Texas Tech University

National Distance Learning Week Student Spotlight: Jessica Ulmer

Amanda Bowman and Timothy Howard

November 7, 2018

Ulmer won’t let hearing loss stop her from finishing her doctoral degree.

Jessica Ulmer
Jessica Ulmer

In honor of the United States Distance Learning Association's National Distance Learning Week (Nov. 5-9), Texas Tech University is highlighting students who are pursuing their higher-education degrees through its eLearning & Academic Partnerships online and distance programs.

Jessica Ulmer is currently completing coursework in the online Doctor of Philosophy in Technical Communication and Rhetoric program and plans to finish her dissertation by spring 2020.

When Ulmer first began looking at online doctorate programs, she lived in Rhode Island. After moving to South Carolina, she was interested in a doctorate in English program at another university. Due to her full-time teaching job and need for a salary, she was not able to pursue the English program.

Ulmer also had encountered some life-changing circumstances along the way.

“I lost most of my hearing when I was finishing up my master's in English in 2013,” Ulmer said. “When I was accepted into the Technical Communication and Rhetoric program, I started telling my friends about it. One of them suggested that I contact Student Disability Services to receive accommodations. This was the first time in my entire life that I had to self-advocate in this way.”

Online programs at Texas Tech gave Ulmer the flexibility she needed to achieve her dreams.

“When I was young, I told myself and anyone who would listen that I was going to be a doctor someday,” she said. “As a first-generation college graduate, I wanted to prove to myself and to everybody else that I could do it. My determination wavered a bit when I began teaching. I wasn't sure how to get a doctorate and teach full time. But in 2006, I began to realize that if I really wanted to help change anything in education, and later writing/English studies, I would need to get a doctorate.”

Ulmer's story is a wonderful example of the ways online programs from Texas Tech can give students the freedom to achieve success. #TTUFromAnywhere