A launching pad for success

Demetri Morgan

Demetri Morgan

Higher Education Ph.D., 2016

Before Penn GSE: Graduate student

After Penn GSE: Assistant Professor of Higher Education, Loyola University of Chicago

"Everyone at Penn GSE is there for your success."

When selecting a Ph.D. program, I knew the training and job development I’d receive at Penn GSE would make me stand out in a competitive job market. Having secure finances while I pursued my studies was also important to me and Penn GSE provided a generous stipend and healthcare package for doctoral students, and additional support for me as a student of color. The Fontaine Fellowship program provides professional development, conference travel support, and networking opportunities for underrepresented students.

Penn GSE faculty are respected pioneers in their field. Yet they don’t sit on their great reputation and resources – they’re open to feedback and to continued development. The program also encourages students to connect with multiple faculty members. This practice cultivated my interdisciplinary understanding and approach to higher education and ultimately my interdisciplinary research.

The research I’m doing at Loyola investigates the roles higher education plays in a diverse democracy. I’m hoping to demonstrate to policy makers what higher education can and should be doing as our democracy faces new challenges — cultivating citizens who are politically aware and engaged, able to interact across difference, and equitably navigating to and matriculating through higher education.

Everyone at Penn GSE is there for your success. When I was finishing up my dissertation my mother was diagnosed with cancer and her outlook wasn’t good. Higher education institutions are notoriously bureaucratic, and yet at Penn, they understood my situation and were dedicated to having me finish on time. It allowed me to get home for the summer and spend time with my Mom before she passed. Recalling the ways in which staff members and faculty pitched in to help support me is something I look back on very fondly.