The constant support Ericka Paddock ’06 ’15 receives from her family and friends — as well as a desire to never stop learning — propelled her to earn her doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Redlands.
“My family has done an amazing job of telling me that whatever I want to do is possible,” she said. “My friends and mentors, whenever I have ever said what I wanted to do, they were all on board right away. My husband is a saint, and the amount of support poured into my career is humbling and overwhelming at times because of the love and respect he has for me. I don’t know how I would have been able to accomplish any of this without having a group of people constantly telling me I can do this.”
Paddock has worked in higher education since graduating with her bachelor’s degree in communications from California State University, San Bernardino. She spent six years working in the student life office there, and decided it was time to get her master’s in management from the University of Redlands.
“It was really targeted to me in a sense, because it is all about interpersonal communication, leadership, and personal reflection, all skills I already possessed,” she said. “This was an opportunity for me to refine what I had as a leader and could help me advance to the next rung on the career ladder.”
She graduated in 2006, and was able to secure a position as director of student life at Crafton Hills College. At Crafton, Paddock is surrounded by “amazing people” who encourage one another to further their education. She watched as her boss, Dr. Rebeccah Warren-Marlatt, went through the EDD program at the University of Redlands, and became inspired to enroll herself.
“Being able to see both of the schools and see a different subject matter was very exciting to me,” she said. “In the School of Education, I was able to develop a whole new skill set. I learned about the K-12 system, Common Core, the laws that pertain to education. The faculty was really able to tap into things that I care about, like marginalized populations, achievement gaps of underserved groups, and gender issues.”
Paddock found her professors to be “phenomenal,” and “clearly experts in what they do.” She said her dissertation chair, Dr. Pauline Reynolds, helped improve her writing and “inspired me, pushed me, and did all the things you would expect someone to do when they are developing a person who is writing a dissertation.” She also has high praise for her cohort.
“We really connected in a way that made us sort of a family,” she said. “We accomplished milestones together, and had strong personal connections right from the very start. I feel really blessed to be part of this special group of individuals, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget what we went through.”
Paddock believes she was able to balance working while getting her doctorate because she always has to think two steps ahead; she is permanently disabled, and can remember even as a small child having to plan everything, including how to get out of a chair.
“I had to think, about where to put my hands and rest my legs, and because of that I believe I am very interested in and focused on organizing and planning, and that bleeds into my professional life,” she said. “I am always conscious of my surroundings, and having a physical challenge helped bring out a trait I already possessed innately.”
Paddock is grateful for the education she has received, and is looking forward to applying all of the new skills she has learned.
“I don’t take it for granted, and it’s not lost on me that my friends, parents, siblings, co-workers, everyone goes out of their way to make sure the dreams I have are possible and the only person stopping me from accomplishing those dreams is myself,” she said. “I try to incorporate a willingness to help that has been shown to me as a way to pay it forward when I work with students. The ability to help others is the Bulldog way.”