On November 20, Mary Gallagher, an alum of the first DLE Retreat in 2008, added a new honorific to her name—doctor.

Earning her Ph.D. was a dream come true—a dream that was six years in the making. Over Thanksgiving weekend, Mary made the final revisions recommended by her committee and submitted her 300+ page dissertation for publication.

She officially graduates this December with a Doctor of Philosophy in Language, Literacy and Culture from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. After all this time in school, “it’s hard to believe that I’m on the other side,” she marvels.

Mary, who lives in Rockville, MD, pursued her doctoral degree while working full-time as the assistant director of the Center for Academic Success at the Universities at Shady Grove. Her professional work became the inspiration for her dissertation research, which focused on women of color pursuing a computing degree through vertical transfer (or transfer from a two-year community college to a four-year university).

Since 2007, when Mary was first introduced to DLE Founder Linda Dulye through the inaugural Winston Fisher Seminar at Syracuse University (her undergraduate alma mater and Linda’s, too), she has counted Linda and the DLE community as a font of inspiration and mentorship. During the inaugural 2008 DLE Retreat, Mary made connections and learned skills that she has continued to both rely and reflect on throughout her career.

Mary reflects, “Most important among those lessons was time management, prioritizing and goal setting.” Even with the uncertainty and changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, she was determined to wrap up her studies in 2020, even pushing her timeline forward to make it happen. It often meant writing late into the night after a full day of work, but the hard work paid off. And the pandemic delivered a plus as Mary defended her dissertation virtually and was able to include a much larger community in her defense!

Now, with her dissertation complete, DOCTOR Mary looks forward to taking her next steps professionally.