PhD, Doctoral Grant Recipient, and Graduate Assistant in Special Education

Jonathan Alexander

"I’ve been on a journey for many years, and I think I may have arrived where I’m supposed to be."


Nampa, Idaho


Special Education

Related Degrees

  • PhD, Education: Exceptionalities

Briefly describe your own road to this career field and your future goals.

I started out studying Music Education before I enlisted in the Marine Corps. While going through my medical retirement process, I applied for the Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Special Education program and was accepted. Unfortunately, the timing wasn’t right and I pursued a Masters in Social Work with a concentration in Military and Veteran Affairs. After completing a year as a Maternal and Child Health Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (MCH LEND) trainee, I saw the opportunity to apply for the Early Childhood Intervention Doctoral Consortium (ECiDC) and was accepted. I would love to be a faculty member of UH Mānoa someday!

How did you become interested in the field of special education?

Having a daughter who has an intellectual disability (ID) and developmental delay (DD), social work, and the dignity of self worth of individuals brought me here to ensure that future educators teach with empathy and lead the way for educators.

What is your philosophy of teaching?

My philosophy is one of personal feelings. Being able to teach from an emphatic standpoint, allowing yourself to grow from your students and help them grow is immeasurable. I want to guide those to take the positive and negative aspect of experiences, and use that to mold a better person in society.

What words of advice would you give to people looking to pursue this profession?

Teach with your heart, then your brain. If you need to look left or right to make a decision about your next steps, it may be the wrong one. Always set out to make those you teach better than you.

What are your research interests?

Families and Policy

What are you looking forward to most as you pursue the PhD Education, Exceptionalities-Track as an ECiDC recipient?

I am looking forward to a number of experiences as an ECiDC recipient. The opportunity to network with peers and experts in the field, learn from a world class faculty, gain lifelong experiences that will shape the rest of my career, and most importantly, have the opportunity to represent the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, College of Education, SPED Department, and the state of Hawaii.

What do you like to do outside of education?

I love reading, spending time with my family, the beach, and the mountains.

I'm interested in learning more about a degree or certificate in Special Education.

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