Following Her Heart

Tracie Alexander goes back to school to fulfill her dream and boost her income potential

Alexander with her children

Many people dream of making a living doing what they love. However, earning a self-sustaining salary is often an issue. Such was the case with Tracie E. Alexander, who wanted to transition from a successful career in television to higher education. With a little sacrifice and a lot of family support, Alexander, 42, is saving up to supplement what is initially a lower salary and maximizing her income potential by pursuing two doctoral degrees.

One would think that being the first African American woman to anchor the evening news in central Louisiana would be enough of an achievement to rest on. Alexander earned numerous accolades in her 15-year career, including a National Association of Black Journalists award for her work on BET’s Meet the Faith, and an NAACP award for her coverage of the death of actress and singer Aaliyah. Still, despite measurable success, a comfortable lifestyle, and a salary that reached $110,000, Alexander says that by 2001 she began to feel empty and unfulfilled. “My experiences throughout my journalism career were more than I could have dreamed of, but I knew I wanted to do something else. I wanted to share my experiences; I wanted to teach, especially since I was becoming a mentor to newcomers in my field.”

Alexander’s transition came at an awkward time, to say the least. Divorced, with one child, Skylnn, now 8, and eight months pregnant with her second child, Alexander Julian, now 4, she nevertheless felt driven to give back to her community and decided to go back to school. She enrolled in a graduate studies program in 2005 at The College of New Rochelle in New Rochelle, New York, to earn a master’s of science in organizational communication, which gave her the ability to become an adjunct professor at Monroe and Iona colleges.

“Obtaining my M.S. afforded me the opportunity to transition from the television studio to the classroom,” she says. Alexander earned her M.S. in 2007. At the time, her combined income from consulting projects and teaching was about $100,000. However, in order to earn more money and eventually become a full-time professor, she would need to earn a doctorate.

Alexander’s ultimate goal is to become president of a college or university. To reach that goal, she joined a fast-track Ed.D. program last May at St. John Fisher College at the College of New Rochelle, which requires her to do her course work and

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