career, they are going to be looking for a Master’s program.
A Comfort in Online Learning
Some may argue that today’s youngsters know more about the internet than we do. With that, there is no surprise that they find learning online to be comfortable and natural. Roughly 6.7 million students are taking at least one online class during their time in college. And that doesn’t account for all the classes they’re taking that use online portals such as Blackboard to submit work, collaborate with classmates, and even complete quizzes or exams. Millennials have helped build this switch from learning in the traditional classroom setting to online, and Generation Z will demand it.
Getting Millennials to participate in the traditional classroom setting can be difficult. The flipped classroom allows the student to become the teacher, encouraging high involvement and collaboration with their classmates. According to a study performed by NYU, the retention rate of students soared to 90% when they were put in a teaching role. The flipped classroom puts students in control of their educational journey and provides a more hands-on learning perspective.