Shyla Dogan '12 '19: Becoming a Role Model

By:
Katy Smith, Chris Richards photo
Shyla Dogan

• Erasmus Circle Scholarship
• Everett L. Holden and Marian G. Holden 
• Memorial Scholarship
• Ph.D. Educational Leadership, M.A. Middle Eastern and North African Studies

“I have relatives who say, ‘We can’t believe we have a Ph.D. in the family,’” says Shyla Dogan. “And that shows their children something. It shows people who start where we did can do it.” 

In high school, Dogan’s homework wasn’t always done because she dealt with recurring homelessness. Her counselor told her not to enroll in an SAT prep class because she would take up the space of someone who would actually go to college.

Dogan found educators who believed in her, first at a community college and eventually at the University of Arizona. The academic, financial and moral support she’s experienced has meant the world to Dogan and her family.

When she and her husband adopted her two grandnieces, the financial strain was intense. 

“I’m not sure I would have been able to continue without the support,” she says. “Because I would have probably said, ‘I’ll get a job and then go back.’ And that may have happened or not.”

Now Dogan’s plan is to follow the example many of her professors have set.

“They’re who I want to be as an academic. I would love to be the professor who tells students they belong.”

When Dogan addressed her fellow graduates as the College of Education’s Outstanding Graduate Student, she urged them to remember their potential to make a difference.

“Sometimes we make a lot of assumptions and write people off way too soon. You don’t know what someone is capable of until you give them the chance to show it.”