Quadruple + Jags!

Three doctoral students stand in regalia

At the Graduate Hooding and Commencement ceremony on May 9, 2024, Stefanee Berry, Carissa Parrish, and Taylor Thompson, all three graduates of the Doctor of Education in Educational Innovation program, wore special honor cords with three braid colors. That’s because they are Quadruple+ Jags, meaning that they are earning their fourth (or more) degree from Augusta University!

Why AU and why here for all their degrees? Berry, EdD, says that it met her criteria. “It was local, affordable, and offered a strong sense of community that resonated deeply with my educational values.” For her, being close to her support network was important, as was affordability. But what kept her here was the university’s “close-knit community” and how the professors “foster an environment where students can thrive.” Parrish, EdD, says that she attended AU because the programs allowed her to “grow professionally.” She says that “I yearned for more knowledge that aligned with my aspirations and continued to come back.” Thompson, EdD, says that she originally began her career at AU because of the “strong partnership between the College of Education and Human Development and the CSRA’s [Central Savannah River Area’s] K-12 schools.” Starting in her undergraduate program and continuing in her integrated master’s program, Thompson relished her field experiences and student teaching in the local area. “I was able to personalize many facets of my experience–including study abroad, a short stint in undergraduate research, and a graduate assistantship–and I enjoyed having strong connections with my professors.” All three said that choosing to return to AU for another program was an easy decision.

Stefanee Berry
Stefanee Berry, EdD

All three students highlighted favorite moments in their student careers, including their sense of satisfaction once they had successfully defended their dissertations. But beyond completion, each had memories that informed their careers. Parrish explains that her doctoral work was organized “in a cohort model,” which provided “a transformative experience that was distinct from my work environment, fostering lifelong relationships that have since blossomed into valuable networking and career opportunities.” Thompson recalls a favorite moment while “teaching a mock lesson in a Classroom Management course, complete with an improv-style ‘classroom emergency’ that was enacted by my peers. Although I was anxious about that experience, it ultimately gave me confidence and helped me to enjoy the more theatrical side of teaching.” Berry found that it was the “great relationships with fellow educators in the program” that will stand out as a highlight. She also “loved going to basketball games” at AU and would often take her family with her. A real Jag, through and through.

Each of these Jags notice particular elements that continued through the heart of AU through each of their degrees. Berry noticed that the AU value of “Inclusivity” is everywhere: “From professor to administrative assistant alike, everyone has been easy to work and connect with, assisting me in my studies or various administrative issues, and more.” All three students noted AU’s interdisciplinary learning as a strength. Thompson says that one of her favorite things about AU is that “there are always avenues to craft one’s own unique path.” Parrish tells us that the themes of “perseverance, resilience, and openness” pushed her “to become an innovational influencer.” One of the major themes expressed by all three of these accomplished women is how supportive their faculty members have been throughout their journey. Thompson expressed gratitude to many of her professors in “multiple colleges at AU,” who helped her to achieve academic and professional success. She gives thanks for her dissertation partner, “Samantha Holness, and our dissertation committee, Dr. Darla Linville (Chair), Dr. Laura Rychly, Dr. Kelly Allen, and Dr. Rhia Moreno” for their “rock-solid support” and influence. Two of our “Quadruple+ Jags” named the same faculty member as the person they would most like to mention: Dr. Rebecca Harper. Berry says that Harper is a fantastic mentor and “extremely approachable and willing to spend extra time outside of class hours to help students.” Parrish calls Harper “a constant source of inspiration. Her ability to create an environment that fuels the desire for change and welcomes challenging conversations is truly remarkable.”

Carissa Parish standing in front of the bell tower
Carissa Parrish, EdD
Taylor Thompson standing in graduation regalia
Taylor Thompson, EdD









Three doctoral students stand in front of yellow building
[Photos by Rebecca Gaylor, The Graduate School]
These students have not only graduated from AU again and again, but they continue to be our outreach team. From taking field notes at Arts in the Heart of Augusta to teaching in our local CSRA schools, these education majors – now doctors – take with them the values of AU, which are collegiality, compassion, excellence, inclusivity, integrity, and leadership. We wish them and all of our TGS and AU graduates the very best in their careers.

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Written by
Dr. Wendy Turner
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