For some prospective doctoral students, being the parent of young children is grounds to defer taking the plunge for a few years. But for Dr. Velvet Weems-Landingham, having a toddler and an infant was a powerful motivator—and a welcomed source of stress relief.
“Having children pushed me to get through,” Dr. Weems-Landingham says. “I realized, ‘I have obligations now.'”
“Besides,” she adds, “they became my break from studies, and they gave me joy. You see your children doing something new, and you have to stop and laugh. I truly needed that.”
Dr. Weems-Landingham was fortunate to have a relative, whom she hired part time to be with her children, Sable (twenty months) and Carlton (two months). But even with help, she had to master the special balancing act skills of the doctoral student with family commitments.
“I learned how to work in the middle of the night—it is a peaceful time with no one around,” she recalls.
No stranger to hard work, Dr. Weems-Landingham had been earning a comfortable six-figure salary, with full perks and often-posh surroundings, as an IT consultant for prominent companies and law firms. Like many other future business professors, she discovered her calling when her corporate bosses assigned her to manage people and projects. “I also was always interested in organizations. I had an inquisitive nature regarding organizations, people, and what made them tick,” she notes. “I also had earned both substantial money and experience during my corporate journey, and I wanted to share those experiences and insights with future corporate leaders.”
Dr. Weems-Landingham earned her Masters degree from Carnegie Mellon University and was one of the few African- American doctoral students at Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management. She now serves as the only African-American female in the department of Management and Information Systems at Kent State University.
“I believe I offer a very different perspective as a Black professor,” she says, “and my presence alone signals progress. I am someone who students can talk to about working in industry—tying together theory and application. For Black students and others valuing diversity, they see an African- American professor, and there’s a sigh of relief.”
Dr. Weems-Landingham has drawn on her years in business, with her broad background as a consultant in various industries, to help many students determine a career direction.
The dream continues…
Dr. Weems-Landingham has presented and published widely on online teaching and learning, and on project management and performance enhancement in virtual teams. Her children, babies when she started her doctoral program, are on track to both be in school as she completes her tenure process. “We have all grown immensely in our knowledge and understanding of the importance and value of the education experience. I look forward to the future and cherish all that has brought me here,” she says. Dr. Weems-Landingham has engaged in no fewer than twenty-five separate service activities or committees. Her service includes faculty mentoring, peer review and evaluation, and more.