Pursuing higher education was never a question for alumna Dr. Jerica Nickerson-Guidry, but a matter of determining which level of degree would support her professional goals. After encouragement from a mentor to earn her Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership from ACU Online, Nickerson-Guidry was able to advance her career opportunities while enriching the servant-minded mentality she brings to her own classroom each day. Learn how her journey as a Wildcat not only impacted the trajectory of her life, but the next generation of students at Lone Star College in her hometown of Houston, Texas.
Chasing Her Dreams
Born into a family of educators, Nickerson-Guidry was destined for the classroom. She began her career as a middle school teacher after earning her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Houston and her Master’s in Communication from Texas Southern University. In 2014, Jerica utilized her master’s degree to transition into higher education where she taught as an adjunct professor for Houston Community College and found her niche working with adult students.
While adjuncting, Jerica was encouraged by family members and co-workers to expand her expertise by earning a doctoral degree. “I met an instrumental mentor who was willing to take a leap of faith and coach me into the role I currently play in higher education,” Nickerson-Guidry recalled. Her dream was to become a department chair and, while her master’s degree met the necessities of the job description, she knew a doctorate would help her stand out among other candidates. With her mentor’s guidance, Jerica realized she needed to not only be the “required candidate,” but a “preferred candidate.”
It was important to Jerica that the university where she earned her doctorate would align with her vision, mission and morals. Not only did ACU check all of her boxes, it expanded the ways she considered the kingdom of God. Though she grew up as a preacher’s kid, Nickerson-Guidry never realized she could align biblical teaching to her vocational studies, but this parallel became the very thing that made the biggest impact on her time at ACU. “By looking at things through the lens of leadership, faith and compassion, we are able to emulate the ultimate servant-leader and our savior, Jesus,” she reflected.
In addition to the biblical foundations in which the university is rooted, ACU offered Jerica the flexibility of an online program, an attractive feature as a wife and busy professor. Her virtual assignments provided a work-life balance that allowed her to remain present in her personal life, while propelling her professional life forward. As Jerica embarked on her doctorate journey, she welcomed her first child into the world and, right around the time she successfully defended her dissertation, she had her second. “ACU has been there for a lot of important moments in my family’s life,” she said.
Finding Purpose in Her Profession
Throughout Nickerson-Guidry’s time in ACU’s Organizational Leadership program, her professors made a particularly huge impact on her virtual learning experience. Jerica was impressed that, instead of just checking off boxes for assignments, her professors engaged with her through videos, provided in-depth feedback on discussion posts, and connected her with her peers to expand her thought processes. “Our professors provided us with the resources and instruction we needed to succeed,” she explained. “I still refer to my textbooks to this day and have implemented a few of ACU’s practices into my own teaching methods.”
Jerica is now the department chair and professor of speech at Lone Star College’s Houston North location. One of her missions is to break down the stigma of community colleges and pour into “her home and the heart of the community.” In addition to teaching, Jerica helps develop the adjunct faculty and enjoys providing them with the tools they need to have fulfilling careers. “Jesus himself had and was a mentor,” Jerica remarked. “My ultimate goal is to support and serve others to construct change for students and amplify their voices, and our faculty’s voices.”
Jerica plans to move up the professional ladder one rung at a time, just as she has done in the past. Whether she continues to live out her dream as a department chair or becomes the president of a university one day, she is committed to making a difference in the lives of others through her leadership techniques and experiences. It’s her daily goal to use the role the Lord has provided her to serve others and be a vessel of light to those around her.
Want to learn how an online Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership degree can take your leadership skills to the next level? Watch Jerica’s story below, visit acu.edu/online or contact us at 855-219-7300.