In celebration of Women’s History Month, the College of Education at TCU is highlighting female graduate students in the Science Education program. Ashley Titus, a science education doctoral student, discusses her transition from the environmental industry to education, navigating a male-dominated field and being a part of the Horned Frog community.
What is your background and what brought you to TCU?
My background is in environmental science. I worked in the environmental industry for several years for the State of Texas in regulation and in the private sector assisting with environmental planning and remediation. When I was working in the environmental industry, a major component of every position was related to education. Whether I was working with large facilities, landfills, farmers/ranchers, or transport companies most of the problems pointed back to a misunderstanding of the federal and state environmental regulations and more importantly the reasoning behind the creation of the regulations. I believe that larger environmental issues can be solved in the classroom by equipping students with environmental knowledge and agency.
What’s your favorite thing about your program at TCU?
My favorite thing about the Science Education program at TCU is the professors. Most of the students come from varied backgrounds and the professors are very supportive of our research interests. Additionally, the professors have pushed me outside of my comfort zone to discover who I am as an educator and in developing my own set of core beliefs surrounding education.
What are some obstacles you’ve faced along your career path so far? How did you overcome them?
The environmental industry has been historically male-dominated and that is thankfully changing. The biggest obstacles I faced in my career were being caught among the growing pains that come with an evolving field. I found that the best way to advocate for myself and other women co-workers was by engaging in uncomfortable informal conversations with co-workers who did not face the same challenges.
A pinnacle moment in my career was overhearing a 65-year-old male co-worker advocating for new mothers to have a designated spot in the office for nursing and promoting the value of extended maternity leave. Working on changing the culture at a grassroots level was obtainable and more impactful than attempting to fight gender inequality alone.
What’s the best part about being a Horned Frog?
The best part of being a Horned Frog is the community. While we were all facing challenges and uncertainties over the last two years, the Horned Frog community appeared stronger than ever. Fellow students and our professors made extra efforts to reach out and check in with each other and it has felt amazing to be a part of something much larger than myself.