Autoethnography for Rodney E. Rohde:
I have thought about writing my autoethnography for several weeks now. After viewing an example of a past student's video in our ED 7511 course, I think we all have been struggling with our own personal journey in this assignment. I've let it haunt my thoughts and become part of my conversations with family and friends. I've come to the conclusion that there can be no, one, correct recipe for writing an autoethnography. Ethnographic writing practice has been defined as being characterized by personalized accounts where authors relate their own experiences to augment understanding of a particular discipline or culture. These types of writing practices have been labeled 'autoethnography' (Reed-Danahay, 1997). The objective of this paper will be to explore, reflect, and weave my experiences from my past background, my present status as an educator and doctoral student, and my future goals and aspirations with respect to my educational perspectives.
Reflections on the Past:
I was born and raised in Bastrop County in the small rural town of Smithville, Texas, on June 29th 1967, to my parents, David and Nelda (Brinkley) Rohde. I have an older brother, Winchel, and a younger sister, Wendy. My paternal grandparents were Alvin Rohde and Irene (Preuss) Rohde (Fox, 1983) and my maternal grandparents were Edward 'Doc' Brinkley and Nell (Eakin) Brinkley (N. Rohde, personal communication, October 20, 2006).
I was born into a culture of hardworking German Lutherans (Fox, 1983). My father worked for the Missouri Kansas Texas Railroad as a conductor for over 30 years. Some of my fondest memories are when he would sneak all of us kids onto the caboose or engine for a short ride. My father instilled many core values in me: faith in God, hard work, responsibility, honesty, and accountability. He had very little patience for laziness, disrespect, and 'excuses.' I can not remember my Dad ever 'calling in sick' or doing anything without doing it the right way, or as he would say, 'the Rohde way' (D. Rohde, personal communication, October 20, 2006). He believed that kids who didn't work for what they wanted would never truly appreciate what they had. All three of us worked for our first stereos, cars, or special clothes that we wanted. Dad was fond of saying, 'hard work never killed anyone and it's more important to finish something than start something' (Rohde, 2003). He still lectures my wife and I on the importance of now making our kids, his grandchildren, work for what they want in this world. I know that I get one of my most important attributes, 'hard worker', from my father. It has served me well in the course of my life and I will revisit it often in this essay.
My mom had the hardest job in the world. She had to raise three children as a homemaker and she usually did this alone. Since my father worked all hours of the day and night on the railroad, she often had to make critical decisions relating to health, school, church, and everything else that comes along with dealing with children. I look back on what she did in total awe, especially in light of trying to be totally involved in the raising of my own daughter and son. Mom likes to remind me of how I used to have 'meltdowns' over not making perfect grades on a test or having a hard time with mastering a sport (N. Rohde, personal communication, October 20, 2006). She was always there for the disappointments and successes with a word of comfort or congratulations. Mom instilled in me my compassion for others and how to truly appreciate the ones you love.
Grandma Rohde's influence:
The matriarch and glue of our family was always my Grandma Rohde. She was the 'faith center' for our family. Grandma Rohde lived her Lutheran faith daily and was an early important influence in my life, both directly in our interactions and indirectly through my parents. It is important to note that she was born in 1904 and lived until this past March of 2006 (101 years young). I think I am most connected to her by way of how important she viewed her religion and education. I fondly remember conversations with her about her childhood and early adulthood. She acquired her teaching certificate from Southwest Texas State Normal College (presently, Texas State University-San Marcos) in 1921 and began teaching school at 16 years of age in a one-room school. She lived at the Burhdorf Hotel in Paige, Texas, while teaching school and eventually meeting her husband, Alvin John Rohde, whom she married on May 24, 1925. Irene was a faithful member in Sunday school and worship services at Grace Lutheran Church in Smithville, Texas (Rohde, 2006). We connected on so many levels but she got the most pleasure I think out of me 'following her' to San Marcos to achieve my college degrees (I so wish she was here right now to proofread this autoethnography for me). I get my middle name from one of her sons and the uncle I never met, Elton Rohde, who was a military policeman in World War II in the Philippines only to die in a tragic car wreck upon his return home from the war (D. Rohde, personal communication, October 20, 2006).
Grandpa Brinkley's influence:
My maternal grandparents died much younger than my paternal grandparents so I don't have as many memories of them from my early adult years. However, I do distinctly remember my maternal grandfather being an avid and voracious reader. He would read several newspapers a day and he always had a book in hand. Even though he passed away before I went to college, he predicted to my mother that I would be the one who went to college. Mom often tells me how proud he would have been of me due to the success of obtaining a college degree (N. Rohde, personal communication, October 20, 2006).
Pastor Fitch's influence:
Of the many mentors that I have had in my life, I have chosen to single out one of my former pastors and teachers, Dr. Laverne Fitch. He had a profound influence during my young adult life and helped establish in me core beliefs and attributes with respect to my faith and my education. Pastor Fitch was my confirmation leader in Grace Lutheran Church in Smithville. He states in his email about me:
I first met him as a member of the Lutheran congregation I was serving in Smithville, Texas. He and his family were an active part of our total congregational activities such as worship, auxiliary societies, Sunday school, and bible classes. He was one of the most gifted catechetical tudents that I have ever had in congregational experience, and assignments. Christian educational subjects were so much more than head knowledge; it also involved Rodney's heart and very being. All of these personal characteristics have carried over for him in his educational journey in both undergraduate and graduate work. Doing it correctly, and also doing the best job possible, accounts for his academic excellence. Most of all, Rodney brings open, honest, and Christian ethics into his personal, family, and teaching areas of his life. His seeking the doctoral degree is not for self-excellence, but to simply equip him for better serving his students, and to be more equipped as a professional faculty member at a major university (L. Fitch, personal communication, October 26, 2006).
Each of these people in my past helped me to become the person that I am with respect to my educational path. However, I regret that I have omitted numerous other past and current mentors in my life with respect to the scope and length of this assignment. With their encouragement, I pushed myself in all aspects of my educational past and was quite successful in my hometown schools. I traveled the path of college preparatory classes and was determined to be the first person in my family (Grandma Rohde received a teaching 'certificate' for just one summer of work) to receive a college education. I remember being terrified at the thought of going 'off to college' without any guidance of what some students take for granted by way of parental experience and knowledge. For instance, I had no idea of the intricacies of registering for classes, financial aid, dormitory roommates, and choosing a major. Fortunately, with my strong work ethic and fear of failure to drive me, I had a very successful undergraduate career (microbiology) at Southwest Texas State University. In fact, one of my professors in the Biology Department mentored me with respect to continuing my education by way of pursuing a Master of Science degree after thriving in his courses (G. Aron, personal communication, October 23, 2006). Graduate school challenged my academic abilities with respect to research, literature analysis, time-management, and writing. As I reflect on that time period in my life, I believe it augmented my strong foundation in 'hard work' and to focus upon goals.
After graduate school, I had a very successful decade (1992-2002) in the public health arena with the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS, formerly TDH). It was in this capacity that I became keenly aware of continuing education and adult learning. I also began teaching as an adjunct professor at Austin Community College in the nursing program, which continued my interest in education. In 2002, after much soul searching and prayer, I accepted a position as an assistant professor in the Clinical Laboratory Science (CLS) Program at Texas State University-San Marcos. My duties in this position revolve around the education of undergraduate students that want to pursue careers in the clinical laboratory. I also have the traditional responsibilities of scholarship and service that are found with a tenure track position.
Wife and children's influence:
Lastly, I met my wife, Bonnie, during my undergraduate years. She was (and is) a critical influence in my educational journey. Bonnie has made me a better husband, son and father by encouraging me to be more patient with people. She has melded me into a better listener with respect to our interactions and my children. Due to my upbringing, I know that I can be a 'taskmaster' when it comes to my expectations for my children and students. Bonnie has directly helped to change my 'one on one' interactions in the realm of teaching and fatherhood. It's interesting to me that when we decided that I would go back to school, I was very concerned about neglecting my family. Recently, my wife commented to me, without my inquiring, that she and the kids have barely noticed my absence in key family time. She stated that it has been much better in the pursuit of my PhD as compared to my MS degree with respect to my time with the family (B. Rohde, November 4, 2006).
Reflections on the Present:
As a current educator in the college atmosphere, I find that I am most challenged by teaching complex medical content to students that come from a very diverse background with respect to age, gender, race, and culture. I also believe that getting married and having my own children has influenced my perceptions of education. I consider myself most likely in the realm of a pragmatist as a learner and educator. However, in light of my current doctoral coursework, I find myself learning important cultural views in education that I truly had not considered as an educator. I hope to incorporate some of the cultural aspects that I have learned into my courses in the future. It's also interesting to consider that adult learning can be enriching and perhaps more in depth if approached by different pedagogical styles.
As an adult learner, I find that I am much more involved in understanding the subject matter. I prefer to have information streamlined and focused with the availability of practicing what I have learned in a suitable environment (e.g. laboratory). I find personal learning to be most difficult when I am not able to apply what I have learned in a classroom or other setting to a direct experience.
With respect to the other challenges of my position, I find that the area of scholarship and service demands that I continue to build upon the educational foundation that I have acquired during my life. For instance, I have become involved in several continuing education (CE) projects in my professional societies. The National Laboratory Training Network (NLTN) and the American Society of CLS have given me the opportunity to teach, network, and collaborate with colleagues in the realm of adult training in my field. The challenges associated to continually meet the different learning styles of my students, in the college classroom or in the CE realm, directly influenced my decision to pursue a PhD in education.
Reflections on the Future:
The pursuit of an advanced degree in Adult and Professional Continuing Education (APCE) is a natural fit for the merging of my past, current, and future career(s). In each of my professional slants as an assistant professor at Texas State, adjunct professor at Austin Community College, and faculty member for the NLTN, I have found that the common denominator in my career has been my continuing exposure to both the traditional and non-traditional adult learner. It is important to mention that the NLTN is a Center for Disease Control organization that offers workshops, seminars, web casts, and other CE opportunities for public health employees of all states, which exposes me to various regional cultures with respect to adult learning styles and diverse educational frameworks.
As an assistant professor at my alma mater, Texas State, in the College of Health Professions-CLS Program, I see the true potential for obtaining the APCE PhD. Faculty members in our accredited program (National Association of CLS), instruct students in the importance of maintaining their certification as a CLS by CE after graduation. The professors in our program must also maintain certification (American Society of Clinical Pathologists, ASCP, and/or National Credentialing Agency, NCA) in our respective specialties to remain competent in our profession.
I believe I have been successful in academia in teaching, scholarship, and service and I hope to reach tenure in 2008. However, while the MS is the terminal degree in my field, the PhD in Education will afford me dynamic opportunities in both academia and the private sector. I will be able to pursue broader funding sources (National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, etc.), achieving 'full' professor, and teaching in diverse areas (graduate education in various disciplines) at the university. I also believe that I will be able to function very effectively in the national accreditation organizations in the private sector such as the ASCLS, ASCP, NCA, and the NLTN (all of which I work with in my profession).
Current BIO (2012):
Rodney E. Rohde, Ph.D., M.S., SV, SM, MB (ASCP)CM received his Bachelor of Science (microbiology) and Masters (Biology, emphasis in virology) degrees from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University). Dr. Rohde received his Ph.D. in Education in 2010 (Adult Professional Community Education) with a focus on Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) from Texas State.
Dr. Rohde is an associate professor in the College of Health Professions, Clinical Laboratory Science program at Texas State University. He is also a clinical assistant professor (joint appointment, non-paid) at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, School of Allied Health Sciences, Department of Laboratory Sciences & Primary Care, Clinical Laboratory Science Program. Additionally, Dr. Rohde continues to enjoy being an adjunct associate professor of biology in the nursing program for Austin Community College. He holds certifications as a Specialist in Virology, Specialist in Microbiology, and Molecular Biologist from the American Society for Clinical Pathology.
Rodney spent a decade as a public health microbiologist and molecular epidemiologist with the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Bureau of Laboratories and Zoonosis Control Division prior to his academic career. While there, Dr. Rohde helped establish the DSHS laboratory as an internationally recognized regional reference laboratory for rabies typing. He also participated in the internationally successful Oral Rabies Vaccination Program which helped eliminate canine rabies from parts of Texas. Rodney received the prestigious J.V. Irons Award for Scientific Excellence from the DSHS Bureau of Laboratories for his efforts in rabies control and prevention.
His research interests are very diverse but focus on adult education and public health microbiology, specifically with respect to rabies virology, oral rabies wildlife vaccination, antibiotic resistant bacteria, and molecular diagnostics/biotechnology. Dr. Rohde has published over 25 research articles and abstracts and presented at over 100 international, national, and state conferences. He has received a variety of grant support for his research. He was awarded the 2007 ASCLS Scientific Research Award for his work with MRSA and the CDC/ATSDR Charles C. Shepard Scientific Award nominee (Assessment Epidemiology category for 2006 publication "Bat-associated Rabies Virus in Skunks"). Dr. Rohde has been the College of Health Professions Presidential Award for Excellence in Scholarly/Creative Activities nominee since 2003.
Dr. Rohde also serves as an Associate Editor for BMC Research journal and as a reviewer for the Emerging Infectious Diseases journal. He has been an invited reviewer for numerous clinical microbiology and molecular diagnostic textbooks. Dr. Rohde is considered a subject matter expert in rabies and MRSA, as well as other public health and clinical laboratory topics. Recently, Dr. Rohde has been invited to serve on the Healthcare Environmental Disinfection Advisory Board by the MedErgy Health Group. This group will be focused on the impact of the healthcare environment on Health Acquired Infections (HAIs), including a scientific discussion of how the hospital environment contributes to HAIs, including common infectious agents, how they are spread, and environmental contributors to morbidity and mortality. The Advisory Board is a broad multidisciplinary group focusing on understanding gaps in current evidence, policy, and practice, and discussing how to encourage change in beliefs and behaviors relative to each of these aspects, to ultimately reduce HAIs and improve patient outcomes.
For more specific information about his projects, please see: [link=www.txstate.edu/~rr33]Rohde[/link]
Rodney enjoys teaching and mentoring students towards productive and exciting careers in clinical laboratories. He also enjoys incorporating research into his student's and colleagues' educational experience and challenging them to strive for lifelong learning.