Denise Demers | COEHS | SIU

Southern Illinois University

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Health Education and Recreation

Denise Demers

Hometown: Orem, Utah
Department: Health Education and Recreation
Year: Thrid year Doctoral
Research Interests: Family health

Q: How did you get into the Ph.D. program?

A: My husband lost his job three years ago and I was an adjunct teacher at Lake Land Community College in Mattoon, Illinois. Actually I taught at a satellite campus of Lake Land in Effingham, where our family resides. I originally received my bachelor’s degree in physical Education from Southern Utah University and my master’s from Brigham Young University in Health and Fitness Promotion. Because of our situation, and the low pay for an adjunct teacher at a community college, I decided to apply for a doctoral program. I have a friend that teaches at Eastern Illinois, and he encouraged me to apply at SIU. My plan was to study all summer for the GRE and take it in the fall of 2009, then, apply for the doctoral program for the following fall. I called the Health Education and Recreation department at SIU and found out they didn’t require the GRE to apply for the doctoral program at the time, they since have added that requirement. The person I talked to told me they have a late registration program, the program only accepts 10 students but I could still try. I had two weeks to get everything together to submit my application. We had a family vacation planned for the end of May, but just before we left, I received a provisional acceptance letter from SIU for the fall of 2010. It was a great surprise.

Q: What do you like most about the HER department?

A: The people in the department are very helpful and accommodating. Even though the professors are understaffed and overworked, their office is open and they will always be willing to help. I feel very comfortable with all the people in the department.

Q: What do you like most about SIU?

A: Since I live in Effingham and commute to campus, I’m not here enough to really take part in the activities on campus. I have great fondness for the people I’ve met on campus and enjoy that aspect of the SIU community.

Q: What do you like most about Carbondale?

A: Again, I’m not here much during the week, though I received an assistantship this year and spend more time in Carbondale now. I love taking the train to and from Carbondale. It’s a joy to get on the train and be able to work, relax, or sleep for the 2 hour trip from Effingham to Carbondale and vice versa.

Q: What do you do in your spare time?

A: With family responsibilities, assistantship and doctoral work, I don’t have much spare time. Any days I have open, I spend with my 4 children, ages 15 to 7, and husband. It’s been hard, especially on my daughter since I received the assistantship. It means I’m gone more days and have to take 3 classes a semester, instead of 2 classes like I did the first semester of the program. I know, though, when I finish the doctoral program, I will hopefully be able to get a tenure track position at a university and be home, at least every night. That’s the goal for this sacrifice.

Q: What are a couple of your best memories that stand out from experiences at SIU?

A: The first day I came to SIU to see the campus and met several of the people in the department. It was in the summer and I was a little scared and anxious about this big step in my life. The first person I met was Dr. Kittleson, who has since moved to the New Mexico State University. He was so warm and helpful in answering my questions and my anxiety level decreased immediately. I then was sent to meet Pat McNeil to ask about assistantships. There were none available at the time, but Pat was so encouraging, helpful and has such a positive, motivational outlook towards my study, she made me feel that I could accomplish this program and succeed. She really got me excited about coming to SIU. I then met Dr. Fetro, the Department Chair of Health Education and Recreation. These three people helped quell any anxiety and helped me feel like I was on the right track with this decision. I love having that as my beginning point for this PhD experience.