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.”