Debrah Berger

Debrah Berger, DLS Graduate 2021

Global Recovery Options for Alcohol Addiction: Including Analysis of The Impact and Success of Alcoholics Anonymous and The Importance and the Import to Recovery of a Significant Spiritual Experience

Debrah joined the DLS program in August of 2016 and was thrilled to become a member of Cohort 2 she described as "the best cohort ever." Having over twenty years of sobriety when she began the program, aspects of addiction and addiction recovery were her focus throughout her studies. At first, she thought she would combine her creative writing master’s degree with some facet of addiction recovery. Through a series of circumstances, she altered her DLS focus to a global investigation of recovery options, including programs, medications, and scientific and psychedelic clinical trials and studies. She had always known that Alcoholics Anonymous may not be the right fit for everyone, but she was surprised to find that recovery has blossomed into a plethora of possibilities.

Debrah is an Illinois native who had a very circuitous route to her doctorate: from a B.S. degree in Accounting from the University of Colorado in Boulder, to studying journalism, to learning graphic design, to her creative writing heavy MLS degree from SMU. After abandoning her accounting career (definitely the wrong choice for her), Debrah enjoyed a profession as a graphic designer for over 25 years, from which she is now semi-retired, though it is not in her nature to ever be fully retired from anything.

Donna Gosbee

Donna Gosbee, DLS Graduate 2021

Dissertation Title: Inked into Memory: Perception of the Iconic Auschwitz Tattoo Among Holocaust Survivors and the Public

Dr. Donna Gosbee fully expected to end her educational pursuits at an associate’s degree level from a Wyoming community college. But the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation saw her potential and bestowed upon her scholarships which allowed her to complete her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Political Science at Texas A&M University – Commerce.  While working on her master’s degree Dr. Gosbee was introduced to the field of Holocaust and genocide studies, and it became the focus of her future studies. Dr. Gosbee went on to earn her Certificate in Holocaust Studies. While completing her master’s degree, Dr. Gosbee also co-edited the book Women and Genocide: Gendered Experiences of Violence, Survival, and Resistance, which was published in 2016 by Canadian Scholar’s Press.

After completion of her master’s degree, Dr. Gosbee became an adjunct instructor for the department of Political Science at Texas A&M University-Commerce, teaching undergraduate Holocaust studies coursework.

Dr. Gosbee enrolled in the DLS program at SMU in late 2016 joining Cohort 2. The interdisciplinary format of the liberal studies program allowed her to expand her research and her interests. She entered the program with a curiosity about the survivors of the Auschwitz death/labor/concentration camp. Only a small number of prisoners were selected for labor in the large camp the Nazis established during World War II. Those not selected for labor were killed upon arrival in “selections.” The prisoners deemed strong enough and young enough to labor were assigned a prisoner number which was then tattooed on their left arm. Out of the millions of Jews and other persecuted populations who were sent to Auschwitz, only around 60,000 survived to tell their stories. But enough prisoners of Auschwitz survived that the general population began to recognize the tattooed numbers on the arm of the survivor. Over the decades since liberation of the Nazi concentration camps in 1945, the Auschwitz tattoo has become an iconic image relating to the Holocaust. Dr. Gosbee’s dissertation, “Inked into Memory: Perception of the Iconic Auschwitz Tattoo Among Holocaust Survivors and the Public” delves into not only how the survivor viewed those indelible numbers on their arm, but also how the perception of those tattooed numbers by the general public has evolved over the decades.

Dr. Bettye Heath

Bettye Heath, DLS Graduate 2021

Dissertation Title: Scientific Racism: Its Role in the Development of the Jim Crow South and Its Continuing Influence in American Society

Dr. Heath began her college journey at Southwest Texas State University on a gymnastics scholarship in 1980. She quickly realized that she was not prepared for such an experience and left the university. In 2010, after her fourth son began high school, she went back to complete her undergraduate work at the University of Texas in Arlington. In 2012, a new found love for education inspired her to apply for the Master of Liberal Studies program at SMU with a concentration in Human Rights and Social Justice. She completed the program with a thesis on Holocaust Education in America. In 2016, she began the Doctoral of Liberal Studies program as a part of Cohort 2.

Dr. Heath grew up in Houston, Texas during a time of great racial tension. As a child, she clearly remembers the unease she felt at the mixed-messaging she observed and did not understand the intolerance of others that she witnessed. Those feelings followed her throughout her life. The DLS program gave her an outlet to put her feelings into action.

Dr. Heath wrote her dissertation on the role of scientific racism in the Jim Crow South and its continuing influence on American society. She is a Docent Educator at the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum where she has the privilege to teach the history of the Holocaust and the importance of human rights both past and present. She believes it is vitally important to not only understand the history of prejudice but also the justifications of the perpetrators for such injustices. It is her goal to spread the message that there is no such thing as a lesser person to all those willing to listen.

Dr. Diane Miles

Diane R. Miles, DLS Graduate 2021

Dissertation Title: Three Prongs of Knowledge for Black/African American Parents in Preparation to Assist Young Black/African American Children Navigate through Systemic Racism

Diane Renefenet Miles began the Doctor of Liberal Studies program in August of 2016. The interest in studying and delving into something new and challenging attracted her to DLS. As a seasoned educator, Dr. Miles has experienced many opportunities that have increased her knowledge and provided career paths to give back to others. Having taught students, teachers, administrators how to improve themselves and pass their learning to others, after 30 years of service, she retired from an extraordinary career.

The status of race relations in America compelled Dr. Miles to address systemic racism by advocating for three prongs of knowledge to be included in parent education programs. First, with the doctorate, she will continue working with parents, specifically Black/African American parents. As a result, parents will gain further understanding and be empowered to help their young children in combating inequalities that they will face in this country and the world.

Dr. Miles answered the call to act and to ensure action by others in their spheres of influence to help eradicate systemic racism by every essential means. It is a commitment she challenges all to make if we are to be world changers to better the human condition. The knowledge gained through the DLS program reinforced her push on this issue. Actions against systemic racism are what it means to be human.

Dr. Patti Addington

Patti Addington, DLS Graduate 2020

Dissertation Title: External Assets Influencing College and Career Decisions of Underrepresented High School Students: Discovering the Options

Patti Addington has been in the profession of Higher education fundraising for over twenty years. She began her career at Syracuse University where she was responsible for cultivating some of the university’s most distinguished supporters. A transition from SU to Southern Methodist University resulted as a transfer to Dallas, Texas where she served as a development officer for the first school of education on SMU’s campus for eleven years. In her current position, she launched a $30 million campaign for a mission-based corporate organization that invests in low-income communities in Dallas. Working on behalf of underrepresented youth who need resources and access to equality is my passion. The Doctoral of Liberal Studies program reinforced her desire to make a difference in the lives of individuals who need assistance the most. This next chapter in her life will be dedicated to raising funding and awareness for underrepresented youth either through corporate Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives or possibly as a director for a TRIO or Upward Bound program. As she moves forward, it is her hope that her efforts will be useful, and that she can bring knowledge, perspective, and expertise to those who share positive relationships with all youth, but especially to underrepresented students as they pursue productive and satisfying human experiences.

Dr. Nancy Bierman

Nancy Bierman, DLS Graduate 2020

Dissertation Title: Place or Displacement? Local Visions and Global Identities in Selected Works by Willa Cather and Eudora Welty

Though often regarded as significant authors with a keen "sense of place," neither Willa Cather nor Eudora Welty need to be considered as regional writers. Instead, much of their best work results from a cosmopolitan point of view. Even though these authors spent their formative years anchored to one place –Cather in Nebraska and Welty in Mississippi– a fresh perspective on their writing, engaged with current models of globalism and diaspora, show's how detachment and dislocation shaped their work.

A native of Jackson, Mississippi, Nancy Bierman graduated from Mississippi State University with a B.A. degree and received a master’s degree in Liberal Studies from SMU. She has been involved in a variety of community activities, including now serving on the Board of Governors of the Dallas Symphony Association, the Board of Trustees of Methodist Health System Foundation, the Board of Directors of The Family Place, and on the Executive Board of the Simmons School of Education & Human Development. As President of the Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Garden, Nancy founded a literary symposium, "A Writer’s Garden Literary Luncheon." As a proponent of lifelong learning, she is a Certified Master Gardener, a Lifetime Accredited Flower Show Judge, and enjoys planning programs a Vice President of the Mary K. Craig Class. Nancy hopes to use her thesis project as a springboard to help literacy studies programs, including one in which she has tutored reading, the Simmons School own Budd Center’s Readers to Leaders organization and other non-profits within the Center. It is a rewarding avenue for her to be an advocate of the Executive Board of Simmons.

Dr. Lori Brakhage

Lori Brakhage, DLS Graduate 2020

Dissertation Title: Generational Linguistic Attitudes: A Sociolinguistic Investigation

Dr. Lori Brakhage (née Marroquin) holds a Doctor of Liberal Studies with foci in linguistic anthropology and organizational behaviors, and a master’s degree in organizational dynamics and communications/media/technology (CMT) from Southern Methodist University. Following more than twenty years of corporate organizational and executive experience, Dr. Brakhage founded Apex Collective Strategies, LLC in 2013 to provide advisory services focused on communication strategies, eventually expanding guidance via linguistic expertise to encompass executive strategy sessions, organizational processes and transitions, team alignment systems, and leadership consultations.

As a scholar-practitioner, Dr. Brakhage combines academia with an executive-level aptitude and commonsense methodology, examining contemporary applications of organizational and integrated communications, and its impacts in the workplace through the intersection of cultural, gender and generational lenses. Her areas of expertise and passion are deeply interconnected in that she provides an ethnographic approach to address operational pain points by identifying connections between linguistic patterns and human behavior.

Dr. Brakhage has earned designations as an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Mediator from the American Arbitration Association, as a Targeted Selection & Interaction Management Facilitator from Development Dimensions International, and as a Certified Compliance & Ethics Professional (CCEP) from the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics.

Dr. Lonnie Gentry

Lonnie Gentry, DLS Graduate 2020

Dissertation Title: Has the Euthanasia Controversy Been Resolved? A Critique of Three Contemporary Virtue Ethics Defenses of Euthanasia

After 30 years in full-time ministry, Lonnie went to work for a local hospital. In that position he had the opportunity to enter the DLS program to study medical ethics. Lonnie was part of a company-wide layoff at the end of May due to Covid. The severance he received allowed him to work on his dissertation full-time, which allowed him to complete it, successfully defend it, and graduate in December of 2020! In November Lonnie was also rehired by the hospital into a position that will allow him to use DLS work in ethics. Needless to say, he is excited by the door that the DLS opened for him.

Dr. Lauren Gilmore

Lauren Gilmore, DLS Graduate 2020

Dissertation Title: The At-Risk Practitioner: Vicarious Trauma in Mental Health Providers

As a recovering social service agency employee, Lauren knew she needed a break from the emotionally-demanding nonprofit world but still wanted to be involved in some capacity. The DLS program allowed her to study issues facing nonprofit employees and contribute to the research with the goal of helping those still in the field. For her dissertation, she conducted a research study on Vicarious Trauma in current and former mental health providers. The current providers were surveyed on the issue of Vicarious Trauma in their personal and professional lives. Former providers were interviewed for this study who had identified that they left the mental health field due to Vicarious Trauma. It is her hope that completing this degree will allow her to serve as a consultant for social service agencies to help them address the issue at a policy level.

Lauren earned a B.A. in Psychology and a B.J. in Journalism from the University of Missouri - Columbia and earned an M.S. from Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana. She has a graduate certificate in Nonprofit Executive Leadership from IUPUI in Indianapolis. In her free time she serves on the board of directors for a local animal rescue.

Dr. Robyn Short

Robyn Short, DLS Graduate 2020

Dissertation Title: Developing and Sustaining Organizational Systems That Honor the Dignity Needs of Stakeholders

Dr. Robyn Short is a peace-building trainer and mediator with expertise in restorative justice and transformative mediation models. She works with individuals, corporations, and nonprofit organizations in discovering the root causes of their conflicts, so they may transform their relationships and create new and productive paths forward individually and as teams. Dr. Short is the founder of the Peace & Conciliation Project, a restorative justice initiative designed to engage communities in addressing the roots of structural and institutional racism through actionable dialogue and constructive change. In addition to her mediation and consulting practice, Dr. Short is an adjunct professor at Southern Methodist University in the Master of Conflict Management and Dispute Resolution program and the Master of Leadership and Negotiation program at Bay Path University. Dr. Short has authored four books on peace building.

Dr. Gina Weber

Gina Weber, DLS Graduate 2020

Dissertation Title: Latinx Theater – Updating Cultural Diversity in the U.S. to Create New Models of Engagement

Gina Weber successfully passed with distinction her dissertation defense, and will be receiving her Doctor of Liberal Arts Program degree in May 2020, with an emphasis in Art Administration, at Southern Methodist University. The title of her dissertation is "Latinx Theater: Updating Cultural Diversity in the U.S. to Create New Models of Engagement." The research was conducted to determine ways Latinx theater is important to updating the U.S. cultural and political narrative. The purpose of the research was to demonstrate how Latinx theater can create a better understanding among cultures in the United States. The research provided Latinx theater leaders with information they can use to improve planning, engagement with audiences, and to implement programing that can make a positive change to the U.S. cultural narrative.

Dr. Weber will continue her work as a consultant working to improve the administration of art organizations. She serves on the Board of Cara Mia and Prism Movement Theaters, and volunteers for Teatro Dallas, Artstillery, RAICES, Human Rights Initiative of North Texas, and is a Docent at the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum. She took an early retirement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency where she managed all aspects of the environmental program, conducted diplomacy, develop and implemented policy, and oversaw the effective allocation of a multi-million-dollar budget utilized to address environmental and public health issues along the U.S. -Mexico border.

Dr. Khalil Abdur-Rashid

Khalil Abdur-Rashid, DLS Graduate 2019

Dissertation Title: The Impact of the Black American Sunni Muslim Community on the American Muslim Community as a Whole since Malcolm X, 1964-2016

Dr. Abdur-Rashid now serves as the full-time Muslim Chaplain at Harvard University, Instructor on Muslim Studies at Harvard Divinity School, and Public Policy Lecturer at Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He manages religious life for Muslim students at Harvard at the University level and serves as an administrative resource for other university administrators regarding issues relating to enhancing the quality of student life related to issues of religious, spiritual, and ethical life on campus. He leads group trips for students to Mecca and Medina annually as well as designing and implementing major programs on campus for students looking to learn how to get through life and what it means to be human.

He was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia and he completed his Doctorate in Liberal Studies in American Islam from Southern Methodist University and holds both a Master of Arts in Islamic law and Middle East Studies as well as a Master of Philosophy in Islamic Law and Middle East Studies from Columbia University in New York City. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Georgia State University and worked for the state of Georgia as a social worker for several years. He then pursued Islamic studies academically and traditionally which led him overseas to study for numerous years in the Middle East and in Istanbul, Turkey. While in Istanbul, Khalil pursued a master’s degree in Comparative Islamic Law at Marmara University and completed two advanced Islamic seminary doctoral licenses (ijaza) in Islamic Sciences.

He has taught numerous courses on Islam and Islamic law at NYU and Columbia University and taught Arabic language at Georgia State University. He was the first paid Muslim Chaplain for Columbia University and Barnard College in New York City and served as an advisor to the NYPD Police Commissioner. He also served as Imam for several years in New York City and several years as Scholar-in-Residence at a major Islamic Center in North Dallas. He is the co-founder, along with his wife, of the Islamic Seminary of America in Dallas and has worked as instructor of Islamic Studies in the Graduate of Liberal Studies Program at Southern Methodists University. He serves the entire Muslim community at Harvard University though his mentoring, programs, lectures, interfaith work, and the courses he offers in the Divinity School and Kennedy School of Government.

Dr. Emozogie (Ige) Guobadia

Emozogie (Ige) Guobadia, DLS graduate 2019

Dissertation Title: Humanism in Business: Beyond Corporate Social Responsibility to Creating Shared Value – Exploring Reciprocity in the CSV Model

Dr. Guobadia has a passion for a human-centered organizational approach. Contrary to the popular phrase “it’s not personal, it’s business” She is convinced that business is intrinsically personal.

Dr. Guobadia is a Business Development specialist with over twenty five years of experience in corporate America. Her work involves leading teams of writers and subject matter experts in creating compelling and compliant proposals in response to business solicitations. She has worked in multiple and diverse organizations, focusing on effective communication, corporate social responsibility, and cross-cultural interaction.

She has a Master of Arts in Dispute Resolution (SMU, 2015), and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature (University of Lagos, 1987).

Her certifications include a Certificate in Executive Leadership (Cornell University, Ongoing), Accredited Practitioner, Association of Proposal Management Professionals (CP, APMP), and Executive Coach (SMU, 2014).

Currently, Dr. Guobadia works as a Senior Proposal Manager at DynCorp International. She guides teams in developing written and verbal content to win U.S. Government/Department of Defense work. Her humanistic business perspective aligns with the organization’s social commitment to do what is right and to value diversity of thoughts, experiences, and opinions.

Dr. John P. Irish

John P. Irish, DLS Graduate 2019

Dissertation Title: “Of Nobler Song Than Mine”: Social Justice In The Life, Times, And Writings Of Fitz-james O’Brien

Dr. Irish teaches AP U.S. History, American Studies, and Humanities classes at Carroll Sr. High School in Southlake, Texas. In addition to his full-time job as an educator, he works as a consultant for the College Board and spends his summers working with new and experienced AP U.S. History teachers all over the country. He served eight years on the Test Development Committee for the AP U.S. History Exam, including two years as the co-chair.

Dr. Irish has published three books, by W.W. Norton, in a series on the historical thinking skills. While doing my doctoral research on Fitz-James O’Brien, he began collecting and editing his collected writings and in doing so, created his own independent publishing company – A Bit O’Irish Press. So far, thee volumes of his collected writings have been published; with a special edition on his Gothic short stories; a fourth volume is almost ready for press. This publication constitutes, for the first time, a complete edition of his writings, including all his writings: poetry, music, plays, essays, and of course, his fiction.

He earned a B.A. in political science and philosophy, an M.A. in philosophy, an M.L.S. in humanities, and a D.L.S. from SMU.

Following graduation, he has been working on getting his graduate research published. One paper, “John Locke’s Social Contract Theory and Why Tessie Must Die,” has been accepted for publication in Philosophy Now: A Magazine of Ideas (Feb/Mar 2020), and two other papers are in the review stage of publication. “Confrontation with the Other as an Existential Crisis in Bierce’s ‘Moxon’s Master,’ ‘One of Twins,’ and ‘The Man and the Snake’” is in review with Midwest Gothic and “‘Uttering the Cries of Freedom’ — Fitz-James O’Brien on Two Crises in Nineteenth-Century Ireland” is in review with Irish Historical Studies.