MEd and PhD in LTEC

Natalie Perez

“Not only have my experiences with LTEC radically shaped my career path, but the program has the most incredible faculty.”


I was born in Haleʻiwa and grew up there until I was about six. After that, my family moved to ʻEwa Beach where I currently live.


Learning Design and Technology

Related Degrees

  • MEd, Learning Design & Technology
  • PhD, Learning Design & Technology

Where do you work?
I work at Amazon in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) division. I work as a research scientist. My work focuses on employee experience and retention. I use quantitative and qualitative research methods to learn about Amazon’s global workforce. Most of my work focuses on conducting exploratory or explanatory research studies to understand what’s working or not working within a range of employee’s working environments. After conducting research, I build reports, and I share those reports with business leaders to drive recommended actions with the goal of improving employee experiences and wellbeing.

How did you become interested in the field of Educational Technology?
I didn’t know much about education technology, but while I was working at UH West Oʻahu, I was asked to support the conversion and maintenance of student support services online. I lacked practical knowledge of best practices in online support services, so when I found out about the LTEC program, I decided to apply. It was the perfect fit for my needs.

How has the program benefited or impacted your career path?
Both the MEd and PhD programs impacted my career path in different ways. After I completed the MEd program, I broadened my knowledge of educational technology and online pedagogy, which helped to give me the foundation to pivot into a new role directing Honolulu Community Colleges online learning and teaching program. My MEd also trained me to become an instructional designer, and I leveraged that skillset to pivot into my first role at Amazon as a senior instructional designer.

The PhD program taught me how to become a researcher. I had always been intrigued by research, but I lacked the knowledge and skillset, and my PhD program and all the incredible LTEC faculty taught me how to become a researcher. Two weeks before I defended my dissertation, I pivoted into my current role as a research scientist. I would have never had the knowledge and skills to direct online learning programs, generate materials as an instructional designer, or conduct rigorous research studies without the LTEC programs. Both LTEC programs were essential to my ever-evolving career path.

Would you recommend the LTEC program to others? Why?
I have recommended the LTEC program to dozens of friends and colleagues, and I continue to advocate for the program. Not only have my experiences with LTEC radically shaped my career path, but the program has the most incredible faculty. The LTEC faculty are renowned, kind, supportive, and encouraging people. The LTEC faculty and staff reinforce a sense of ʻohana that is special and unique, and I have been fortunate to be part of the LTEC ʻohana. It is a wonderful group to be a part of!

What is something that would surprise others to know about you?
I love riding and racing motocross (but don’t ride as often these days). In 2006, I was ranked third for the International Women’s Motocross Amateur Motocross Championships.

I love traveling. One of my favorite travel destinations was Beijing, China. I visited Beijing with a group from UH Mānoa’s social science division and a former LTEC classmate. We studied at Beijing Foreign Studies University together. It was a blast!

I never was much of a runner, but in the middle of my dissertation work, I decided to take up running. To keep me motivated, I set up a goal of running the Honolulu Marathon. In 2021, I completed the marathon, and I loved the experience. Since then, I ran the virtual marathon in 2022, and I’m excited to be back to run the marathon in 2023.

What are your future plans?
My future plans are to continue to learn. My husband always jokes that I’ve got a million and one things I’m interested in, and that’s mostly true. I continue to enjoy research work, and I’ve been exploring the possibility of qualitative medical research. I’m fascinated with business statistics, and I’ve considered joining a post-doc program to further build my skillset in that area. In the meantime, I’m just taking a course. Employee relations and the legal aspects behind policies is something that I’ve been learning more about, and I’ve thought about exploring that area in more detail. I work with several legal experts, and their work is fascinating and also has several overlaps with my work. I’ve always had an interest in interior design; and, at some point, I’m determined to join a program to learn more about environmental design principles. I’m determined to keep growing and learning and expanding my interdisciplinary knowledge. I’m an extreme case, but I always say, if I could, I’d be a full-time student for life.


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