LaJoya Shelly, Educational Administration Doctoral Student

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LaJoya Shelly
“Deciding to pursue this degree in this department at this campus has been one of the best decisions I could have ever made.”
Hometown:

Blytheville, Arkansas

Department:

EDEA

Degree:

BA in General Studies, University of Dayton; MEd in Educational Administration, UH Mānoa; PhD in Educational Administration Student, UH Mānoa

What is your current position?
I am a graduate assistant in the Office of Student Academic Services (OSAS) at the College of Education. My primary responsibilities are advising and promoting graduate programs through the Graduate Information Office.

How did you help organize the Black Student Association on campus?
The Black Student Association (BSA) was established in 2015 in response to the lack of representation for black students, faculty, and staff at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. We meet every first and third Thursday in QLC, Room 412. I have served as President of this organization since 2016. During my tenure as President, BSA hosted the first Black Graduation Ceremony in over 20 years and experienced increases in student membership and engagement. I feel confident that BSA will continue to be part of our campus community for many years to come.

Why did you choose the Department of Educational Administration?
I stumbled upon the Department of Educational Administration (EDEA) by chance. My husband, who is a Navy submariner, received orders to Pearl Harbor in 2014. I knew I wanted to pursue a graduate degree and made an appointment to visit the department. Following my positive interactions with Drs. Stacy Roberts and Erin Kahunawai Wright, I made the decision to apply to the EDEF department. Deciding to pursue this degree in this department at this campus has been one of the best decisions I could have ever made.

Briefly describe your own path to college.
While I am not the first person in my family to pursue a post-secondary credential, I am the first person to pursue college in a traditional sense, or immediately following high school. Given my inexperience, I spent my undergraduate years trying to find “who I wanted to be when I grew up.” I am grateful for mentors who supported me during my uncertainty and were willing to share their own educational journeys. The support to pursue a PhD first came from my professors, then Interim Vice Chancellor for Diversity Dr. Christine Quemuel and Director of the Office of Student Academic Services, the late Dr. Niki Libarios. My educational journey is the direct result of positive mentoring relationships.

Who/what have been your biggest influences in your education?
My biggest influences are my mother and maternal grandmother. My maternal grandmother was only able to earn a 10th-grade education, and my mother earned her degrees after raising three children. In many ways, this degree is not my own. My success is a direct result of the sacrifices of my grandparents and parents.

What would you like to do after you earn your Ph.D.?
Personally, I hope to recharge and take a dream vacation with my husband. Professionally, I hope to become a professor of educational administration.