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Delta State’s Newly Minted Doctors Present Research

(L to R) Dr. Heather Miller, Dr. Caroline Fletcher, Dr. April Mondy

CLEVELAND, Miss. — Delta State University’s three newest employees to earn their doctorates presented summaries of their research Tuesday, April 25 in Caylor Hall. Dr. James Gerald, Dean of Graduate and Continuing Studies welcomed the attendees before turning over the floor to the presenters.

Dr. Caroline Fletcher, Digital Media Coordinator for the Office of Communications and Marketing, has earned a Ph.D. in Sport Management from Troy University. She presented the research that went into her dissertation, Shooting for Equality: Division II Basketball Coaches’ Perceptions of Gender Discrimination. She said, “In one of my first classes in the program, Sport Ethics, I chose to write a paper on female underrepresentation in sports. That initially sparked the passion, but personal and professional experiences continued to stoke the fire, further validating the importance and need for this kind of research.”

Dr. Fletcher said that the most challenging aspect of her process was the end. “I was motivated to defend and finish my degree before I gave birth to my second child, and I did!” she said. “I defended at 7 months pregnant, waddled across the graduation stage at 8 months pregnant and had my second child a month later. It was one of the proudest moments of my life.”

Dr. Fletcher believes that her research and terminal degree in sports management have laid the foundation for her long-term aspiration of becoming a collegiate athletic director. She said, “In the meantime, I will continue teaching adjunct in the HPER department and influencing the minds of the next generation of young sports professionals, especially the women.”

Dr. Heather Miller, Director of the Office of Institutional Grants, has earned an Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Southern Mississippi. She presented the research that went into her dissertation, Programs that Increase Retention at Delta State University. She said, “I was interested in finding ways to support students at Delta State through grant funding. However, I became interested in understanding the target population’s needs beyond a professional scope. It became important to me personally.”

Dr. Miller spoke to the challenges of pursuing a doctorate as well. “The most challenging part was work and life balance,” she said. “I was a full-time mom, wife, daughter, student, and employee simultaneously. I could not have done this without my supervisor and family’s support.”

Dr. Miller plans to use her research for future grant applications. “I want to show funders that DSU needs these support programs for its students,” she said.

Dr. April Mondy, Instructor in Management in the DSU Division of Management, Marketing, & Business Administration, has earned a Ph.D. in Business Administration from the University of South Alabama. She presented the research that went into her dissertation, To Serve and Deplete: Exploring Outcomes of Emotional Exhaustion in Servant Leadership and the Moderating Role of Self-Leadership. She said, “This research was initially inspired by experience and observation, but it was in conversations with my dissertation chair and identifying the need in organizations that the topic solidified. Ultimately, I want my research to be meaningful and relevant, something people can learn and benefit from. Pursuing an area that could help organizational leaders was a driving factor in this research.”

Dr. Mondy said that she was most challenged by being stretched extremely thin from carrying the load of being a full-time student and a full-time instructor and the emotional, physical, and psychological toll that took. She said, “I am very blessed, however, that I had a strong support system through family and friends. I would not have survived this process without them holding me up; this was undoubtedly a communal effort.”

Dr. Mondy said that she hopes to continue to grow as a researcher and an educator and to have more opportunities to do work that has a positive impact.

Dr. Gerald thanked those in attendance, then closed the event with an invitation to a reception being held in the presenters’ honor.