Following Her Heart

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

dissertation simultaneously. As a part-time adjunct professor, who receives a 50% tuition discount, Alexander can expect to earn up to $122,000 once she receives her doctorate next year and becomes a full-time professor by 2012. Alexander estimates that between her M.S. and Ed.D. programs she has accrued $55,000 in debt. However, an Ed.D. will pay off, as she can expect a $62,000 increase in salary.

In the meantime, Alexander has made some sacrifices, for example, taking a $50,000 salary decrease, moving with her children back in with her parents, and cutting out a lot of the luxuries that a high salary could afford her. She says her parents continue to play a huge supportive role that allows her to pursue her academic degrees at a feverish pace. “When I was living on my own I was shopping, traveling, dining out with friends and doing all the things that I thought were important but that now no longer seem to matter,” says Alexander.

Her research falls in line with a need to help young women of color. “It centers on developing and increasing the pipeline for more African American women to obtain positions of leadership in higher education and business. Just recently I was appointed the graduate fellow in my program. This scholarship provides additional earnings for me. To that end, as an adjunct professor, my potential earnings are endless.”

After Alexander completes her Ed.D., she will pursue a Ph.D. in business to maximize her income potential. In aspiring to become the next Ruth J. Simmons, Ph.D. (president of Brown University), or Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D. (president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), she understands the many sacrifices she will need to make. However, she wants to emphasize that African Americans should change their thinking when it comes to developing their monetary value and building their social network. Being a student, blogger, public speaker, and columnist have all increased her professional network and earnings potential.

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