What made you choose Marymount University for the pursuit of your Doctorate?
I chose Marymount because of the seamless application process, welcoming and supportive personnel, the convenience of doing all the work online from my home, and the opportunity to meet and grow with people from all over the United States. As a mom of 4 children, working full-time, and doing work with a nonprofit, this program offered me more time with my children and the convenience of completing the work when I am able.
What do you hope to accomplish by earning an Ed.D. degree?
Ultimately, I want to use the learning from this program to become a more equitable, inclusive and personable leader. I want to continue learning how to be a transformative leader in ways that were ignited in us during our ED-702 course. I took so many great nuggets of information and enormous growth from that course because it supported me in my professional growth and leadership within my school division. I am grateful that we had that class at such an opportune time.
Tell us a bit about your background up to this point – personal and/or professional.
I was a classroom teacher for 12 years in Title I schools. For a year, I was an Instructional Coach and then an Assistant Principal. During the pandemic, I became a Title I Educational Specialist, and I am now the Title I Coordinator for FCPS. I love my job and continue to be amazed at my team, schools, administrators, teachers and students. There is no limit to the great work you can accomplish when you are passionate about what you do.
This year has been a tough one for my family as we lost my cousin, Adam, due to a hazing incident at Virginia Commonwealth University. We took our grief and transformed it into change. We created the Love Like Adam Foundation that educates students, parents and educators on the dangers of hazing, bystander intervention and alcohol intoxication. The foundation gives three scholarships each year to high school seniors who demonstrate good character and a big heart like Adam’s. My uncle and I worked with Senator Jennifer Boysko and Delegate Kathleen Murphy to create Adam’s law, which was just passed in the Virginia General Assembly and signed this past April by Governor Youngkin. We created the law by identifying three things Adam didn’t have that night - hazing education, someone willing to call for help, and background knowledge on the fraternity history. The law makes it mandatory that all states must deliver hazing education to all their students and advisors. It creates transparency by enforcing schools to post all incidents of hazing on their websites where it is easily accessible to students and parents, and it gives bystander immunity if they call for help. The law took effect on July 1st. Right now, I am part of a team of educators building a hazing curriculum for our high schools, universities and parents. The curriculum should launch this August and we will measure the effectiveness and share results in my dissertation in practice next year.
What motivates you to complete an online program?
My children. I wake up at 5 a.m. to do my work before they wake up or I do the work after they are in bed. I still get quality time with them after school and do my job during the day. The online program has given me a great opportunity to continue to spend time with my family while earning my degree and furthering my education. Attempting to find a work, school and home balance is a difficult task, but the flexibility of this program allows me to do just that.
What are your long-term professional and personal goals?
I’d like to get my Doctor of Education and continue my pursuit of research on hazing to hopefully one day make true, deeply rooted change in our student organizations across the state of Virginia and at a national level. I’d like to use the learning from this program to continue developing my leadership skills and professional career to achieve my dream of being Title I Director in a Virginia school division and continue my work in higher education by being a professor for undergraduate students.
What do you think of the Ed.D. program so far?
I truly believe this program has empowered my voice, leadership, actions, confidence and mindset to make real change in our state of Virginia. It has given me the confidence to speak out against dangerous issues in our society impacting our students. For the first time in a long time, I believe in myself and my ability as an educator to create a positive culture and community within my office.
The professors and my cohort family are by far my favorite part of this program. The support system Cohort B has created is unbreakable and we are all there for one another. We help keep each other on track and make sure no one gets left behind. We reach out to each other with questions and encouragement. The professors are patient, flexible and quick to communicate with you if you need them. They are kind, but critical when you need that feedback to improve your work. I wouldn’t be where I am right now without each of them.
What is the biggest highlight of your experience with the MU Ed.D. program?
My Lead Doctoral Faculty Mentor, Dr. Ruth Boyd. Hands down the greatest support I could ask for in this program. She meets with me weekly to ensure I’m keeping up with my dissertation in practice. She gives me a different perspective and helps me think outside the box, and she’s a sounding board when I need to get things off my chest in order to move forward with an assignment or research. She’s always calm and keeps me grounded in this work. I hope to continue working with her even after the program is complete.
Love Like Adam Foundation Featured on Fox News
As a part of her dissertation in practice, Courtney White is actively involved in developing curriculum to educate middle school, high school, and college students about the dangers of hazing and what to do in the midst of a hazing situation. Hear Courtney speak more about her work with the Love Like Adam Foundation in this interview with Fox News.