Information For:

Give back to HGSE and support the next generation of passionate educators and innovative leaders.

News & Events

Doctoral Candidate's Many Supporters Cheer Her On

If one thing is certain, doctoral candidate Traci Teasley definitely has quite a few people rooting her on.

Under cream-colored tents in Radcliffe Yard today, the cloudy and wet weather did little to dampen the nearly 40 supporters who showed up--some in a chartered bus all the way from Michigan--to celebrate and cheer Teasley on as she earns her doctorate from the Urban Superintendents Program tomorrow.

At the precommencement kick-off champagne brunch, Teasley, who grew up in Pontiac, Michigan, eagerly awaited an additional 10 to 20 supporters' arrivals for what she considers the "usual" celebration of educational achievement that she has enjoyed throughout her life.

"Education is really important in my family and we believe in it and celebrate that," Teasley says. "It is not unusual to have a busload. It is great because education is so important and it's nice to have a family that values that. I didn't do it without that support."

While it isn't uncommon for family to turn out for life moments like graduations, Teasley's supporters have come from Michigan, North Carolina, Georgia, and New Jersey and include those who've become extended family to her, like her elementary school principal, college roommate, pastors, and even the coordinator of her internship from high school. None would dare to "miss" Teasley's graduation from Harvard.

"[For me] it has always been, 'When is Traci graduating? Put that on the calendar,'" says Worcester Public Schools Superintendent Jim Caradonio, Ed.D.'91, where Traci interned under USP. "I wouldn't think of being anywhere but here or I'd feel I'm missing something."

As a reading teacher in Wake County, North Carolina, Teasley had grown disenchanted with the school system and had a nagging feeling that she was somehow perpetuating issues in low-income communities. She briefly considered leaving education entirely behind, but realized that perhaps there was something she could do to make a difference. She applied to Harvard Graduate School of Education with a different career goal in mind, but after a discussion with an admissions person began to consider becoming a superintendent.  Teasley has been working on her doctorate for seven years, during which time she has celebrated many small successes and milestones that have kept her momentum going. At this point, she says, she has dedicated nearly "75 percent of [her] life to education."

For Geraldine Sanders, Teasley's elementary school principal, it is remarkable to witness Teasley's graduation from HGSE having watched her every educational step. "Traci started with me," Sanders recalls. "I always remember her being dedicated to learning. She always had a pen and paper in hand, jotting information down."

After all, Teasley is the first person in her family to earn a doctorate degree--something that she and her mother Blanche hope continues in the family. "The goal is that this will rub off," Blanche says of her daughter's hard-earned success.

Amid the hustle and bustle of Teasley's support group were almost a dozen nieces and nephews. One nephew inquired about her diploma, while a niece sat eagerly answering the cell phone and giving directions to the arriving Teasley entourage. Teasley said it is her hope that she can be an example to her nieces and nephews that "despite your zip code, you can do anything."