Why I Have Five Degrees

Among the thousands of LSU graduates, only fifteen alumni hold five degrees. LSUAA asked why the multiple academic credentials and how they’ve been put to use.

Among the thousands of LSU graduates, only fifteen alumni hold five degrees. LSU Alumni Magazine asked why the multiple academic credentials and how they’ve been put to use. Several alums share their stories here. This story was originally featured in the Spring 2019 LSU Alumni Magazine

John Albert Freeman

Professor of Educational Leadership/Interim Head, Center for Leadership and Learning/Director of the Ed.D. Program – Arkansas Tech University


• B.A. History 1976
• B.S. Secondary Education 1978
• M.Ed. Education Administration 1982
• Education Specialist Certificate 1995
• Ph.D. Education Administration 1997

I majored in history and after graduation attended law school for a year. Deciding that that was not my calling, I chose instead to become a history teacher, which prompted the need for a second undergraduate degree in education.

In education, degrees are required for advancement and further certification. My master’s degree gave me certification as a principal, the Ed.S. gave me certification as a superintendent, and the Ph.D. provided the credentials to move into higher education. I’m entering my thirty-eighth year and have seen seven years as a classroom history teacher, six years as a principal, two years at the Louisiana Department of Education, and twenty years in higher education at the University of Alabama, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and Arkansas Tech University. Today, I am the department head for the Center for Leadership and Learning and director of the Ed.D. program in School Leadership at Arkansas Tech.

My years attending LSU are years that I will always look back upon with nostalgia and great pleasure. If I could do it all over again, I would do it in a heartbeat.

Sharon Pol

Retired Executive Director, Baton Rouge Children’s Advocacy Center



• B.S. Elementary Education 1971
• M.Ed. Educational Media 1979
• Education Specialist Certificate 1981
• Masters of Library Science 1986
• Ph.D. Education Administration 1996

My story is pretty funny. I was not the greatest high school student – having too much fun and it followed me through undergraduate school. My father said he just "hoped I could get out of high school." I finished in three years because I was getting married and going to put my future husband through vet school, but that didn’t happen so I started teaching.
Louisiana had a Professional Improvement Program that paid for teachers to earn more degrees, which translated into more money. When I retired after a twenty-year career as a school librarian, I had four degrees and was only thirty hours away from a Ph.D. It took me seven years to get that last degree while doing contract work with the Department of Education and as a school/program evaluator.

In my career, I’ve been an elementary school teacher and librarian, program evaluator, pharmaceutical representative, and executive director of the Baton Rouge Children’s Advocacy Center. I’m now retired for the last time.


MOnica santaella

Instructor and Honors Advisor, LSU Department of Marketing



• B.S. Marketing 1994
• B.S. Management 1995
• M.S. Marketing 1998
• Master of Mass Communication 2001
• Ph.D. Human Ecology 2007

My career at LSU has been fruitful. I have served the University as a student worker, graduate assistant, and transient employee, and am now instructor and undergraduate faculty advisor in the Department of Marketing. Through my studies, I have worked for or collaborated with several academic programs, among them, International Programs, LSU Career Center, College of Agriculture, School of Art, E.J. Ourso College of Business, Law School, School of Social Work, Manship School of Mass Communication, Academic Affairs, and the LSU System.

I started out wanting to be in graphic design – and I almost qualify for an art degree. The LSU Union Gallery showed my artwork last summer. The East Baton Rouge Bluebonnet Library displayed my artwork for Hispanic Month. I have participated in several juried art shows, and one of my pieces is in a show at the Bath House Cultural Center in Dallas, Texas. La Voz, the newsletter for the Esperanza Center in San Antonio, Texas, published my poetry and illustration for their Día de Los Muertos issue.

At LSU, I have the chance to touch the lives of many of our students. It was an honor to be invited by my baseball students to serve as guest coach for a game. I also get the chance to see many former students when they stop me to thank me for my class and how much they miss having me.


David Dillon Weaver Mathies

Consultant, Emergent Method/Battalion Communications Officer, LANG



• B.A. History 2014
• B.A. in Political Science 2014
• B.A. Liberal Arts 2014
• Graduate Certificate in Analytics 2018
• M.B.A 2018

Although I started my undergraduate career in business administration, I wanted to pursue something closer to my interests so declared political science as my major, supplemented by a history minor. In my senior year, while chapter president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, I joined LSU Army ROTC, which required me to extend my school career. The history minor was quickly declared a major, and I added a liberal arts degree in disaster science for good measure. When my undergraduate career was finished, I held three B.A.’s and a commission in the Louisiana Army National Guard.

To progress my public and private sector careers, I decided to return to pursue an M.B.A. I started the professional program in 2016 and switched to the online program after my first year, as I was soon deploying overseas. With a specialization in analytics, I finished with my M.B.A. and graduate certificate only two weeks before returning to the States.

Currently, I use my education to chair a nonprofit for veterans, enhance my career in the National Guard, and conduct consulting services focused in disaster recovery for Emergent Method. I enjoy every minute of it. As a self-proclaimed “career student,” I have not ruled out pursuing a Ph.D. in the future. I love to read and write about ethics and political philosophy and hope to be published one day. None of my education, or success, could have been possible without the support of my parents, whom I cannot thank enough.


Cory John Hutchinson

Associate Professor for Research/Director of the Highway Safety Research Group, E.J. Ourso College of Business


• B.S. Quantitative Business Analysis 1991
• M.S. Quantitative Business Analysis 1993
• M.B.A. 1998
• M.S. Human Resource Education 2014
• Ph.D. Human Resource Education 2014

Even before arriving at LSU, I knew I wanted to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business to prepare myself for entering the workforce. In 1994, shortly after completing my graduate degree, I started working at LSU Office of Computing Services (OCS) as a computer programmer. While there, I obtained my M.B.A. and worked my way up to a manager’s position.

I left OCS in 2007 to become the information technology manager at the Highway Safety Research Group (HSRG) in the LSU College of Business. The HSRG is grant funded by the Department of Transportation and Development to collect, analyze, and disseminate crash data in the state. Since I would be working on grants within an academic environment, I decided to once again attend graduate school at LSU and work toward a Ph.D. In 2014, I obtained master’s and doctoral degrees in Human Resource Education & Workforce Development. After obtaining my Ph.D., I was named director of the HSRG, and I also hold an associate professor of research position, teaching business intelligence courses.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at LSU and have truly benefited in my career with each additional degree.


Michael Joseph Dauzat

Assessment Specialist, Office of Accountability, East Baton Rouge Parish Schools



• B.S. Math Education 1986
• M.Ed. Education Administration 1992
• M.A. Education 1992
• Education Specialist Certificate 1992
• Education Specialist Certificate 1994

By my first year at Marksville High School, I knew I wanted to be a math teacher and wanted to attend LSU. Being the first in my family to attend college, this was a big goal and along the way I developed several more: teach high school mathematics, teach math at LSU, become an administrator/supervisor, improve math instruction and learning, and pursue life-long learning.

My first degree enabled me to teach high school math. While teaching at Breaux Bridge High and Plaquemine High, I worked on advanced degrees to help me fulfill my other education career goals, which I did with my next three degrees.

I taught full time at LSU for four-and-a-half years, which was an incredible experience, but I still wanted to work with math education and instruction. I returned to teaching – in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System – and eventually became a district math content trainer/instructional specialist, and worked for four years with math teachers to improve instruction and learning.

My second education specialist certificate gave me the credentials to fulfill the goal of becoming district math supervisor, and I supervised elementary math coaches and district math coordinators in the parish for five years before assuming my current position as an assessment specialist.

My degrees opened opportunities for me to achieve my goals. My only regret is not completing the Ph.D. program.

Marlon Alberetos Greensword

Faculty Member/Coach, Keene High School



• B.S. General Studies 2005
• B.S. Industrial Engineering 2007
• M.S. Industrial Engineering 2010
• M.S. Civil Engineering 2015
• Ph.D. Engineering Science 2017

I pursued and earned these five degrees because although I tirelessly looked for jobs every time I earned a degree, the job market was quite unfavorable. Each time I earned an additional degree, I hoped it would help me find a good position, only to be disappointed. After earning a Ph.D., there was no higher program for me to pursue, so I am now teaching high school.

I have taught pre-calculus, algebra, and engineering at Scotlandville Magnet High, where I also coached track – I attended LSU on a track and field scholarship – and
I owned a drywall and painting business until last year. Today, I teach pre-calculus and math models and coach track and field, cross-country, and soccer at Keene High School in Keene, Texas.


This story is part of a story from the Spring 2019 issue of LSU Alumni Magazine. If you would like to receive future issues of our print publication become a member of LSU Alumni Association. 

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