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MTSU College of Education boasts first doctorate i...

MTSU College of Education boasts first doctorate in ‘student success’ higher-ed concentration

Brelinda Johnson is not just in the business of student success. She exemplifies it.

The Adams, Tennessee, native set a precedent Dec. 11 when she graduated with the inaugural education doctoral degree, an Ed.D., in a higher education concentration under MTSU’s Assessment, Learning and Student Success Program.

Dr. Brelinda Johnson became the first person to graduate in the higher education concentration of MTSU's Assessment, Learning and Student Success Program with her doctorate in education at the Dec. 11 commencement ceremony in Murphy Center. Johnson is the manager of the MTSU Scholars Academy. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Dr. Brelinda Johnson

Dr. Donald Snead, interim chair of the Womack Department of Educational Leadership

Dr. Donald Snead

“I’m excited for the people that get to come behind, and I hope to be an inspiration to those students that get to see the work that I did,” Johnson said. “Hopefully, they’ll want to progress to something similar in their fields.”

Johnson is uniquely qualified to achieve in this area because her job is manager of the MTSU Scholars Academy, an early arrival program within the Office of Student Success designed to help freshmen with an emphasis on first-generation and/or students or color by providing them with a supportive learning environment.

ALSS, the program that benefitted Johnson as a student, helps scholars learn the theories, techniques and best practices that they can use to lead students to higher levels of achievement.

Brelinda Johnson, manager of the MTSU Scholars Academy, is hooded at her commencement Dec. 11 commencement ceremony. Johnson is the first higher education concentration graduate of the Assessment, Learning and Student Success Program. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Brelinda Johnson, manager of the MTSU Scholars Academy, is hooded at her commencement Dec. 11 commencement ceremony. Johnson is the first higher education concentration graduate of the Assessment, Learning and Student Success Program. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

“The overarching purpose of the program is to prepare educators to be more effective in their work as practitioners,” said Donald Snead, interim chair of the Womack Department of Educational Leadership.

Johnson credited ALSS with broadening and deepening her understanding of what it takes to help students reach their goals.

“Since I work on campus and I work in student success, I was able to learn more about historical backgrounds, laws and policies … and how they apply to students,” Johnson said.

With balancing work and school a top priority, Johnson designated different days for working on different tasks to achieve the time management necessary to get things done.

“I created fake deadlines for me,” Johnson said. “If it was due at a certain time, I would tell myself it was due earlier than that so I could push myself to get it done before then.”

Johnson’s doctoral dissertation topic was the impact of family involvement on academic success in college by comparison of black students. It involved digging into student and family activities and asking what support really means and how different people define success.

Snead said he thinks Johnson has both the expertise and the personal attributes to succeed and to represent ALSS.

College of Education logo“I think as long as we offer a quality program and our program is measured by the people we graduate, we’re going to continue to have a lot of success,” Snead said.

Johnson said ALSS will attract great candidates just because of how it is structured.

“It’s not just theoretical,” Johnson said. “They’re actually putting the work in to help you get prepared for the next steps in your career.”

To learn more about the Assessment, Learning and Student Success Program and its higher education concentration, click here.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

Brelinda Johnson, manager of the MTSU Scholars Academy in the Office of Student Success, kneels slightly as her adviser, Donald Snead, drapes her new doctoral hood across her shoulders Dec. 11 during MTSU’s Fall 2021 commencement in Murphy Center. Johnson earned the university’s first doctoral degree with a higher education concentration in MTSU’s Assessment, Learning and Student Success Program. (Screen capture from MTSU Livestream)

Brelinda Johnson, manager of the MTSU Scholars Academy in the Office of Student Success, kneels slightly as her adviser, Donald Snead, drapes her new doctoral hood across her shoulders Dec. 11 during MTSU’s Fall 2021 commencement in Murphy Center. Johnson earned the university’s first doctoral degree with a higher education concentration in MTSU’s Assessment, Learning and Student Success Program. (Screen capture from MTSU Livestream)


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