Learner’s goal for doctorate: serving fellow vets
Sixth in a series highlighting learners in the College of Doctoral Studies.
By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau
There is a clear motivation behind Air Force veteran Stefney Dunson’s pursuit of his Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Behavioral Health degree from the College of Doctoral Studies – help make a positive impact on his fellow veterans.
“My goal is to go back into the VA system and help with the issue of homelessness and see if we can bring those numbers down,” Dunson said during the residency last month. “I know there’s a lot of issues out there with veterans right now, and after spending 28 years in the military and having some of my young folks go into the world and end up homeless, I want to be able to continue to serve, in some way, those who wore the uniform.”
Dunson began his military career at age 17 when he enlisted in the United States Air Force and moved through the ranks before retiring as a master sergeant. He then served his community in another way as a mental health counselor in his home state of Colorado.
It is a service-driven mentality that runs in the family. His 28-year-old daughter also is in the mental health field and is looking to obtain her doctorate at Grand Canyon University.
“It’s something that I think we enjoy doing, is helping people,” he said.
As he nears the dissertation phase of his program, Dunson plans to use his research to determine if someone is at risk of homelessness before they are actually homeless.
“One way, I believe, to address homelessness is to look at stopping the issue before they become homeless,” he said. “Anything from couch surfing to actually being in a shelter is considered at risk of homelessness. That’s what I’m looking at.”
He estimates that he puts in 2-3 hours daily into his research. It is a schedule that hasn’t left a lot of time for his hobbies, such as riding his Harley Davidson, but one that he deems worth it.
“I don’t regret not having more hobbies because this is so important right now,” he said. “I mean, we’re in the last stretch and I just want to get it done.
“It’s a rewarding experience. You learn a lot about yourself as you push yourself even further than you’ve pushed yourself before in education.”
Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected].