One year after completing her doctoral defense over Zoom, Dr. Michele Chronister will address Millersville’s graduating classes of 2020 and 2021. When the University called and asked that she deliver this year’s Moment of Reflection, she was pleased to be able to officially celebrate her accomplishment and honor the fortitude of the Millersville community at large.
“I feel so honored to be able to address everyone in such a challenging time,” says Chronister. “I got my Doctorate in Nursing Practice last year. To finally achieve your terminal degree and not be able to participate in the graduate ceremony was certainly defeating and sad.”
Chronister defended her doctoral dissertation from her home office via Zoom at the start of the pandemic. Chronister’s five children watched her defense on Zoom from different rooms of their home.
“At the end, they all came running in the office,” says Chronister. “It‘s sort of anticlimatic, but sort of special at the same time.” Despite the disappointment of needing to share her work virtually, Chronister was glad that friends and family were able to observe her defense, several of whom lived internationally or out of state.
Prior to receiving her master’s degree at Millersville, she obtained her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh. She then earned her doctorate from Millersville in 2020. Her daughter, Sarah Grace Mills, is currently a sophomore at the University.
“A year ago, I was prepared to talk about the great opportunity that I had to attend my last year at the university, as a student in my higher education with my daughter, who was a freshman. That was a really great experience, then all of a sudden it just came to a close,” says Chronister. “She was sent home and I didn’t get to graduate.“
Chronister knows the challenges of working, learning and teaching amidst a global pandemic. She continued to care for patients at Wellspan Health full time as a nurse practitioner during the pandemic. After completing her doctorate, she became an assistant professor at Millersville University, navigating a new position in the hybrid teaching environment.
“I’ve learned that there’s many times in life, that we feel overwhelmed, or we feel like giving up. But we have it within all of us to set goals, and to create small little goals to get there. It’s very inspirational to reach the finish line and know that you’ve had the support of Millersville University behind you, cheering you on, not letting you give up. I learned not to give up. And I’m glad I didn’t.”
“I would say to the undergraduates who are still on campus and learning virtually, that knowledge is power and to grab hold of everything in front of you, everything that is offered to you, and to never give up. Never be afraid to ask for help. We all need cheerleaders in our life, and whatever you put your mind to, you’ll be able to achieve it.
Chronister will deliver the Moment of Reflection to the master’s and doctoral degree candidates and their families on Friday, May 7.