Two sets of Trevecca siblings make their way through the Ed.D. program. 

By Bailey Basham

Sibling rivalry can be a powerful motivator. Competing to earn the highest grades, working to be the best at little league or even hustling to sell the most cookies in the Girl Scouts troop are all on the table for brothers and sisters.

And for two sets of siblings at Trevecca studying in the School of Graduate and Continuing Studies, the sibling rivalry is very much alive and well.

Sisters Ashley Perry and Amber Conway and siblings Seneca and Sidney-Anthony McPhee just finished their first semester in the Doctorate of Education in leadership and professional practice program (Ed.D.). 

The Sisters

Amber Conway, who studied at Trevecca for her master’s degree, said she beat her sister, Ashley Perry, to the program. That’s because Conway started looking at Trevecca for her doctorate before her sister did. Having already studied at Trevecca, Conway says she knew what to expect.

“I was actually looking at the program before Ashley because I knew the type of school Trevecca was. I was debating whether I was ready or not ready, and I decided I just needed to do it because no time was the right time,” she said. “Ashley was going back and forth trying to decide, and I told her about Trevecca.”

Perry remembers things a little differently.

“I kind of thought we decided together, interestingly enough,” she said, with a laugh. “Of course, Amber graduated from there, but I had decided to put into my vision and goals at the beginning of the year that I was going to step out on faith and try to apply. I was like, ‘Lord, if you want me to do this then everything will flow smoothly,’ and it did.”

The Siblings

For the McPhees, the process of deciding on Trevecca was similar.

“It’s funny because I didn’t realize he applied to the program,” Seneca said. “He was a little secretive about it. I was interested in it and mentioned it casually to my parents and to him, and he had asked me about it, but I didn’t know he applied until a couple months later. He told me and said he got accepted, and it was really exciting. I kind of joke with him now about not telling me he was applying.”

Sidney-Anthony says that was all part of the plan.

“I just thought it would be funny to show up the same day and her not know I was going to be there. We talked about it, and I thought it would be funny to go sit by her in class without saying anything,” he joked.

Sibling Rivalry

“I am older than she is, so this is our first time being in classes together. There is plenty of friendly competition. She always says she got her master’s before I did, and she’s always checking to see what our grades are. And that’s kind of one of the things I really enjoy about being in the cohort model—just having the support of the other students and having that accountability partner as well. Seneca and I will send text messages reminding each other of assignments, and we’ll kind of bounce some ideas off each other. It’s been good.” 

Conway said that friendly competition has been good for her and Perry as well.

“Being in school with family just allows you to have an accountability partner just in case you forget an assignment or something,” she said. And it’s nice to know you always have someone to go eat your breakfast and lunch with, too.”

Perry agreed.

“Of course the support is wonderful, and I love the fact that we can work in the program together, but having totally different backgrounds—she’s higher-ed and I’m K-6—and learning about what she is trying to do and supporting her is great. She can stay on me about certain stuff, and I can stay on her and motivate her. And we can compete with GPA to keep each other accountable. I count her as my best friend,” Perry said.

Perry earned her undergraduate degree from a larger state school, and she said, on top of the recommendation from her sister, the intimacy of Trevecca’s campus and the small class sizes are what drew her in.

“It’s hard to not just feel like a number at bigger schools, and at Trevecca, you’re actually able to have access to the professors,” she said. “We’re just very blessed that we were accepted together. That’s a huge blessing.”

Family Goals

Sidney-Anthony said that his ultimate goal is to be a change-maker for students navigating their education journeys because he remembers struggling through parts of his own. He didn’t know of the help his college offered, and he wants to change that for the students he’s working with now. And after just one semester, he is already noticing the benefits of being in the program.

“I’ve already been able to implement some of the things we’ve been learning,” he said. “Taking StrengthsFinder and understanding my own strengths has made me able to see the strengths in the people I work with and put people in positions that allow them to use their own strengths.”

Seneca said her ultimate goal is similar to her brother’s in that way.

“I’m a learner. I always have been, and I constantly want to get more knowledge. I always tell my students that knowledge is power, and I just want to learn more about how to be a better leader,” Seneca said. “My ultimate goal is to take whatever I learn and transfer [that] to someone else. I don’t know how that’s going to happen but I’m walking on faith and loving what I do.”



Bailey Basham is a recent Trevecca graduate and currently works as a freelance journalist. She loves writing, browsing Pinterest for new recipes to try and spending time with her dogs Ruthie (after the candy bar) and Pico (last name, de Gallo).