Johnathan Harris

Johnathan Harris Ed.D. Student Headshot
Ed.D. Student

Jonathan Harris Ed.D. Student FamilyWhat made you choose Marymount University for the pursuit of your Doctorate? 

Marymount University’s Ed.D course offerings stand out in the Commonwealth. I was immediately drawn to Ethical Leadership and Social Justice, Global Leadership and Policy and Challenges of Leadership: Conflict and Crisis Management.

This is a REAL-TIME Doctor of Education program. For example, my co-worker who is in the program with me was able to work together on several assignments that were immediately put into practice.

Marymount is innovative and not afraid to be bold and brave. That’s what also attracted me to Marymount University (MU). The Ed.D. program was and is 100% as advertised — and a lot more! 


What do you hope to accomplish by earning an Ed.D. degree? 

My goal was to fine-tune my leadership skills, explore any professional gaps or blind spots, stay relevant and up-to-date as a professional and contribute to the field of scholarly research. Additionally, earning this degree will hopefully position me to have more opportunities. 


What are your long-term professional and personal goals? 

My long-term professional goal is to continue being a change agent in education, whether it’s at the independent school or higher education level. I have aspirations to write a book about my journey opening an independent school called Lynnhaven School. Ultimately, my personal goal is to be a good daddy to my two-year-old daughter, Caydence Justice.


Tell us a bit about your background. 

I am the youngest of five children. I grew up on a hog farm in the mountains of Appalachia. Unlike many boys my age, my mornings before going to school were spent feeding hogs and cows.

I am a first-generation college student. I qualified for the Pell Grant if that gives anyone an indication of my financial situation. My parents were blue-collar factory workers who worked very hard to provide just the very basics for five children. Neither one of them had a college education, which equates to a lifestyle that was centered on humility and necessity.

My identity and values are based on the principles of ethics, hard work and sacrifice. I am fortunate enough to have carried the lessons I learned as a young boy into adulthood. I truly value time and commitment. I am a believer in working for what you want.

I would not trade how I grew up for anything. It shaped me into the man I am today. I am all the better for it. My childhood experiences are what brought me to this point in my life. I am the first in my entire family to have earned a doctorate degree. As a little boy, I vowed to break the “generational curse.” I did it. I am doing it.


What motivates you to complete an online program? 

The flexibility is great. I have had an opportunity to maintain my current employment, raise my two-year-old daughter and continue to be a provider for my family. I am a firm believer that you “don’t need school to learn” meaning a traditional brick-and-mortar building. I can acquire the same, if not more knowledge through self-study, synchronous learning opportunities and collaboration with co-workers, all the while being in my own home or local library.

If anyone thinks an online program, especially a doctorate, is easy — think again! It’s not for the faint of heart.


What do you think of the Ed.D. program so far?  

The best moment of this program was after I defended my dissertation. I was incredibly emotional.


What has been the biggest highlight of your experience? 

The biggest highlight was when my co-worker, who is also in the Ed.D. program, traveled to MU and delivered a bench that was made by our Lynnhaven School students. Additionally, I had an opportunity to meet Dr. Marotta, Dr. Azevedo, Dr. Hauth, and Dr. Frisenda.

To make everything come full circle, we had lunch with President Dr. Irma Beccera. She is a transformational leader! Everything she has envisioned has come to fruition. 


Anything else that you’d like to share? 

MU is poised for greatness. This University which was known on a regional level, has already reached national acclaim and recognition. I can’t wait to see what the future brings!