Miranda Grant was miles away from home when she had an awakening that would set the course of her career. She was interning with an eco-adventure and volunteer company in Ecuador as part of her undergraduate degree in recreation and tourism. It allowed her to dabble in curriculum development for a school near Riobamba.
"I helped design and start a program with the tribes in the Amazon that wanted to build a school for their kids to learn English," Grant explained. "So, I wasn't teaching English, but I helped establish the footprint for a school."
She then moved to Changwon, South Korea, where she taught English as a second language for a year. The experience further solidified her passion for seeing the world while developing her skills as an educator. Enrolling in the online Master of Education (M.Ed.) – Adult Education program from Eastern Washington University (EWU) gave those skills a boost.
Her past experiences prepared her for her position on cruise ships, teaching passengers how to use Windows-based applications and programs. The job has allowed her to combine her love of travel with her passion for teaching. She hopes to be back out on the open waters before long — this time as a student, too.
Change of Direction
Grant's first term with EWU coincided with the pandemic shutdown. Her planning for the potential issues of completing a graduate degree from ships at sea is serving her well on land.
"I'm in contact with the program director, Dr. Ann Van Wig, all the time," Grant said. "She's been incredibly supportive and has reaffirmed that [EWU is] willing to work with me whatever situation comes my way."
The decision to manage school at sea was a bold one and will require effort and planning, but the online format provides Grant the flexibility she needs. She considers travel central to her lifestyle, and EWU's M.Ed. program is helping spotlight her areas of interest.
"It's most likely going to involve getting into curriculum design," said Grant, whose bachelor's degree is from Western Washington University. "Remote learning is just going to keep growing. That's going to be the industry that I'm aiming for."
Adopting New Methods
With an emphasis on evidence-based research, the EWU online M.Ed. – Adult Education program incorporates strategies and techniques that benefit teachers across a broad range of post-secondary educational roles.
Grant cited courses like EDUC 522: Transformation of Teaching & Learning as providing useful information on how to approach students of all types. Also, she noted the value of the Philosophy/Organization of American Schools course (EDUC 507).
"Wrapping my brain around a lot of the philosophical ideas and how they relate to education required really thinking outside of the box and then trying to apply them to something that's always been in a box," she added.
An internship with BioPrep Solutions allowed her to further understand curriculum development. The company teaches businesses like restaurants and hotels about operating with the added precautions of COVID-19 and equips them with strategies to help prevent the spread of disease.
Life Less Ordinary
While Grant's decision to go back to school may have been a surprise for her family, their response has been nothing but positive. They have grown accustomed to her traveling the world as an experienced cruiser.
"Everyone's extremely supportive and happy that I'm doing this. They think it's a really great next step," she said.
Grant's lifestyle choice is full of surprises and requires her to remain prepared for anything. Cruises can last from one week for short hops to 180 days for around-the-world itineraries.
"I'll be out on a ship for three to four months at a time, and then I'll have one to three months off in each contract. So, in my four months, I can work a lot of different cruises. Last year, I did a 30-day cruise up the Amazon River to South America," she said.
So, when the ships are sailing again in April, as Grant expects, she'll be back out on the open seas teaching Windows Security or Paint 3D during the day. Each night, she'll complete her graduate assignments and send them back to EWU.
Grant advises prospective students to ask professors for help with anything, big or small. She adds that the program can be challenging but fulfilling for those who stay on top of their assignments.
Talk about an even keel!
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