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Georgia Southern doctorate program ‘transforms life’ of spring graduate

“Great things come out of Thomaston, Georgia.”

It’s a saying that LaToya Stackhouse always heard from her friends and family growing up, and she wholeheartedly believes.

“I never shy away from saying where I am from,’ said Stackhouse. “I have had time to go away, give back to my community and now make a difference somewhere else in the world.”

When starting her academic journey at Georgia Southern over 20 years ago, Stackhouse followed a passion for sports and majored in sports management. When her dream to secure an internship with the NFL didn’t come to fruition, she was offered an internship with the Georgia Southern Athletic Department. The internship led to a full-time position that changed the path of Stackhouse’s career forever.

Working in compliance for the University’s athletic teams, Stackhouse discovered a passion for working with students. The change in trajectory would lead Stackhouse through positions as a middle school teacher and federal TRIO program director and, ultimately, back to higher education to work with college students.

“I realized everything I had been doing and enjoying in my career was a form of teaching,” said Stackhouse. “And I loved it.”

Stackhouse enrolled in the master’s of higher education administration degree program at Georgia Southern and couldn’t get enough.

“I knew right away that I was doing the right thing,” she said. “The coursework expanded my knowledge as I was working in higher education. I loved it, and I wanted more. Right after graduating, I applied and was accepted into the Ed.D. Curriculum Studies program.”

Stackhouse said under the mentorship of many individuals in higher education, she has been allowed to “go and grow.” Starting as an academic advisor at Georgia Southwestern State University, she was promoted to director of Residential and Campus Life where she created a residential learning community for Black males.

“Black males had the lowest retention rate at the institute,” she explained. “When I learn something, I use it, so I used what knowledge and skills I was getting from my coursework at Georgia Southern in the doctoral program, as well as my connections with individuals from the program, to create an opportunity for retention through community for young Black males.”

After the first semester, retention increased to 88%, and the institution increased in enrollment from students’ wanting to be a part of the community.

In January, Stackhouse accepted a new position as the Director of Student Affairs at Florida State University’s Panama City campus (FSU-PC). The first residence hall opened on the FSU-PC campus in August 2021, and Stackhouse is excited for the opportunity to build the campus’ student affairs department.

“I am a learner,” said Stackhouse. “I want to take what I learn and use it in ways that will better the lives of students. The curriculum studies program at Georgia Southern has transformed my life and my career. One day, I hope to cross over and become faculty to give back to students as the University has given to me.”


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