How a Walden doctorate creates pathways of possibility

From teaching college classes to starting a new business, a doctoral degree is applicable to numerous career options because it gives you a framework for studying a problem as well as its existing and potential solutions. Here, six alumni share the trajectory of their doctoral journeys and encourage others to pursue new heights both academically and professionally. As they demonstrate, the completion of a doctoral degree is not the end, but rather the beginning of new opportunities.

Dr. Avon Hart-Johnson

Dr. Avon Hart-Johnson ’15, ’11
PhD in Human Services and MS in Forensic Psychology
Adjunct Professor, President at DC Project Connect, Principal Consultant at NTT DATA, Maryland

After completing her MS, Dr. Avon Hart Johnson was “hungry for more,” she says. “I wanted to enact transformative change, to be a voice for the marginalized. I knew I needed to become a subject matter expert.” She focused her dissertation on the psychosocial ways male incarceration affects African-American prisoners’ wives. She narrowed down her sample to the Washington, DC, area, where the local prison had closed and inmates had been relocated to 103 prisons around the country. Hart Johnson found that her subjects were suffering grief akin to the death of a loved one and were socially isolating themselves to the point where they too felt imprisoned.

In March, she presented her findings on Capitol Hill. She asked for legislation to be modified so that offenders could be held within a 250-mile radius of the DC area to ease the effects on their families. She’s only just begun—and expects Walden has, too. “Because Walden stresses social change, it became part of my DNA,” she says. “I expect that within the next decade, you’re going to see a lot of change enacted by this community.”

Dr. John Mohl

Dr. John Mohl ’14
PhD in Psychology
Teacher at Cheltenham Township School District

“A PhD symbolizes dedication to an academic endeavor,” says Dr. John Mohl. “I have embraced critical thinking, conducted research, and investigated ideas that have led to a better understanding of my field. That’s crucial to continuing my work as an independent researcher.” Mohl teaches AP psychology and U.S. history, and he is also a part-time psychology instructor at Bucks County Community College.

But he is also deeply involved in the American Psychological Association (APA), particularly its hypnosis division. Mohl is committed to continuing his dissertation research, which focused on how hypnosis can improve educational outcomes. He has delivered more than eight presentations and workshops at APA meetings throughout the U.S. and Canada. “My involvement in APA has brought me new connections that have allowed me to collaborate and continue my research around the country,” he says.

Dr. Liz Herman

Dr. Liz Herman ’09

PhD in Applied Management & Decision Sciences (now PhD in Management)
Director of Health and Analytics Unit at Battelle

“So much work goes into the dissertation,” says Dr. Liz Herman. “I didn’t want to walk away after I was done.” So she continues to collaborate with her case study sponsor on the knowledge-management project she initiated: instituting staff motivation and efficient work processes, and capturing lessons learned to demonstrate how the organization’s productivity continues to improve.

Earning her PhD showed the hiring committee at Battelle, a nonprofit charitable trust, that she could think critically and communicate complex ideas. Herman was hired to work with scientists, public health experts, epidemiologists, and high-level statisticians, and she now uses her doctorate “by conducting qualitative and quantitative analysis, and translating that information to the marketplace,” she says. Her unit at Battelle focuses on improving health and creating positive health impacts. “I’m bringing Walden’s focus on social change forward every day,” Herman says.

Dr. Preston H. Long

Dr. Preston H. Long ’02

PhD in Health Services
Adjunct Professor, Public Health Program, Bryan University, Arizona

Dr. Preston H. Long moved from court testimonies to college teaching thanks to his PhD. For many years he was a chiropractor and ran his own company—Evidence Based Health Services Inc.—through which he served as an expert witness in the review of medical records and health processes and procedures. Long recently dissolved the company, and with the help of his PhD, made the leap to academia, “the big shiny red apple,” as he calls it.

For two years now, Long has been an associate professor in Bryan University’s Master of Science in Healthcare Informatics and Analytics program. Now, he’s welcoming another opportunity. Long is an adjunct professor in Bryan University’s new public health program, with hopes of becoming the program’s first director. Long’s overall goal, he says, is “inspiring critical thinking among students in the field of health sciences, using evidence based medicine to improve patient safety.”

Dr. Catherine Davis

Dr. Catherine Davis ’14, ’11

EdD and EdS in Teacher Leadership
Lead Instructor and Curriculum Scheduling Coordinator, Intensive English Language Institute at University of Texas—Tyler

While completing her doctoral studies, Dr. Catherine Davis helped create a new Intensive English Language Institute at the University of Texas—Tyler, and moved from a part-time position to full time. The institute assists international students in improving their academic English language skills, and prepares them for university matriculation.

Working closely with the executive director of the Office of International Programs, Davis put her studies into practice, including curriculum design, discussion facilitation, teaching expertise, and research in developing a language institute. Since opening last year with only a few students, the institute has added three instructors and now serves students from 13 countries. “My EdD provides scholarly support to the institute, and I’m involved in social change every day,” Davis says. “We’re having a positive impact on students’ lives and their future goals to effect positive social change, beyond just their education, which is exactly what Walden did for me.” Dr. Dennie Beach

Dr. Dennie Beach ’10

PhD in Public Policy and Administration
CEO & President at Go Africa Network Inc. and ASG Global Trade Inc.

Dr. Dennie Beach undertook his PhD with a purpose: To study and understand the challenges facing socioeconomic development in Africa. “I approached my PhD as a project,” he says, “breaking down the requirements, research, and knowledge areas to build the direction in which I wanted to go.”

The PhD program helped Beach realize that to solve the problem that was closest to his heart—improving development opportunities in Africa—he needed to look at it from a variety of perspectives before “rolling up my sleeves and doing the work.” In 2014, Beach founded Go Africa Network Inc., a nonprofit that advances the trade of African commodities, technologies, and goods and services throughout the world by linking emerging markets in Africa with trade, training, and educational opportunities. He also founded ASG Global Trade Inc. to help fund the nonprofit and ensure the success of both organizations. “My PhD gave me the expertise and credibility to lead my organizations to success,” Beach says. “Walden teaches you to do things the right way the first time—and I have!”

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