Brandie Medina on Friday made history at St. Edward’s University when she became the first Black woman to graduate from the school with a doctorate. The 42-year-old was joined by six other students as part of the first cohort to complete the university’s first-ever doctoral program, American-Statesman reported. The program was designed to prepare students for success in the rapidly changing world of postsecondary education, according to the school’s website.
Medina’s parents are among the university’s alumni. Her father earned his undergraduate degree and later his master’s degree from St. Edwards. Her mother also received her undergraduate degree from the university.
Medina attended Prairie View A&M University for her undergraduate and master’s degrees but her will to study at her parents’ alma mater pushed her to start the virtual Doctorate of Education of Leadership and Higher Education program at St. Edward’s in fall 2019.
“It’s not really highly expected of Black individuals to go to predominantly white institutions, so for both of my parents to finish their degrees there, and to go off and become highly successful, that resonated with me,” Medina told American-Statesman. “It showed me that by going to St. Edward’s and finishing my doctorate degree, as long as I persevere, I can be highly successful as well.”
The Doctorate of Education of Leadership and Higher Education program “teaches students how to handle crises, maintain ethics in leadership and research postsecondary education — all through a lens of diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice, multiple students and administrators,” American-Statesman explained.
Medina wrote her dissertation on “The Intersectionality of the Professional Black Woman in Education Administration.” Medina is an early college administrator in the High Island Independent School District near Galveston. She chose a career in education to help students succeed. She has been in the education sector for 20 years now, starting as a prekindergarten teacher in Houston’s Third Ward to her present role as an administrator.
Being a mom of four living in a women’s shelter, she faced several challenges while pursuing a doctorate. She said Wi-Fi at the shelter she lived in was so unreliable, hence, she had to drive to a library on weekends to finish her class assignments. Medina could have given up, but she knew she wanted more for herself, she said.
“I knew that I wanted more for my kids. I knew that, if I were to give up, I’m going to end up right back where I started. I’ll still be a classroom teacher. There would be no growth in giving up.”
According to the National Science Foundation’s Survey of Earned Doctorates, 4.4% of doctoral degrees are earned by Black women. This makes the story of Medina important.