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Ann Brooks receives prestigious recognition ahead of August retirement

Dr. Ann Brooks receives prestigious recognition ahead of August retirement

Emma Carberry | January 13, 2020

This past fall, Dr. Ann Brooks, professor in the Counseling, Leadership, Adult Education and School Psychology Department, traveled to Belgrade, Serbia to be inducted into the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame. This honor was a recognition by her peers of her over 40 years of contributions to the adult education field.

It is fitting for Brooks to have traveled to Belgrade for her induction, because international travel has been a staple of her career. Growing up in Omaha, Nebraska, Brooks was an avid reader and had long wanted to visit the places in the books. So when she was a junior in college, she studied abroad in Vienna, Italy, an experience that taught her how much could be learned from living abroad. She quickly knew that she wanted to pursue a career that would allow her to learn about the lives of people in different countries while also being productive internationally. So, she decided to pursue a master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second or Other Language (TESOL) at the School for International Training in Vermont.

With her new degree, Brooks spent the next ten years working mostly in Asia and the Pacific. She taught in Papua New Guinea and the People’s Republic of China, worked in international management development for a Japanese corporation and ran a college preparatory program for a consortium of American universities in Japan. Looking back on that time period, Brooks says that working with people and helping them to develop their intercultural skills led to her interest in transformative learning. She admits, “I didn’t even know adult education and learning was the field I was interested in,” but after researching and learning more about that area “it was so clear that that’s what I wanted to be working in.”

Dr. Ann Brooks
Dr. Ann Brooks

Transformative learning describes the process of expanding consciousness through structural shift in the basic premises of thought, feelings, and actions of our basic worldview. After discovering that her passion had a name, Brooks was eager to earn her doctoral degree under the tutelage of the man who developed the theory, Dr. Jack Mezirow. So, she moved back to the United States to study with him at Columbia University, where she completed her Ed.D. in 1989.

After completing her degree, she took a position at the University of Texas at Austin, where she worked for 15 years before Dr. Jovita Ross-Gordon, now retired program faculty in Texas State’s Adult, Professional, and Community Education program, contacted her to ask if she was interested in applying for a faculty position at Texas State and help build up the Adult, Professional and Community Education doctoral program. “The opportunity to build something new and something I cared about was very appealing,” reflects Brooks, “so I moved to Texas State.” Sixteen years later, Brooks is looking forward to her retirement in August, having added many exciting adventures to her career during her time at Texas State.

Most fulfilling, she says, has been working with doctoral students, specifically coaching and mentoring them as they work on their dissertation research. She has taken great pride in helping others enter the field. She follows her former students’ progress and has seen them move into academia, bring their expertise to other countries, and practice in various fields from state government to health initiatives to business and industry.

Brooks is grateful that Texas State has done so much to develop and support her international work. Her career has been guided by creating opportunities both for herself and for her students to be increasingly open to all the variety in the world and to have their ways of thinking challenged. “What’s been exciting has been working with our doctoral program here to bring in as many different kinds of people as we can with as many different backgrounds,” she says. She has found watching diverse students teach and learn from each other and observing them go to conferences and interact internationally (she personally has taken students to Europe, Canada, Asia and Mexico) with other scholars to be incredibly rewarding. Among many other ventures, during her time at Texas State, Brooks has travelled to Cambodia as a Fulbright International Scholar, participated in bringing a certification in Southeast Asian Studies to the university, and taught Lived Reality and International Development in Southeast Asia to undergraduate students in the Honors program.

Being inducted into the International Continuing and Adult Education Hall of Fame was a great culminating honor for Brooks. In addition to the teaching, research, and mentoring responsibilities she has taken on as a professor, she has also contributed to the field as a journal editor and held office in national professional organizations. She appreciates all her colleagues not only at Texas State, but also nationally and internationally who took the time to nominate her and to recognize her work. For her, the award says, “we saw you, and thank you.”

According to Brooks, the adult education and learning field has a strong moral ethos that is built in wanting to have a just, equal society in which everyone has equal opportunities. When she was working internationally early in her career, she didn’t know there was anything called adult education, but when she learned there was, it turned out to be exactly the ethos she was already engaged in and has continued to engage in for the entirety of her career. Texas State is thankful for all the contributions Brooks has made to positively impact the field, her students, and her colleagues over the past sixteen years and the College of Education congratulates her on her upcoming retirement.