By Charles Hallman
Longtime educator and MSR prep sports columnist-reporter Mitchell McDonald earlier this month added yet another title before his name: Doctor. McDonald graduated on October 5 with his Doctor of Education degree from Argosy University, Twin Cities.
The O’Shaughnessy Auditorium at St. Catherine University in St. Paul was filled with many families, friends, and other supporters during its graduate commencement ceremony for the 71 students who earned master’s or doctorate degrees from Argosy’s various academic programs, including McDonald. He was among four students receiving an educational doctorate from the school.
“It feels good,” admitted McDonald afterwards to the MSR, “but at the same time, I know my mom and dad were here in spirit, but I really wanted them in the audience.” His parents were Mary Palmer McDonald, who died in 2010, and Kwame
McDonald, who died in 2011.
“But they were with me anyway,” said his late parents’ only child.
As his parents were longtime educators, McDonald is a longtime social studies teacher at St. Paul Johnson High School. Along with his yearbook advisory duties, he also writes a weekly prep sports column for the MSR.
“It feels good to accomplish something that furthers my education,” McDonald said, “and to be an example for others that no matter what happens to you in your life, you can accomplish anything that you want to accomplish.”
McDonald began his doctoral work in 2008 but midway through took time off. “I would have completed it two years ago, but my dad got sick,” he noted. “He always kind of took the blame for slowing my progress, and he made me promise him that I would finish, though there were times I wanted to quit.”
His doctoral thesis, “” was partly suggested by his father, continued McDonald. “Whatever I studied, I wanted to focus on African American students,” he explained.
“My father talked me into focusing on African American athletes and dispelling the myth that African American athletes don’t finish school. I decided to go positive [with] my dissertation on a school that has a reputation for doing well by African American students and student athletes. That was one of the reasons why I chose Concordia University.”
Then McDonald added with a wry smile, “Knowing my dad, he wanted me to [do] an African American focus — that was just my dad. I didn’t have any choice anyway.
“When I got my master’s degree,” noted McDonald, “I thought I knew enough to continue in my teaching career and my writing career. But you can never learn enough.
“Through this whole process, I found out about dedication and hard work, and I found out about needing support from people and I can’t do it by myself. I needed support from my friends and family, and I needed encouragement. That’s what I ended up learning — you can always learn more.”
Now armed with his doctorate, McDonald said, “I am not sure [what’s next] right now. I just want to continue teaching at Johnson High School, then probably help African American youth succeed at whatever avenues those take me to.
“I’m happy that I’m done,” he concludes, “and I am really happy because it was something that my mom and dad wanted. And I know they are smiling now.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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