Caitlin McMunn Dooley

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Georgia Department of Education, Deputy Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Atlanta, GA


Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, 2004


My UT experience prepared me well to become a professor. I co-taught courses for pre-service teachers, engaged with community organizations and schools, and assisted in research studies. I was especially thankful to have the experience as an editorial assistant for a faculty team of editors of a national research publication. That gave me a line of vision to the broader field and to publishing research. Another experience I especially enjoyed was working at a nearby elementary school as part of my role as a course instructor. I loved working with the kids and learned so much from Dr. Worthy and Dr. Roser about how to navigate this new role.

Why UT?

I came to UT Austin for the faculty. I found the faculty members’ names on the website and then found each faculty members’ research areas. From there, I contacted a few professors who had research areas similar to my interests and asked for informational interviews. I asked about their research and was so impressed with their friendliness, knowledge, and wisdom. I quickly decided that I would like their mentoring.

Life After UT

My experiences with research, editing research publications, presenting at professional conferences, teaching courses, and working with schools and communities started at UT have contributed to my success as a university professor. They created the foundation for my current work at Georgia State University, co-editor for Language Arts (a national journal), coordinator for our own PhD program, and Principal Investigator on several large grants. I couldn’t do the work I do now without this strong foundation and professional mentoring from such extraordinary faculty.

Advice for Current Students

Graduate studies is your journey! Own it! Take advantage of opportunities UT Austin offers. Be goal-minded as you prioritize which experiences to engage with. If you see yourself becoming a professor somewhere, do as much research as much as you can. You will have great mentoring at UT Austin!

Volunteer to take on leadership roles in the program.  These roles will prepare you to engage with national and international professional organizations–an extraordinarily thrilling and meaningful service you can provide to improve educational opportunities for all.

Finally, read. Read. Read. And read some more. Write about what you read. Talk about what you read. This is one of the few times when you are regularly handed great texts and have time and people to talk with about important topics. Take advantage of this time. It’s precious!