Consulting Capstone Project Reignites DBA Student’s Passion for Learning
When Dr. Tammy Jameson was chosen to participate in the Consulting Capstone pilot, an alternative to the traditional doctoral study for her Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program at Walden, she was excited, honored, and humbled.
Her academic journey had been a bumpy one. She had successfully obtained a bachelor’s degree and a Master of Business Administration (MBA), but 10 years ago, she found herself as a single mother with two children. She knew that a doctoral degree would open the door to new opportunities. Jameson enrolled in a PhD program at another university but “was just going through the motions.” Discouraged by the lack of support, she gave up. It wasn’t until a colleague at the U.S. Department of Defense suggested she look into the DBA program at Walden, where he was currently a student, that she decided her academic journey wasn’t yet over. She said, “I had a lack of passion, but Walden changed my perspective.”
Jameson was hand-selected to participate in the pilot Consulting Capstone project, in which she would serve as a consultant to a Minneapolis nonprofit, Youth Performance Company. At first, she doubted whether she could provide the kind of value the nonprofit sought, but with the support of her mentor, Dr. Jan Garfield, and her advisor, Dr. Fred Walker, she became more confident. Jameson and other students participating in the Consulting Capstone utilize the Baldrige Excellence Framework to guide their work in improving their clients’ business models and helping them achieve their strategic objectives. She said, “I had to learn to trust the process, and over time, I saw everything come to fruition. From analyzing organizational documents to creating a strategic plan, I saw the value of the services I was providing, and my client did, too.”
“One of the greatest benefits of the project is the ability to gain consulting experience,” said Jameson. “The project teaches you how to be a leader and how to help an organization solve a business problem—experience that scholar-consultants can use in both current and future careers.”
Jameson’s client, Jacie Knight, artistic director and founder of Youth Performance Company, raved about the experience. “Working with Tammy forced me to think reflectively and communicate our mission, challenges, and successes on a deeper level. It was invaluable to have an objective set of eyes and ears to confirm what we already suspected were areas for improvement, and offer tangible steps to meet our goals.”
Jameson encourages others to apply for the Consulting Capstone, which is now offered in the DBA, PsyD in Behavioral Health Leadership, and Doctor of Education (EdD) programs. “It’s a great opportunity to gain hands-on experience and is the first step to putting your degree to work,” she said. “It helped me obtain knowledge, confidence, and a new skill set, which gave me the ability to become an effective social change agent in my community and the world.”
Of the Consulting Capstone experience, she says it has prepared her to reach her potential beyond graduation.
“The greatest lesson I learned is that being successful in business and life all boils down to communication. This experience has changed the way I view everything—from how I interact with people to how I run the household. I want to be the solution, not the problem.”