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Former Law School Student Alicia D’Oyley Found “All roads led me back to higher education”

Alicia D’Oyley MS ‘07, EdD ’20 head shotThe year was 2018 and Alicia D’Oyley MS ‘07, EdD ’20 was in Ireland with the cohort and professors of her doctoral program in higher education/higher education administration. They travelled there to study the nation’s higher education system, visiting Trinity College, American University of Dublin and University College of Dublin.

“We met with faculty and staff at these institutions to exchange ideas and our culture,” she recalls. “Our cohort developed a wonderful bond during that two-week experience. It was on that trip that we first discussed our long-term aspirations with each other and shared our personal experiences. Sitting in a pub at the end of each evening with our professors discussing education, our future, our roles and responsibilities as practitioners and the impact we would have on higher education was priceless. I will forever cherish those memories and conversations.”

As she receives her doctoral degree in May along with the 2020 Student Excellence Award, Alisa is now associate dean of enrollment at Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) in Boston’s Charlestown neighborhood but her route there was a circuitous one. The Dorchester native quit law school after a year, then worked as a paralegal where she collaborated with a partner who did mediation for state universities. Driving to college campuses and attending these sessions provided her introduction to higher education.

In 2004, Alicia joined Regis as life and learning coordinator. She became a Title III grant coordinator, part of the team that built the Student Success Center, and enrolled in the graduate program for an MS in Organizational and Professional Communication. She moved on to Middlesex Community College in Bedford as coordinator of advising, accepted a fellowship at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and returned to Massachusetts as director of the Academic Achievement Center at Bridgewater State University before landing in her present role at BHCC in 2019. Here, she provides leadership for enrollment departments, “working with relevant stakeholders to ensure that students receive equity-minded services that are grounded in a cultural wealth framework.”

Alicia had been working in higher education, contemplating a doctoral degree for five years before opting to her alma mater for her EdD. “What drew me back to Regis was that it was made for real practitioners,” she explains. “The classes were held on the weekends, the retention rate of the program was high [and] I had heard from other students that there was a great level of support provided to students as they completed their dissertations.”

An important part of that support came from her major advisor, Dr. Lauren Bent, who describes Alicia as “a transformational leader who is strategic, collaborative, student-centered, and dedicated to her own learning and development.” Dr. Bent recalled her participation in that transformational trip to Ireland, and noted how she “engaged in a rigorous multiple case study for her Dissertation in Practice that explored change management in the redesign of advising systems at community colleges. Much like her dissertation work, she consistently advocates for students and focuses on continuous improvement in higher education.”