A few years older than most traditional undergraduates, Saletta Holloway found herself back in the classroom at age 37, finishing her bachelor’s degree. In her family, education has always ranked high, and she wanted to finish what she’d started.
Now—several years and few degrees later, Saletta is now Dr. Holloway, and her cousin Barbara is Dr. Tharpe.
And soon, the same will be said of Saletta’s daughter, Alicia, and her niece, Trecie.
“Trevecca gave me some power that I didn’t know I had—it allowed me to be able to complete my degree at the age of 37 without feeling bad about being in a room full of young students,” Saletta said. “I was able to study and be with people my own age. When I decided it was time to do my doctorate, they had open arms for me. It was the greatest feeling in the world. It was that kind of a feeling, that kind of a homecoming.”
Holloway and her cousins, Barbara and Vickie, enrolled in Trevecca’s Doctor of Education in leadership and professional practice (Ed.D.) program together. A few years later, Saletta’s daughter Alicia and Barbara’s daughter Trecie found themselves on the Hill, too.
“They have been together since they were born,” Saletta said. “They went to school and even started in college together. They’ve been together pretty much all their lives, so when they made the decision to get their doctorates, there was nothing else to do for them to do but to do it together. It’s just a family thing.”
Barbara echoed that sentiment, adding that it couldn’t have happened any other way—higher education is something the family has always pushed for.
“Having received a doctorate and have other family members in that same arena, it’s wonderful and it shows everyone what to strive for,” Barbara said. “And now, to see my mini-me taking that plunge—we’ve always been a family of education, wanting to strive to do better, and to see her working so hard is amazing.”
Saletta and Barbara, along with their cousin Vickie, had become known as “the cousins” when they completed their master’s degrees at Cumberland University. So when it came time to get their doctorates, Saletta figured they’d achieve that educational milestone the same way they had every other: together.
“When I decided I wanted to get my doctorate, I went to them and said, ‘Let’s do this,’” Saletta recalled. “They said they weren’t ready yet, but I’m the oldest—I was ready to step it up. I kept myself down for too long and not doing things I should have gone ahead and done. You know how we do—we get grown, and we don’t listen to God sometimes, but it came to the point that I just had to listen.”
Barbara sees her Trevecca experience as part of God’s plan for her life, too.
“I had been contemplating getting my doctorate for so long, but it was completely a God thing,” Barbara said. “After I got into the program, I was thinking, ‘What have I done? Was it the right path?’ I stayed the course and stepped out on faith and believed in the process. God took me through.”
These days, Saletta and Barbara are cheering on their daughters as they finish their doctoral degrees. Just like their mothers were at Cumberland University, Trecie and Alicia have been dubbed “The Cousins” in their current cohort at Trevecca.
After going through elementary school and starting at the University of Memphis together, Alicia and Trecie say it only feels natural to be in the classroom together again.
“I’m two months older than Alicia is, and our moms were pregnant together,” Trecie said. “We grew up like half a mile from each other, and I was always over at her house. We’ve just always been side-by-side, journeying together, and I couldn’t imagine going on this journey with anyone else.
“Having her in the program with me, we can voice things in a different way, and having somebody on a personal level that you can relate to it makes things different,” she continued.
For Alicia, the experience has been just as important.
“Going through the program with Trecie has been awesome. We encourage, cry and laugh together,” Alicia said. “She’s my cousin, but I think of her as my sister and one of my best friends. It’s great to have someone to understand the journey that we’re embarking [on].”
Trevecca has been a blessing, Saletta says, to all the women in her family who have walked its hallowed halls.
“We have been blessed by what we’ve gotten out of Trevecca, and I hope Trevecca has been blessed by what they’ve put into us,” Saletta said.
To learn more about Trevecca’s Doctor of Education in leadership and professional practice, visit trevecca.edu/edd.