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Spotlight on Walden // Jan 29, 2016

Meet a Graduate: Monica Dunnagan, PhD in Psychology

After earning her MS in Psychology from Walden in 2011, Dr. Monica Dunnagan knew she needed to pursue her doctorate to redirect her career toward her passion—teaching the next generation of psychologists. A 2014 PhD in Psychology graduate who is now a faculty member at several higher education institutions, she also works as a consultant to deliver workshops about diversity and cultural barriers, and is an active volunteer in her community.

Here, Dr. Dunnagan shares how Walden bolstered her desire to create social change.

How has your education positively impacted your career?
In addition to serving as an associate faculty member at the University of Phoenix, I recently became an adjunct faculty member at King University where I teach psychology core courses including industrial and organizational psychology, theories of personality, statistics in the social sciences, and essentials of psychology. My mentor, fellow professors, and deans have expressed gratitude for working with a doctoral professor of my caliber; however, what is most important to me are the changes I am able to make in the classroom with the students.

The majority of my students are adult learners who work, just like I did, while going back to school. I use my life experiences to positively change the way students view their education and help them find their passions.

What have you accomplished as a volunteer?
I strongly believe that you create social change each time you volunteer to assist others. Each year, Walden organizes Global Days of Service to demonstrate the impact that social change agents can make. While I was pursuing my doctorate, I participated as a project leader for a team of volunteers during the weeklong event. Our work benefitted Mercy Housing in Lynnwood, Washington, an organization that provides low-income housing for a diverse group of families and a stable home where children can complete their education.

I am currently the national membership director for Xcellence Inc., a nonprofit based in Brownsville, Tennessee. Xcellence is an organization that supports and advocates for community leaders, business owners, entrepreneurs, churches, and organizations. Xcellence also develops and funds various community initiatives, including scholarship programs, coaching and mentoring sessions, and literacy programs. I find this role very fulfilling, because it allows me to give back to my community regularly.

What are some of your most recent accomplishments?
I am currently reworking my dissertation into a journal article for publication. I have also published a children's book, Your Legacy: Finding Your Roots, which encourages parents and children to spend quality time together reading and learning about culture and heritage. I have also published articles in Xcellence Community Magazine.

What advice do you have for current doctoral students?
During the dissertation journey, keep your eye on the light at the end of the tunnel to stay focused. Everyone at Walden works to help you develop your passion for social change. My time as a student taught me that my passion matters and that I can inspire and create social change one person at a time. Walden has changed my life!

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