Learning firsthand the advantages and drawbacks of distance delivery in the early years of online delivery, Cynthia Blodgett-Griffin, PhD, became involved in distance education when her graduate assistantship included the first distance delivery of teacher training via satellite. Since then, she has served as an online adjunct professor and online course materials editor for the Centre for Distance Education at Athabasca University in Alberta, Canada, for the past 14 years. Dr. Blodgett-Griffin chose online distance education because the students are a different sort, motivated and purpose-driven, and trying to balance full lives with graduate school. Their lives include a dream of attaining a graduate degree and moving on to achievements that are currently out of reach. The opportunity to be a mentor as well as a professor directed her into online distance education.
A highlight of Dr. Blodgett-Griffin’s career was during one semester when she had students in 23 time zones. The concept of time disappeared when she found that at any given moment she had students in yesterday, today and tomorrow almost at the same time. Two students lived one hour from each other, yet they were 23 hours apart. As a distance educator, Dr. Blodgett-Griffin is a change agent. Her desire has been to be a tenured professor in a research university. Her need for flexibility informed her choice to remain adjunct. Being an international distance educator, she has needed to have her own small business.
Prior to the start of her professional career, Dr. Blodgett-Griffin pursued a formal education at Minnesota State University in Moorhead, earning a Bachelor of Science in graphic communications and advertising. She then matriculated at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she attained a Master of Arts in adult education and PhD in education and human sciences. Dr. Blodgett-Griffin’s greatest personal achievement is tied to her career. As a doctoral candidate, she experienced a traumatic brain injury. She relearned to add 1+1, remember her address, rebuild her vocabulary and many years later, completed a PhD. Having learned the power of motivation and hard work, her career achievement is to help adult graduate students complete their degrees. When she is told by a student that they were so discouraged or overwhelmed that they would have withdrawn from graduate study if she hadn’t been there to encourage them, she feels that her own skill as an educator has been successful. She feels strongly that no adult should lose their dream of attaining a master’s degree or a doctorate.
Active in her local community, Dr. Blodgett-Griffin is the president, lead minister and adult education coordinator for the Wiccan Church. She also serves in the prison ministry for the Wiccan Prisoners in Nebraska. A prolific writer, Dr. Blodgett-Griffin authored two works, her PhD dissertation titled “A grounded theory study of the process of accessing information on the World Wide Web by people with mild traumatic brain injury” in 2008 and “Mild traumatic brain injury and information access on the World Wide Web,” published by Lambert Academic Publishing in Saarbrücken, Germany, in 2011. Likewise, she co-authored five other publications.
Involved with the Association of Adult and Continuing Education, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center, Dr. Blodgett-Griffin was named Professional Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women in 2010. Moreover, she is a recipient of the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award, and was recognized as a Woman of Outstanding Leadership by the IWLA and for Outstanding Professionalism as a Top Female Executive. Dr. Blodgett-Griffin is also listed in the 71st edition of Who’s Who in America.
Dr. Blodgett-Griffin attributes her success to her own struggles as a graduate student, which feed her desire to help others reach their academic goals just as she reached hers. She has personal experience with learning from professors whose teaching and mentoring skills ranged from excellent to absolutely unacceptable. Her own advisers served as role models, and shaped her understanding of what it means to be a teacher, particularly Dr. John Dirkx and Dr. Roger Bruning. They taught her to believe in herself and sharpen her critical thinking to hone her academic skills.
Presently, Dr. Blodgett-Griffin frequently checks in on her students monthly or more, if she hasn’t heard from them. She wants her students to become scholars with the potential to contribute to their field of study. Working with adults has been the most rewarding part of her career. She works with others to achieve goals; they teach her about things that will make her courses better and she cares and directs them in their coursework. As a result, her retention rate for students whom she has supervised is nearly 100%. In five years, Dr. Blodgett-Griffin plans to continue to teach and expand into teaching teachers to transition into online education.