While in law school, Patrick Ober realized he wanted to work to positively change education laws and policies and affect how learning is promoted. That realization led him to the School of Education, where he received his Ph.D. in History, Philosophy, and Policy in Education with a Specialization in Education Policy Studies.

“I am fascinated with how much the law affects educational policies and practices, student outcomes, and eventually how our entire society learns and grows. To me, education policy is a foundational part of our lives.”

Ober currently serves as the Disability Rights and Advocacy Specialist for the Center for Independent Living Options (CILO) in Cincinnati, Ohio. CILs are nonprofit organizations that provide services and supports for people with disabilities that are seeking to live independent and inclusive lives within their communities.

“My role as Disability Rights and Advocacy Specialist with CILO is to engage in both individual and systems-based advocacy for individuals with disabilities.” Ober explained. “With individual advocacy, I provide guidance and supports for someone with a disability to learn how to better advocate for themselves in different situations in their lives. I may also provide direct assistance to a person we serve that has an issue with things such as workplace or housing discrimination, questions about healthcare benefit options for someone with a disability, or how to contact local or state agencies to get information or resolve questions or concerns. In systems-advocacy, I serve on local and state coalitions and committees as the CILO representative to promote changes in laws, policies and practices that are either issues identified by people with disabilities as ones they want changed or would create better opportunities for inclusion and independence within their communities.”

Ober says his doctorate has an immense impact on how he works: identifying issues and solutions within policy problems and thinking and writing critically for various audiences, not to mention his focus on educational rights and policies for students with disabilities, are all skills he strengthened through getting his Ph.D.

“Ultimately, my training in education policy has given me a tremendous foundational understanding of how people with disabilities should be respected and supported from school-age through adulthood,” he said.

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