My major professor, Dr. Bertrand-Jones, studies the population I am interested in working with. Florida State also had the best higher education administration degree program in the state of Florida and that was very attractive to me. As one who had exhausted all means of federal assistance for the financing of my education, it was very important that I acquired funding for my doctoral studies. The McKnight Doctoral Fellowship at Florida State University aligns directly with my goals to remain in higher education upon the completion of my PhD, and I am honored to be a recipient.
Motivation to pursue a graduate degree
I want my students to have professors that look like them. As a Black woman in the academy, my goal is to educate and advocate for students of color. I also want to contribute to the existing body of literature about Black women in higher education leadership roles and campus sexual assault that involves undergraduate women at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
As the mother of a teenager, my desire has always been to demonstrate to my daughter that anything you desire is possible no matter the circumstances. Pursuing my PhD once my daughter became a college student was an intentional decision because she is now a young adult and needs to see me doing what I encourage her to do.
Importance and impact of research
I believe it is important to conduct culturally responsible and relevant research so that the experiences of Black women are captured appropriately. As I conduct reviews of the current literature, I notice the limitations around research in my area of focus. I hope that my research informs professional development and recruitment of qualified Black women in upper administrative positions, especially the presidential spot at colleges and universities.
Advice for anyone considering graduate school
Take your time during the process of deciding on a school. Research several options for funding and support. Don’t be afraid to take a risk to move to a different city or state to pursue your degree. Also, consider that the four to six years you are studying will be full of sacrifices, long days, and a little stress but that it will all be worth it in the end.
I aspire to become tenured faculty and then ultimately an administrator in higher education. I would like to ascend to the role of university president. Witnessing women at the helm of HBCUs be replaced amidst discord, generally because of soured relationship with the board of trustees, faculty, and stakeholders, has fostered my desire to examine shared governance and Black women in presidential leadership.