Charles Crabtree is no stranger to the challenges facing vulnerable students. Once a non-traditional student himself, he worked as an English teacher in Belarus for several years. He observed severe educational discrimination against the country’s large orphan population and dreamed of one day building a school there. Later, he helped create a policy plan for a Colorado Department of Education teaching endorsement to improve online instruction and founded a computer recycling program aimed at improving digital access for local organizations.
But despite his passion for equity in education, Crabtree knew he would need deeper knowledge. “In addressing complex social and political issues, you can’t just barge in, start a program and be effective,” he says. “I needed to cut my teeth on public policy and answer broader questions about democratizing higher education.” Crabtree researched online programs, ultimately choosing SCS and earning a master’s in Public Policy Administration. “It was the most prestigious, and highest quality online offering, and I was continuously impressed with how well Northwestern approximated a physical classroom,” he says. “I had amazing faculty — Drs. Lester, Shapiro and Rothleder — who challenged us to go beyond minimum course requirements.” Crabtree also benefited from the discussion forums critical to success in online programs. “Northwestern admits stellar students, and you can learn a lot from them. My fellow students Sam, Joyce, Dennis and many others were very knowledgeable and supportive.”
The experience led to an exciting new phase for Crabtree: he was accepted into the University of South Carolina’s PhD program in political science and awarded a five-year Presidential Teaching Fellowship with the Program on Social Advocacy and Ethical Life. “SCS opened new worlds of inquiry and opportunity,” he says. “And I’m confident that I can use my education to make a meaningful contribution to my new fields.”