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Living The Dream | Is This for Me?

“I’ll Get Involved in Your Life”

Dr. Sammie Robinson , PhD University of Kansas, management

Sammie Robinson was a child of the 1950s. “I come from a background,” she explains, “where the most optimistic dream was that I would attend a small Black  college and maybe become a teacher.”

But business appealed to the young woman, and although she did attend college, “it was a vocational

experience.” After graduating she worked as an accountant for several years in other states until, by now divorced and raising a small child alone, “I went home to Texas, where my intent was to go to the local phone company and get a position I could stay in until I retired.

“I worked there for twelve years. I made nice money, but I was a captive. I didn’t like the job. So I decided that an MBA might make it easier to find a job I enjoyed more, with better pay.

“During my second trimester at Southern Methodist University, I took a course in Organizational Behavior and my eyes just opened. I started paying attention to what the professors were doing, and their lifestyle. I said, ‘I want to do this.’

“I went to all my professors and asked them about their lives. I cold-called the few African-American professors I managed to learn existed.

“I gave up my house and my car, and I entered a whole new world after age forty. I had always been so vocationally- and practically-oriented. There were so many things I didn’t know. Publishing, research methodology—I didn’t understand anything about a research career. This whole idea of living a life of the mind—it’s a concept that I am still coming to terms with.” Dr. Robinson believes her “mission”  is to serve as a role model and mentor for minority students in predominantly white universities. “People who are somehow marginalized or disenfranchised gravitate to me. I will get involved in your life.”

Her involvement has often been extraordinary.  “There have been students whom people said were worthless, but if I see something in them, I’m willing to give them a second chance.”

“One young woman was about to flunk out, but I said, ‘I will give you a chance to take the class over without having to fail it first. Your end of the bargain is that you must meet with me once a week.’ She earned a 4.0 that semester and she graduated.”

As a doctoral student, Dr. Robinson won top honors for dissertation research and a best teaching assistant award. “I save every e-mail I get from a student thanking me. They see the value of what I’ve given them a year to two years out. When a student tells me I made a difference, that’s it for me!”

In 2003, Dr. Robinson attended an academic conference at which she again encountered Dr. Lynn Isabella, the professor who had first inspired her as a student at SMU. “It was a real pleasure to thank her in person for writing letters of recommendation, and most importantly, to report that I finished my doctoral program,” says Dr. Robinson.

The dream continues…

Emeritus Professor at Houston Baptist  University,  took seriously her multiple  roles  as researcher,  teacher,  mentor, and role model. She developed a prolific research stream on African-American woman entrepreneurs with PhD Project professors Dr. Laquita Blockson  and  Dr.  Jeffrey  Robinson, and developed an entrepreneurship studies program at her previous university, Prairie  View  (TX)  A&T  University. Having turned fifty the year  she  earned  her doctorate,  she says,  “I  am  rejuvenated.  I  am   where   I   am supposed  to be.” When her profile was  posted  on  The  PhD Project web site, it inspired one reader to contact her, initiate a mentoring relationship, and apply for and  enter  a  doctoral program, where she is currently studying.

Dr.   Headshot

Dr. Sammie Robinson

Houston Baptist University

PhD University of Kansas, management