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Spotlight on Walden // Jun 29, 2017

A Changed Man: Meet Graduate Dr. Melvin Murphy

Dr. Melvin Murphy

Dr. Melvin Murphy

For Dr. Melvin Murphy, a 2017 Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) graduate, the doctoral journey was challenging. “The doctoral program really changed me,” he says. “A colleague put it this way to me: ‘You don’t understand what a person has been through when they receive their doctoral degree unless you’ve done it yourself. Life will hit you.’ ”

And for Dr. Murphy, life hit him hard. In the time it took him to earn his DBA, he lost his mother, father, oldest brother, and nephew. He was also laid off from his job. While blow after blow could have stymied anyone, Dr. Murphy got real with himself. “Life doesn’t stop when you’re earning your doctorate. To get through it, I delayed my mourning. I had to become a serious student and continually ask myself, ‘Do I really want this? Why did I start this journey in the first place?’ ”

There are many reasons to earn your doctoral degree, including advancing your career. “I came into this program initially because I wanted to learn how to do proper research so I could write better articles and books,” says the marketing professor, sought-after speaker, and five-time author. “One time I received 192 comments on a paper, and that made me upset. The next time it was 220. Once I remembered my initial reason for earning my doctorate, I looked at those comments not with frustration but for the lesson or skill that I was supposed to learn from them.”

The doctoral journey is unquestionably an emotional experience. The key, he says, is to remove your emotions and take control of them before they take control of you. “Dr. Douglas Campbell, my dissertation committee chair, taught me that emotions can get in the way of critical thinking, and I carry this lesson with me into my own classroom.” Dr. Murphy also recommends learning how to separate the work, such as writing papers, from the process of learning to do the work. “It’s important to understand the difference between the work and the process. At this level, we know how to write; now, we’re learning how to write on a scholarly level with an academic voice.”

When Dr. Murphy enrolled in Walden’s DBA program, he had no idea his journey would have so many twists and turns. For years, he was working and preparing to run for a position on the Board of Supervisors for Fairfax County, Virginia. Now that he’s finished, he’s not quite sure if his desire to run remains; he thinks it’s more important not to start where you left off but rather where you are with your newfound degree and skill set. “As I look back, I cannot believe how much I have changed. My thinking is different, my writing is different, my approach to solving business problems is different, and my confidence is different,” says Dr. Murphy.

“Earning a doctoral degree can make grown men and women cry like babies, curse, and throw temper tantrums,” he adds. Yet now he’s set to walk across the stage in National Harbor with multiple job offers, including an invitation to apply for an assistant dean position; a nomination for Walden’s outstanding doctoral study award ; and more than 130 articles published in online business journals about the completion of his dissertation, Internal Strategies for Assessing Organizational Communication Channel Effectiveness. He has also started writing his sixth book, which is about personal branding, and plans to apply for a Fulbright Scholarship.

“I believe it was more about having the fortitude, a positive mental attitude, determination, and ambition to push through the challenges,” says Dr. Murphy. “I am using my degree to achieve the things I want—and it was worth it.”

—Jen Raider

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