Sylvia Gray | EAHE | SIU

Southern Illinois University



Educational Administration and Higher Education

Sylvia Gray

Ph.D. Student, Education Administration and Higher Education

A picture of Sylvia in a wine colored topWhy I chose a Ph.D.

When asked why she chose to pursue a Ph.D. in Higher Education, Sylvia Gray, had the following to say:

Upon completion of my Ph.D., I would like to serve in both an administrative and faculty capacity (at a university within the Midwest or Southeast as these area are close to home). I believe that it takes a blend of scholar-practitioners and practitioner-scholars to advance the dual purposes of academia and administration in reaching any educational mission. In terms of research, I wish to continue pursing topics related to the areas of identity, privilege, policy, higher ed law, and Black Women in STEM. My hope is that research in these areas will serve as an asset in my journey toward a tenure-track position. My educational goals also include a desire to eventually teach and work at a university overseas and on the campus of a Historically Black College and University (HBCU). I enjoy working with all types of students, so I aspire to extend my service and scholarship to other populations in different educational and geographical environments. I have a sincere enjoyment for student mentor-ship which makes me look forward to using the rest of my career to support other ambitious scholars in reaching their goals. 

I chose to pursue a Ph.D. as a personal challenge and a professional strategy. Pursuing an education in which I would actually go to college and "make something of myself" was not always an immediate goal of mine. I did not see college as a tangible or affordable option.  I was fortunate enough to have great mentors, in my teenage years, who gave me encouragement and helped me to navigate the particulars of applying to college and continuing on to graduate studies.  The mentorship I received, my personal experiences, and the various issues within higher education are what fuel my desire to take on the journey of a Ph.D. program.  I believe that continuing my education is a strategy that will allow me to use my platform of knowledge to do three things: 1. Help others to advance toward their goals, 2. Contribute various narratives and research perspectives to scholarship, and 3. Find and help implement solutions to problems in education.           
When we asked if Sylvia had any advice for students considering the Ph.D. track, she offered these words of wisdom:

If you are considering the Ph.D. track, the advice I can offer is to first ask questions! Be clear about what you are getting yourself into no matter what your motivation may be. Also, think about doing a thesis track if one is offered for your master's program. If you know you want to gain a Ph.D., but you are unsure of your topic area, try to keep a journal or notepad of topics that interest you as you go through undergrad, graduate school, or your professional career. If your passions or interests are widespread, draw a map of how they might connect, then read and determine what the literature says about those areas. At the very least, read and develop interests! If possible, try to have 3 or more years of professional work experience to draw from before entering a Ph.D. program. It could serve you well when reading and framing information as well as contributing in classes that are seminar or discussion based.  Finally, life will happen while you attend school. Make your program a serious priority by discussing the potential sacrifices and time commitment with your family, spouse, children, or organizations/place of worship where you may spend or volunteer your time. The Ph.D. is a "Pretty Huge Deal" so no "Potential Heavy Drinking" while you "Patiently Hope to get Done."