2011 TC Pressroom
Teachers College, Columbia University
Teachers College Columbia University

TC Media Center from the Office of External Affairs

Section Navigation

Gloria Pasley: A Student Who Thrives on Adversity

The first thing that strikes you when meeting Gloria Pasley, a doctoral student in Educational Administration, is her optimism. It's hard to believe, however, that this young lady who started her career as a music teacher in St. Louis at the age of 32--after leaving a position as a legal secretary--is living with a life threatening disease, sickle cell anemia.

Ms. Pasley received her bachelor's degree from the University of Missouri in St. Louis. After teaching music education in a local school district, she went on to receive her master's degree, again in music education, but this time from the University of Illinois, Edwardsville.

In speaking with her academic mentor, Gloria Pasley was convinced that she wanted to move further along and involve herself in research. "I wanted to pursue my dream and with one more step I'll get the brass ring, my doctorate," she said.

She decided to apply to the top five education schools in the nation and was accepted to TC and two others. She decided on TC, she said, because of the U.S. News & World Report survey that ranked the College as the number one graduate school of education in America. Pasley added, "Maybe that's a bit hokey, but as a Midwesterner, I take that survey very seriously."

Pasley is a member of a research team, headed by Professor Harold Abeles, that is assessing the implementation of fine arts programs in Baltimore, Hartford, and New York City. She looks forward to a career as a lobbyist for music education once she receives her degree. "The arts are needed in our schools. Even if people outside the arts don't realize it, it is an important component of our school curriculum," she said.

Pasley is not naïve about the difficulties she faces on a daily basis, with sickle cell anemia as her constant companion. She knows that it can erupt, cause severe pain, and even lead to a medical crisis. "I have had to make choices around the disease since I was nine years old." Making the decision to come to TC not only involved academic considerations, but was also fraught with medical issues concerning locating the best physicians and participating in new drug testing.

It has also been a difficult time for her family. While Pasley is confident about her medical treatment and is doing fine, her family is constantly worried and fearful that she is going through too much stress. Nevertheless, Pasley wants to "reach for the ultimate," and won't let sickle cell anemia stop her.

Pasley has advice for others who may be facing similar circumstances. "Never let any goal stand in your way. It may take a while and there will be hurdles along the way. But you'll be a happier person if you keep your eye on the prize."

previous page