From family trips to Greece, to a childhood game with her sister that eventually shaped her career, to her sports-filled life with her husband and two teenagers, for Dr. Julie Adkins, Program Chair of the Master of Arts in Education program at UAGC, family is at the center of it all.

Her dedication to family is rooted in her positive and well-rounded upbringing. Growing up, Dr. Adkins’ father was in the restaurant business, and it brought them from Long Island, NY to Wilmington, NC, and eventually to Richmond, VA, where she still lives today. One of her more cherished memories is the annual family trips to Greece to visit extended loved ones on her father’s side.

But perhaps the most impactful was the time she spent with her sister, for it would eventually lead to a fulfilling career.

“I attribute my sister’s academic success to my teaching skills as a child,” Dr. Adkins joked, describing this earliest foray into teaching. As kids, they would play school together, with Dr. Adkins acting as the teacher. Though from this young age, she had an aptitude for education, Dr. Adkins’s first career was surprisingly in finance.

Before moving into the world of education, Dr. Adkins was a forensic accountant. Despite her childhood passions, she firmly believed she wanted to work in a high-rise office building. After earning her bachelor’s degree in economics from the College of William and Mary, she launched her career in accounting. Her job was to investigate CEOs committing white-collar crimes. While Dr. Adkins still loves a good Excel spreadsheet, she realized quickly that working behind a desk was not for her. Like any good educator, she went back to school.

Big Moves

After deciding to leave her corporate career, Dr. Adkins took two major steps in her life. First, she earned her MA in education from Virginia Commonwealth University. And she got married. With a graduate degree in hand, Dr. Adkins finally made her childhood game a reality and became a classroom teacher. She taught 4th and 5th grades and, by her last year, became the mathematics coach for her school. During this time, she also started her own family.

She went on to pursue her doctorate, but Dr. Adkins had to make sure it did not take away from her time with her new family. Because she had a young daughter and a full-time job, she decided to pursue her online doctorate at Capella University. Through this, Dr. Adkins saw the power and importance of an online degree, something that would shape her later career. Her son was born at the same time she was defending her dissertation, a circumstance many UAGC students are all too familiar with.

“I took my dissertation work to the hospital, she says. “I figured I’d have time!” “After finishing my dissertation, I had all this extra time I thought ‘what do I do?’” she explained, only half joking.

During this period, she was still a full-time classroom teacher, raising two children after all. However, her experience at Capella University had impacted her and she began part-time teaching as an adjunct professor for various online universities. Ultimately, she decided to take a leap of faith and leave her classroom job altogether. That same year, she was hired on full time at UAGC.

UAGC Faculty Dr. Julie Adkins with colleague, left, and family, right.

Left, Dr. Julie Adkins (right) with a colleague at UAGC commencement; right, Dr. Julie Adkins spending time with her family. 

A Master of Education

Today, Dr. Adkins is a Program Chair of the master's degree in education program at UAGC. Many of her colleagues at the university, like Dr. Debbie Carpenter, have become her closest friends even in a remote work environment, which Dr. Adkins says is one of her favorite parts of her job.

Perhaps more than that, though, she loves the students that she gets to teach.

“Our university really caters to non-traditional students, and having been in that position, I really know how hard it is,” she acknowledges. “I feel like my purpose in life is to support students in that life and help to make it better.”

There are also challenges, though, with their unique learning environment. One of the aids Dr. Adkins has employed, alongside her colleague Dr. Jackie Kyger, is a writing tool kit. Students at UAGC and other online universities come from a variety of backgrounds and learning levels. Dr. Adkins often finds herself asking students, “What does academic writing mean to you?” and some are not able to answer the question.

The writing toolkit is meant to be a support system for students who don’t have a background in academic writing, or students who just want a little extra help. Each week in the toolkit, students learn different skills from research to citations, analysis to formatting. Just recently, Dr. Adkins and Dr. Kyger have begun gathering data from their initial pass with the toolkit to see what works and doesn’t, and then make changes to improve it.

Dr. Adkins says the absolute greatest part about UAGC, is that it allows her the flexibility to prioritize her family. She said, without hesitation, that her kids Cristina, 11th grade, and Justin, 8th grade, are the greatest accomplishments in her life. “I’m proud of the great human beings they’re turning into. They’re empathetic, and they know they have to work. It’s not just handed to them.”

Outside of work, Dr. Adkins’s family pervades everything. She and her husband are the proud parents of two dogs, Leonidas and Mattis. She even managed to make it back to Greece for a family reunion for the first time in almost 30 years.

They are a very outdoorsy family, often going on camping trips with their kids. There’s a “Sense of great serenity about being in nature,” Dr. Adkins says of their passion. They have a rooftop tent on their car and love to spend their time far away from the internet, television, and the other distractions of civilization. Most recently, some of their favorite trips have been to Arcadia National Park, Moab, and Zion National Park.


Successful completion of a degree program at the University of Arizona Global Campus by itself does not lead to licensure or certification in any state, regardless of concentration or specialization. Certain degree programs may not be available in all states.

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