Recent UNCG Peace and Conflict Studies Master’s Degree Alumna, Norma Raynor is continuing her scholarly studies by pursuing a Ph.D in Peace and Conflict Studies at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Norma agreed to be interviewed regarding her experience in UNCG’s Peace and Conflict Studies department and her plans for the future in the field of Peace and Conflict Studies.
DS: Why did you choose to study Peace and Conflict Studies?
NR: My motivation to study peace and conflict studies was initially fueled by a strong desire to elicit positive changes by researching, understanding, and implementing PCS practices in a civil service capacity to help serve the needs of veterans in North Carolina. Currently, I work within local county government in eastern North Carolina, assisting veterans with their VA Disability claims. On a typical day, I consult with veterans about medical issues that may be connected to their time in service, discussing how those current issues affect not only their own lives, but also the lives of their family, friends, and colleagues. Many of my clients suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), not only incurred from combat, but also from other circumstances like Military Sexual Trauma (MST) or secondary assault while serving in the US Armed Forces. I noticed an alarming number of Veterans with PTSD who continued to experience conflict post-military service, often responding with immediate anger and violence, bypassing peaceful methods of conflict resolution. While I am afforded valuable training on the job, I wanted to do more to understand the reasons behind many of my clients’ actions to best assist them in moving forward non-violently.
DS: Why did you choose UNCG as the program to study Peace and Conflict Studies?
NR: When I decided to study Peace and Conflict Studies, I began researching various programs, determining factors like accessibility, cost, and program reputation. The Peace and Conflict Studies program at UNCG was a perfect fit for everything I required academically, had an exceptional reputation for their program, and offered the MA completely online. As someone working full time, finding an online program was imperative, so I was delighted when I learned that UNCG offered the degree in an asynchronous online format.
DS: How do you think the masters program has prepared you for the Ph.D program at Nova Southeastern?
NR: I feel quite prepared for my PhD program at Nova Southeastern University after my experience with the PCS program at UNCG. UNCG is fortunate to have a faculty comprised of academics with varied backgrounds in the field of PCS, so I am quite confident I have a solid foundation and understanding of the theories, models, and conceptual frameworks required to further my academic career. I am in the process of transferring some of my MA credits to my PhD program, of which several PCS courses have already been approved for transfer into the program. The colloquium requirement for PCS also helped prepare me for future academic endeavors, as working in a PCS program approved environment provided hands-on experience working in the field. Not only did this experience boost my confidence and reassure me that I was embarking on the right path, I was also able to draw on my course knowledge from the past two years and view firsthand how the theories and methods I learned were directly applied in real-life scenarios and used to appropriately mitigate conflict scenarios.
DS: What do you intend to pursue after you complete your Ph.D?
NR: After completing my Ph.D., I will seek a teaching position with a university, capitalizing not only on my Ph.D. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution, but also on my undergraduate degrees in both Cultural Anthropology and History. I have always aspired to teach on the collegiate level, but I did not identify my true niche and passion until embarking on my MA program in Peace and Conflict studies. It will be the honor and privilege of my life, both professionally and personally, to be awarded the opportunity to teach others about the rising importance of peace and conflict resolution in our world today!