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The Gifford Youth Achievement Center (GYAC) is pleased to announce that fellow past board member and student support specialist, Denise Smith, recently earned her Doctorate in Education. GYAC is extremely proud of her accomplishment and celebrates her hard work, dedication, and perseverance.

Read about Denise’s degree journey below:

“My Doctorate in Education is in Organizational Leadership from the Adrian Dominican School of Education, Leadership, and Human Development at Barry University. Barry University requires EdD candidates in organizational learning and leadership to complete a dissertation in practice (DiP). My dissertation is influenced by the Carnegie project on the education doctorate framework.

The DiP is a non-traditional dissertation using practical and professional skill blends of theoretical approaches to real-world issues related to a problem within an organization. This type of framework guides the DiP project and allows the support of a scholarly practitioner to take the lead in research to analyze and assess an issue or problem of practice (PoP) in an organization to close a gap.

The process of the DiP further allowed me as the scholarly practitioner in a dual capacity to design and develop a plan of action, and implement research-driven interventions or methods to solve the identified problem or issue. As such, the primary focus of this DiP was to close an existing human performance gap within an after-school’s precollegiate high school program.

I am very happy to say that my Dissertation in Practice, “Steppingstone to Success: Evaluation of a Precollegiate After-school Program,” has been published to the ProQuest platform for Dissertations.

I began this journey in January 2017. My degree conferral date was August of 2023. There were lots of challenges, however, they were all teachable moments. Thanks be to God almighty that I am here. I had wonderful support from family, friends, and associates.”

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