Presenting “Phoenix Strong”

Presenting “Phoenix Strong”

Within diversity and inclusion, one of the greatest challenges within our society is being open to the differences of others.  While it is often easier to rely on beliefs we hold as true, competency within inclusiveness is only gained through the willingness to ask questions of others for understanding and challenging our own belief systems. Although we are conditioned to think of diversity primarily through the lenses of race and gender, our individual diversity is amassed within the infinite types of demographics and categories we represent, including our group memberships.  For me, one such membership is that of being a “Phoenix.”

This week, I traveled to a conference to present the results of a recent research project.  On the day of my session, as I set up my PowerPoint presentation, I noticed several participants entering the room. To my delight, every seat was filled and participants had started to assemble along the back of the wall. While presenting, I was excited to see that participants were extremely engaged, taking notes and giving an occasional nod of agreement. At the conclusion, I received a hearty round of applause and opened the session for questions. Interestingly, within the Q&A, a line of questioning emerged about my University ties...

Q. Thank you for an excellent presentation! Where are you from again?

A. I am a Phoenix!

Q. I was unaware that University of Phoenix had academics...

A. I don’t consider myself solely an academic. Although I have faculty and administrative experience within academia, I also have practical experience within my field, working in both government and corporations. Therefore, I consider myself more of a pracademic!  At University of Phoenix, we definitely represent a substantive collection of academic backgrounds and practitioner experiences.

Q. What does research look like at University of Phoenix?

A. We are fortunate to have faculty, students, and alumni who possess both the academic credentials and “real world” experiences that support a holistic learning environment.  We utilize these assets in various forms of scholarship and research that further bodies of knowledge and provide practical solutions to numerous industries, such as business, technology, education, and healthcare.

Q. Why did you choose University of Phoenix as a career path?

A. I was fortunate to find a position within the University of Phoenix that supports my desire to conduct the types of research and scholarship that translates into practical solutions for organizations. We have many faculty, students, and alumni who are engaged in research and scholarship that substantially contributes to bodies of empirical and practitioner knowledge. As a university research chair, one of the most rewarding aspects of my position is being able to engage with cohorts of professionals with the same goals.

Following the question and answer segment, several members of the audience stayed to discuss my research, aspects of their own research, possible collaborations, and learn more about the work we do at University of Phoenix. In honesty, I left my session feeling highly engaged in my field, respected for my work, and extremely proud of the organization I represent.

In reflection, the interaction above reminded me of an important tenet within the field of diversity and inclusion.  In order to understand people as their “true selves,” we must be willing and open to challenge our own beliefs and biases of others.  Never did I feel uncomfortable, as I assumed positive intent and considered it an ideal situation to present us in a collective forum of our peers.  Although the line of questioning strayed slightly from my presentation topic, I appreciated this type of dialogue, as it presented an opportunity to both highlight the exceptional work of all and provided a deeper understanding of who we are, as a university.  No one can tell our story better than we can!

Each question asked about University of Phoenix is a welcomed one, as it is an opportunity for discovery.  As ambassadors of the University of Phoenix, I am confident in our commitment to represent quality and remain true to our core values: Brave, Honest, and Focused... We are definitely Phoenix strong!


Rehema Underwood's picture Rehema Underwood | November 30, 2017 12:19 pm MST

Thank you Dr. Kimberly for sharing your amazing experience! I am proud to be a member of the Phoenix communitiy, and look forward to sharing my experience with others. And yes, we are definitely Phoenix strong!

Thank you again for sharing!



James Ashton's picture James Ashton | March 14, 2018 3:31 pm MST

Dr. Kimberly, 

Phoenix Strong has enlightened me to be who I am as a faculty and researcher  of UOPX!  I have been a member of this esteemed faculty for almost eight years now and I would not have this any other way!  Thank you for your words of wisdom and inspriation!

Thank you for your strong words!




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