Jackson State Husband, Wife Earn Doctorates PDF Print E-mail
By Whitney Everett -- Black College Wire   

Convenience or family tradition may have made some students choose historically black Jackson State University, but for Catherine and Tommy Estis, it was neither. The husband and wife are white and travel about 120 miles from Monroe, La., to make it to class. On May 9, they earned their doctorates at Lee E. Williams Athletics and Assembly Center.

Blue & White Flash
Catherine and Tommy Estis

"We chose Jackson State because they are receptive to people from other backgrounds," Tommy Estis said. "Their programs were highly recommended by some of our colleagues, and their programs were flexible."

Tommy Estis, 53, a licensed counselor in areas such as marriage and addictions, will earn his Ph.D. in social work, while Catherine Estis, 52, a counselor for the Talent Search program at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, will earn a doctorate in public policy (policy analysis). The Estises, high school sweethearts who have been married for 35 years, said juggling the demands of work and marriage while both pursuing their degrees was difficult but doable.

 "Traveling long miles and getting home late like around midnight, then having to turn around and get up the next morning for work, was extremely challenging," Catherine Estis said.

But, her husband said they did what they had to do. "Home didn't get much attention, but we complement each other and we can juggle." The couple also was able to get financial assistance for their studies. "I was literally holding my checkbook in my hand getting ready to pay for tuition in orientation, and the man told me that it was taken care of with Ayers money," he said, referring to Mississippi's higher education desegregation settlement. His wife applied and received a minority scholarship, and other funding also was available. Overall, the Estises said they have enjoyed their experience at JSU.

"The public policy program was really enjoyable and it is very prevalent. I was really involved in the different departmental organizations like the public policy and administration department where I was the vice president," Catherine Estis said.

Thomas Estis said he already has recommended the social work program to others. "The camaraderie with other students has been great, and I hold high regards for the professors."

Whitney Everett writes for the Blue & White Flash, the Jackson State University student newspaper, which originally published this article.


Posted May. 20, 2008
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