13:22 PM

A Human Capital Love Story: Wisconsin Couple Earns Ph.D.s Together

By Dan Silvia

Human Capital Management isn’t exactly a synonym for marriage, but certainly some of the skills garnered from Bellevue University’s Ph.D. in Human Capital Management might be useful in managing toward marital bliss.

Of course, that is not why Undraye and Loretta Howard, residents of Waukesha, Wisconsin, enrolled in the program back in 2013, but a strong partnership surely played a role in seeing them through the program to earn their doctorates together in late 2018.

“It was great to have an empathetic ear, and spouse who understood what I was going through,” Loretta said. “We ran ideas by each other, and having another perspective helped avoid ‘tunnel vision.’  There was never a time when Undraye would not stop and listen to me, encourage me, push me, and console me during our journey.  He was my biggest advocate.”

Undraye wrote his dissertation on “Lived Experiences of African American Men in Leadership Roles: A Phenomenological Study" while Loretta tackled “Experiences of Faculty and Administrators at a Wisconsin Technical College during the Enactment of Act 10: A Retrospective Phenomenological Case Study.”

“It was very special to do the program together. I found great support and encouragement from my wife as we went through the courses and the dissertation work,” Undraye said.  “We had separate spaces in the house where we would retreat to do work on our own; and when we wanted to connect and check in with each other we created space for that as well.”

Dr. Stephen Linenberger, who served as dissertation chair for both Undraye and Loretta, respected the dedication the pair showed throughout the program.

“I was impressed with the determination and perseverance they both displayed,” Linenberger said. “I enjoyed working with Loretta and Undraye throughout their doctoral journeys.”

Academia has been part of the Howards’ story since the beginning. They met in September 1994 while in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. They were married on Jan. 1, 1996.

“It was a whirlwind courtship, but we both knew we were meant to be together,” Loretta said. “After we were married and decided we were ready to pursue our Ph.D.s we thought it would be wonderful to walk across the stage together as ‘Dr. Howard’ and ‘Dr. Howard.’”

One of the newly minted Dr. Howards, Undraye, is currently a Vice President at the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities in Milwaukee, while the other Dr. Howard, Loretta, is a Communication Skills Instructor at Waukesha County Technical College. Both found the Bellevue University Human Capital program applicable to their workplace.

“For example in PCAP 720 (Human Capital Development and Productivity), we had an assignment which required us to develop a business plan for learning,” Loretta said. “That assignment could be used in the "real" workplace environment.  Also, I enjoyed the discussion boards with peers which could be wonderful lively debates.”

With their doctorates secured, the two Dr. Howards will have a bit more time to focus on each other this Valentine’s Day.

“Since we do not have homework or dissertation revisions, we plan to have a nice quiet romantic dinner which we will prepare together,” Loretta said. “We enjoy cooking and just hanging out with each other.”