Robert Gonzales

PhD Leadership Studies


Wyckoff, New Jersey

Expected Graduation Date


What do you hope to do with your degree, and why?

Get a job!  As many are aware, and I'm finding out, a PhD opens up a world of opportunity.  I’m looking to return to a job with the government or a research group or a think tank in the U.S. or overseas.  Also, I look forward to opportunities to teach college classes as an adjunct.

How did you hear about SOLES, and why did you choose to enroll?

My voyage of discovery to the SOLES PhD program started with a web search of PhD programs in the San Diego and DC area 4 years before I applied.  Most importantly, before applying, I visited campus, attended 2 of the SOLES PhD open houses, and set up meetings with a few of the faculty.  Sitting, talking, and interacting with the faculty was a key factor in deciding to attend USD.

Are you currently working? If so, do you work full-time, part time, and what do you do?

I'm a full-time student and recently retired from the U.S. Navy as a Captain after 30 years as a Surface Warfare Officer and was blessed with the opportunity to lead some of America's finest young men and women in command of a Destroyer and as Commodore of a Task Force overseas.  My wife and I live in the Hillcrest area of San Diego and she works full-time.

Which class has impacted you the most? Why?

Including this semester, I've taken 8 core and elective classes and they are all excellent classes.  LEAD 602, Competing Conceptions of Knowledge, impacted me the most: well-paced, hard hitting, with the right mix of reading and writing and group and presenting assignments.  A top notch first year PhD level course anchored in a broad look at basic concepts and theories a PhD student needs to know as a researcher or practitioner.  Brings home why many of us embark on a PhD journey.  As important, the class is made up of the new PhD class cohorts which offers plenty of opportunity for bonding across the cohort.  It is the bonding and learning from other PhD and Masters students that are the most rewarding aspect of the PhD program.

Is there anything specific you would like to share with prospective students?

Apply! Also, quite a few of the PhD students are 10 or more years out since earning a Master Degree.  Don’t let that in any way dissuade you from applying.  Remember: If they say yes, you can say no; if they say no, you learn a bit about yourself and your next application will be stronger.