A mother to an autistic son is pursuing a doctoral degree in special education at the College of Education and Human Development, associated with the University of Louisville to help other autistic students like her son. A teacher herself, Lorita Rowlett started teaching straight out of college and has over eight years of classroom teaching experience.
When she initially returned to college for her master’s degree in special education, she just wanted to do more for her students. However, after the birth of her son, she switched to special education to help other autistic students and their parents.
As her child struggled with the traditional education system, her focus narrowed. “Even though my son is working now, he wasn’t successful at college in his first attempt. It was very hard watching him fail and I had to constantly remind him that it’s not him who is not ready, it’s the world that is not ready for autistic students like him,” says Lorita.
And that’s why, when she learned of a special grant offered by the Department of Special Education, Early Childhood, and Prevention Science at the College of Education and Human Development, she decided to return to the University of Louisville to pursue her doctoral degree.
Called the Project P.U.R.P.L.E. (Preparing Urban and Rural Personnel as Leaders in Education), it is a cooperative partnership between the UofL and the University of Kentucky that provides special benefits such as full tuition to doctoral students conducting research on education. Rowlett is also an AACTE Holmes Scholar, a program that provides extensive support and professional mentorship to doctoral students from historically underrepresented backgrounds pursuing degrees in education.
Through her education, she not only hopes to focus on transition planning but to also make a deeper impact in education by creating policies that streamline such transition.