Discovering Myself: Journey to My DBA

Hello, I am Dr. Stacia E. Kelly. I am grateful to be announcing myself – introducing myself as someone I now know.

By: Dr. Stacia E. Kelly & Jake Hreha

Hello, I am Dr. Stacia E. Kelly. I am grateful to be announcing myself – introducing myself as someone I now know. It took many years to figure out who I was prior to 2019...to discover what God wanted me to do and gain clarity on my purpose. It took a lot of soul searching but mostly it took great amounts of depending on God. In turn, I learned that with additional faith comes countless triumph.

Overcoming Adversity and Negative Emotions

Prior to enrolling at Indiana Wesleyan University, I felt like I was just living life. I had a pretty good childhood, but it also came with significant trauma. I’ve had to overcome these disturbances while being a part of a marginalized community. In many ways my childhood distress translated into adult trauma responses. I didn’t know who I was at that time. I knew aspects about myself – but I didn’t know how they aligned with the grand scheme of my life. I knew God made me into a person who perseveres. God also blessed me with the talent of administration. The more I proceeded and used required faith, the more blessings poured in. I’ve made great strides professionally in management for over 15 years. Somehow, I still felt empty as though I was not fulfilling the purpose God had for me. In 2019, I knew where God was leading me, but again I didn’t know myself.

A Support System That Helped Me Overcome Adversity

I graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in August 2022 with the first Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) cohort. It came with large challenges to face. The doctoral journey isn’t meant to be easy. Not only did I have difficult coursework, but I was also raising four children as a divorced single parent. Plus, I was caring for my mother who was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. To add insult to injury, our nation was facing a pandemic. I also uprooted my life by moving south. I was conquering personal circumstances while gaining a great deal of knowledge through devotion, the practical experience of the faculty, and the bond developed with my classmates as well as my team members.

Dealing with Mental Adversity

My first obstacle was awareness of my deficiencies personally and professionally. I identified that I was not as team-oriented as I thought I was at the start of the program. We all are used to working in teams; however, Problem-Based Learning – which is built into the DBA program – forces you to engage with teams more closely than usual. I also identified that my skillsets were an accumulation of intangible belongings. I didn’t know the people I needed to assist. Who was God calling me to serve in my community? Lastly, I became very aware of my distance from God. The mere mindfulness of malfunctions within oneself is the start of unpacking and unlearning.

Finding Community and a Positive Mindset

As a result of the DBA program, the two teams I engaged with daily in the program are now my "family." I can work with people that I can grow to love and need. I am of the philosophy that God designed us to need our neighbors. Through learning how to work within a team, I also know my strengths. My strong skillsets are used to benefit the populations I serve in my leadership role. I’ve also switched to a completely different industry. I started in compliance within distribution centers. Then, I moved into a grant-funded government entity whose initiative is to decrease poverty and issues associated with social determinants of health. IWU initiated and instilled the discipline of carrying out devotion. Having devotional reflection and prayer over my work has led me closer to God. The work I do daily moves me even closer to God.

A Growth Mindset through Tough Times

Getting a doctorate was challenging while caring for my family. But you know what? I persevered for three years. I showed up every day being faithful to God and to the instruction embedded in my heart. On the stage at the DBA hooding ceremony, my name was called. I stopped and cried in front of everyone. One of those ugly cries! Embarrassing, right? No, it was a moment of release. A moment for me to pour out the joy I felt for God seeing me through. As my Grandmother Lillie would remind me, “…joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).

I persevered! Now, I know me! I know that my life’s work as Dr. Stacia E. Kelly is assisting marginalized, underrepresented, and vulnerable populations in gaining better access and quality care.

If you are overcoming adversity in your life there is hope and a way forward. Whether you are facing emotional adversity, mental health struggles, physical adversity, trauma from past experiences, financial adversity, or any other challenges there is hope in God. He has a purpose for your own life. When you face adversity you can spend time in self reflection and grow in community. These practices help you to continue to build a successful life while dealing with adversity and building self confidence.

Dr. Stacia E. Kelly

IWU Alumna (DBA Program)

Dr. Stacia E. Kelly graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in August 2022 with the first Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) cohort. Through her role in a grant-funded government entity that works to decrease poverty and issues associated with social determinants of health, Dr. Kelly assists marginalized, underrepresented, and vulnerable populations in gaining better access and quality care.

Jake Hreha

SEO Copywriter, IWU

Jake Hreha is a graduate of Ball State University, where he majored in advertising with a concentration in media presentation and design. He is passionate about design, and in his free time he enjoys cycling, traveling, and reading.

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