From sergeant to master’s degree, Shawna Hudson finds her place

Long before Shawna Hudson graduated with a doctorate USC Rossier School of Education, she was a little girl who lived near the University Park Campus but felt worlds away.

“Growing up as a kid in South Central, USC was there,” Hudson said. “This is the school you want to go to. It is the dream school, but it felt out of reach. ”

During his childhood, says Hudson, role models for higher education were difficult to obtain.

“My father died when I was 18 and I had no family that necessarily went to college, so I did not think that was an option,” she said.

And there was something else.

“I had a learning disability,” Hudson said. “I struggled with reading comprehension and writing.”

Believing in college was not possible, Hudson joined the US Air Force and embarked on a path that would eventually take her home to Los Angeles – and to the USC.

Shawna Hudson uses military experience to drive her educational ambition

In the Air Force, Hudson gained experience in the global supply chain and worked his way up to the rank of E-7 Master Sergeant.

“The military gave me the space to be myself and find my strength,” she said – the strength and newfound confidence to reconsider college.

In the Air Force, Shawna Hudson worked his way up to E-7 champion sergeant. (Photo / US Air Force)

“I took some lessons and had a teacher take me aside and say, ‘You’re not stupid. Stop being afraid, ”Hudson said. “It changed my life.”

Hudson enrolled at Park University in Missouri, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in social psychology and quickly discovered she wanted to continue learning. She soon enrolled at the nearby Webster University, where she received two master’s degrees: an MA in consulting and an MBA with an interest in staff development.

“I stopped focusing on my shortcomings and what I could not do, regarding my learning disability,” Hudson said. “I just stopped where my weaknesses were. For example, I found that my reading comprehension was strongest in the morning, so I would get up extra early and read. ”

Then, after eight years of active service in the Air Force, Hudson set her sights on a doctorate and a university closer to home – her childhood dream school. She felt that the USC Rossier program would improve her skills in her job at that time with Northrop Grumman.

“I applied and did not tell anyone because I was so nervous,” Hudson said. “I chose Rossier because I consider myself a teacher. My expertise is in organizational management, talent development and strategies for diversity, equality and exclusion. ”

She soon learned that she had been accepted.

“It was complete mistrust followed by fear,” she said. “First, I struggled with fraud syndromes, that I do not belong and that all these people are so much better than me.”

Fight prejudice and expose racism in society and in the workplace

Fortunately, Hudson said her feelings of insecurity quickly faded after meeting her USC Rossier cohort and her new Trojan family.

“It was a journey with these people, and there was self-discovery and connection,” she said.

She received her doctorate last summer and was soon hired by Capital Group, a Los Angeles-based investment firm.

We must reveal the shape of the core of our society that needs to be dug up.

Shawna Hudson

“I work with talent development, especially with a focus on diversity, justice and inclusion. I have currently been commissioned to train 8,000 employees to understand racial bias, says Hudson. “It’s great to see organizations and companies stand up and stand up and say that’s enough.”

Hudson said her role at Capital Group – and her new skills – comes at just the right time.

“Currently, we have several pandemics – COVID’s pandemic and the racism pandemic,” she said. “My job is to raise awareness; we must reveal the shape of the core of our society that needs to be dug up. ”

Although US institutions and companies still have a lot of work to do, Hudson is hopeful for the future.

“There will always be the people who dig in the heels of change,” she said. “But we’ve never talked about race in the workplace before and now people are actually talking about it – to make a difference, it starts with one person.”

More stories about: Alumni, Training, Veterans

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