From: UC News
Terri Hurdle, a first-generation college student, achieves her dreams of earning a doctoral degree in higher education.
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Dottie Stover
Terri Hurdle, a program coordinator for UC’s Student Activities and Leadership Development (SALD), has dedicated much of her career at UC to building leadership among students of color. At the University of Cincinnati Commencement Ceremony on June 8, she will march with fellow students who are earning their Doctor of Education degree in urban educational leadership.
The program prepares educational leaders who want to make a positive difference in urban schools and the lives of urban youth. Hurdle, a first-generation college student, says she understands firsthand the challenges that these students face, and she adds that her success in higher education has been largely due to the support systems she discovered during her undergraduate years in college.
Born to a single mother, Hurdle says she was raised by her maternal grandmother and grandfather beginning at age 11. A Cincinnati native, she says her grandmother – who had been a longtime employee of University Hospital – paid tuition for Hurdle to attend Purcell Marion High School, a parochial college preparatory school.
Upon her high school graduation, she initially set out for Tuskegee University, a private, historically black university in Alabama. Encountering financial struggles as she faced sole responsibility for funding her college education, Hurdle says she returned to Cincinnati and began pursuing her undergraduate studies as a part-time student at Xavier University. “I struggled that first year,” she says. “Then, I had a talk with myself and said, ‘You wanted to go to school, now you’re going to do it.’ I came back full time, I studied and I got heavily involved in school, which was one of the best experiences for me. I served on student programming boards and was president of the Black Student Association.”
Hurdle earned her bachelor’s degree in political science and then her master’s degree in criminal justice from Xavier University.
Immediately after graduation, Hurdle says she became the first full-time staff member to be hired for Xavier’s multicultural affairs office. Through that position, she was recruited by UC’s African American Cultural and Resource Center (AACRC) after making a guest presentation at UC for the AACRC Choir and the Brothers and Sisters Excelling (BASE) program – a peer mentoring and role modeling program at UC that’s designed to aid in the human development and retention of African-American students.
Hurdle credits her sorority, Sigma Gamma Rho, for helping her build her leadership skills, including her mentor, Rhonda Newman, assistant professor for the School Counseling Program at Xavier, and Hurdle’s sorority big sister, Venita E. Brown. “I had battled so many things about myself as far as having confidence. I didn’t think I belonged anywhere, but then through my sorority I was given so many leadership opportunities. That’s what led to the basis of my doctoral dissertation.”
|Terri Hurdle, a UC student coordinator for SALD, receives congratulations from graduating seniors Ronald Hart-Brown and Nigel Mask.|
“Dr. Hurdle’s dissertation represents an in-depth, qualitative analysis of the role of black Greek letter organizations in the leadership development of African-American women in predominantly white institutions,” says James Koschoreck, associate professor and chair of Hurdle’s dissertation committee. “Her passion for this topic stems from her own dedication and commitment to the enhancement of leadership skills amongst African-American women. As the program coordinator of Student Activities and Leadership Development, her nurturing disposition allows her to impact the lives of many university students.”
“As long as we have individuals, such as Terri, working at UC, we have hope for achieving equality and social justice for our under-represented and disenfranchised students," says dissertation committee member Lanthan Camblin, education professor emeritus.
As program coordinator, Hurdle works with hundreds of UC’s undergraduate and graduate student organizations. She also provides assistance for the UC student program, Emerging Ethnic Leaders, a support program to encourage students of color to become more engaged in the UC community and in student leadership at UC.
National research suggests students who feel connected to their campus are more likely to stay. Hurdle herself is a success story after building connections to her education in and out of the classroom.
Hurdle also advocates student policy at UC, trains advisors for student organizations and works with the Student Activities Board, which supports the registration, promotion and regulation of student groups at UC.
As she worked full time and pursued her doctoral degree, Hurdle says she felt the support of fellow students and colleagues. She says that her qualitative and quantitative research toward her doctoral degree will build on her skills in serving students. “I also have developed even more empathy for students who are doing the delicate balance of class, work and activities,” says Hurdle.
UC Commencement Information