Married Arkansas couple earns doctoral degrees together

Married Arkansas couple earns doctoral degrees together

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A married couple has continued their shared love for education by getting their doctorate degrees together at Arkansas Tech University.

Sherman and Sonya Whitfield graduated on Friday, May 10 and earned a Doctor of Education degree in school leadership.

The Whitfields not only got their doctorates together but their journey started when they got master’s degrees as well.

“I’m very proud of what we’ve done, but I’m also very humbled,” Sonya said. “We’ve been very blessed and fortunate to complete this journey, much less complete it together.”

Sonya said her love for education began when she took a summer job a daycare. From there, she knew she was “supposed to be in education.”

While she was teaching at an elementary school in Pine Bluff she met Sherman, who was a senior at the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff at the time.

Although he wanted to pursue a career with the FBI, he thought “it would be pretty good to raise a family, be able to teach school and be on that same schedule.”

“After I started teaching, I decided to go and get my administrator’s license and Sonya tagged along for moral support,” Sherman said.

But not long after, Sonya joined Sherman on his educational journey and the two are now sharing their doctorate successes together.

Sherman is currently working as the director of pupil services at the Pulaski County Special School District. Sonya is principal at Baker Elementary School, which is a part of the same school district.

Sonya wrote her dissertation on National Board Certified Teachers and the impact they have on “student achievement in mathematics and reading in the PCSSD.” Sherman’s dissertation was about the “experiences and perceptions of students who attended segregated and desegregated schools.”

“To represent the past generations of my family, I am in awe,” Sherman said. “The worst thing for me is not failing…it’s not trying. Do it. Just do it. Don’t leave it in your mind five years from now.”