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My End of Year Doctoral Horror Story

  Hey guys! Ms. Duggan is back! I know it’s been awhile since I updated my blog but as you know I was working in Italy as a mental health clinician on an archaeological dig site. Don’t worry you will get ALL the details later. I’m finally back at work and getting back to my normal busy life and things are going well so far. But around the time I got back into the swing of things I had a major doctoral catastrophe! (Figure 1: This is a thumbnail of my latest YouTube video “My Doctoral Horror Story” where I am looking at the camera with a terrified look.) While I was away, I was still enrolled in two courses that had been going pretty well. I actually finished one while I was in Italy and received an A in the course.   The other course had one last assignment due that I planned to finish once I got back to the states. However, to my surprise it was due while I was in Italy and I was totally not prepared to finish it. (Figure 2: This is a photo of Ms. Jay, an African American male fashion

Where Are The Black People in Higher Education?


Where are the Black people in Higher Education? This is a question that I have posed to myself upon entering this field in the summer of 2019. As someone who worked in K-12 for several years with each of my principals being Black and the majority of the students being Black this was very shocking to me. In honor of Black History Month, I decided to bring this topic to the forefront to inquire about the lack of representation in this area.

Figure 1: This is a YouTube thumbnail of my latest video “Where are the Black People in Higher Education?” I am sitting in my office looking at the camera wearing a black shirt that says “Curls, Kinks, and Waves”.

As you know, I currently work in Disability Services at a university. The crux of my position is ensuring that students with disabilities are provided with accommodations to ensure their success throughout their college experience. At the end of last year I met with a student who was a Black young lady seeking services through our office. The student immediately let me know that they were very honored to be working with someone who looked just like them as that had not been their experience previously. She looked at the diploma frames and awards hanging on my wall and told me how inspired she was. This was a full circle moment for me as I remember being that same young woman looking at someone else’s plaques on the wall and hoping that one day I would have the same. 

Figure 2: This is a photo of my diploma frames and awards hanging in my office. There is one diploma frame, one certificate, and four awards. There is one diploma frame missing.


Representation matters. This is a key example of this. Seeing someone who looks just like you throughout your educational journey provides inspiration, a voice, and an ally. In my own educational journey I remember being an undergraduate and having difficulty with passing the required math courses. This was something that I had always struggled with but it was not until I sat down with a Black counselor that I learned that I should be tested to learn more about my struggles in this area. After being tested, I found out that I had Dyscalculia, a math disability that affected my success in math. This diagnosis helped me to obtain accommodations that ultimately helped me to pass.


Figure 3: This is a photo of me standing in my office in front of my desk with my hands folded.

 In graduate school, I decided to become a part of a dual program for Mental Health Counseling and Vocational Rehabilitation. However, I was told that I could not opt into the Mental Health portion due to my undergraduate degree not being in Psychology. However, after sitting down with my program coordinator who was Black she informed me that this was perfectly fine and all I needed to do was take the courses to be able to apply for licensure. Today I am now a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate thanx to this advice.

Figure 4: This is a photo of me in my graduate hood holding my graduation cap in front of a building that says FIU. There is a fountain in the background and I am wearing a pink dress with Louboutin heels.


Without representation, I personally would have been negatively impacted throughout my higher education experience. With the lack of visibility in this area, I wonder how this will affect other minority students. Did you experience a lack of representation throughout your higher education experience? Why do you think there are not many Black faculty and staff members in higher education? Drop down in the comments and let me know! Be sure to check out my video for more information and subscribe to my email list so you can be the first to know about any updates! 


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