As an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, Kimberly Dillon Grantham admits she “had no clue what a Ph.D. was—or what I could do with it.”
What she did know was that attending her favorite professor’s class ignited an unexpected spark for her. “I liked his job, and I wanted to know what I had to do to get a job like his,” she recalls. “I didn’t even know anything about the research part; I just saw the teaching part, and I wanted to put myself in his shoes.”
It didn’t take long to fill in the parts she didn’t know, and after attending the first PhD Project conference in 1994, Dr. Grantham enrolled in Duke’s doctoral program. By the time she was completing her dissertation to earn her doctorate from Duke, Dr. Grantham was already teaching at a college in Georgia. “My husband was extremely supportive and encouraging during this very challenging time,” she says. “I believe that this support, the support of my dissertation committee, along with a strong faith in God’s divine plan, is very important.”
Starting her professorial career at Clark Atlanta University, she saw many students sitting before her who were, as she once was, unaware that becoming a professor is a viable career option. “The most rewarding part of what I did at Clark Atlanta was letting other African-American and minority students realize that attaining a Ph.D. is something they can do. They would see me, they would think; ‘If she can do it, I can do it.’”
Dr. Grantham continues to build her career now at the University of Georgia. Her greatest accomplishment, she believes, is “getting married happily during my studies in a dual career marriage, having a child, growing spiritually, achieving a balance in my life, and then showing my students that it can be done. It takes sacrifice, but it can be done—and it is all worth the effort.
“Now I am blessed to live and work in the same city, Athens, Georgia. This is the first time ever that I have not had to commute at least one and a half hours to get to work. We can better manage the responsibilities of raising our son, and our careers, without the long commute.”
The dream continues…
At the University of Georgia, Dr. Grantham teaches both large lecture undergraduate classes and smaller upper level discussion oriented courses. She values her role as mentor to students and reports, “It has been extremely rewarding to see students whom I mentor excel in corporations by applying what they’ve learned from UGA and by making innovative contributions.” Dr. Grantham and her husband share their professional home at UGA, and they balance dual careers in academia while raising two young sons and a daughter. Dr. Grantham continues to enjoy her career and was promoted to Senior Lecturer at UGA in 2010. “I love teaching and my Senior Lecturer position affords me the opportunity to excel in this professional area while I achieve balance with my marriage- parent-work roles,” she says.