Helping others is key for veteran in doctoral program

June 04, 2021 / by / 0 Comment

Russell Kuhn is working toward his Ph.D. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Performance Psychology.

Fourth in a series highlighting learners in the College of Doctoral Studies. 

By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau

Russell “Russ” Kuhn has made a career out of helping people.

Before he began working on a Ph.D. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Performance Psychology from the College of Doctoral Studies in 2020, he had built a diverse resumé.

When he was only 17, Kuhn began what would become a 30-year career as a member of the United States Navy. He later earned his bachelor’s degree in Marketing in 1991 and a master’s in Management and Leadership in 2014.

In addition to his service to the country, he also was a lobbyist, worked in sales and served as a Child Protective Services caseworker and a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) acting as an advocate for abused and neglected children.

Kuhn also dabbled as an entrepreneur and started his own company before giving it up to move back home to Oregon to help his mother take care of his father before he died of Alzheimer’s.

Now, Kuhn has set his sights on helping a new demographic as a university development counselor at Grand Canyon University.

With such a service-driven career, it would only make sense that helping others would play a key role in shaping Kuhn’s research and dissertation.

“I’m hoping my dissertation itself will help universities significantly improve doctoral graduation rates,” said Kuhn, who finished his first doctoral residency last month. “My goal is to be able to use what I learn to help people around me in everything I do.”

Kuhn is researching the impact that positive relationships with academic faculty have on the graduation rates within both synchronous (50% graduation rate) and asynchronous (30% graduation rate) doctoral programs. He hopes his research will help bridge that gap.

“One of the things we have found that significantly impacts doctoral graduation rates is substantive meaningful supportive relationships with academic faculty,” he said. “When you’re on campus, you have that.”

His own experiences in the doctoral program have been instructive. The connections he built early in the program have helped guide him.

“You are not alone, so don’t try to do it alone,” he said. “That also goes for people thinking about it. If you’re thinking about it, reach out to people that have got a Ph.D., or if you can’t, reach out to people like myself who are in the program.”

His favorite part of the doctoral program has been the opportunity to participate in the development of new knowledge.

“You go through this identity change,” he said. “You go from somebody who is a consumer of knowledge to somebody who creates it.”

What does Kuhn like to do when he takes time away from his busy schedule? It shouldn’t be a surprise, given his Navy service.

He enjoys boating.

Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected].


Related content:

GCU Today: Education never gets old for 75-year-old learner

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GCU Today: She’s fashioning an inspiring example for her family

GCU Today: Doctoral learners make grand return to campus

GCU Today: Residency friendship turns into business partnership

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