Sibling bonds: Three sisters’ paths converge in Trevecca’s 2021 Ed.D. class

This spring, we’re highlighting a few candidates for our Ed.D. in leadership and professional practice at Trevecca who have a unique connection that’s added to their fulfillment as they’ve earned an advanced degree: they’ve been sharing their daily trials, challenges and successes with a brother or sister (or even multiple siblings) who’ll graduate alongside them.

Twins Amber Conway and Ashley Perry and their sister Lori Rucker have had intertwining experiences throughout their academic careers, but their pursuit of Trevecca’s Doctor of Education in leadership degree marks the first time all their paths have intersected in one place. Rucker, the twins’ senior by seven years, says they all have a lot in common despite an age gap that separated them in grade school.

“Usually siblings are not close for one reason or another, but I really see my sisters as my best friends,” Rucker said. “Even though twins have a special bond, the three of us have always done things together. We’re all in the same sorority (Alpha Kappa Alpha) and we all have a heart for God.”

Another commonality is a source of inspiration for working toward doctoral degrees. “Our grandmother encouraged us to go to the top in everything we did, but especially in our education,” Rucker said.

Perry added, “Our grandmother was adamant about all of us getting our doctorate. We made a promise to her that we would, and now we have.”

It was Conway who experienced Trevecca first - she earned a Master of Arts degree in counseling at TNU - and she initiated the conversation about the University’s advantages.

“Let’s just say I had the inside scoop about how wonderful Trevecca is,” Conway said. “I had an inkling that I’d get the same great experience in my quest for my doctoral degree, and we all discussed the possibility of all applying together for doctoral school.”  

Her time at Trevecca had illuminated some factors that were important to all three sisters.

“I loved the small class sizes, the personable faculty and staff, but the most important reason TNU was the best choice was that everything began with the Lord,” Conway said. “Each class began with a prayer from my professor/instructor. My dissertation defense began with a prayer from my advisor. Those prayers have brought me to this point, and for that I will be forever grateful.” 

It’s worth noting that all three sisters are pursuing quite different career paths, so their trajectories offer a prime example of the flexibility that comes with a doctorate in education.  

Conway counsels students and families about financial options at Belmont University, and she hopes to continue working with students from diverse backgrounds as they matriculate through college. Perry currently writes curriculum and designs professional development training for a music-based online education company, QuaverEd, where she also co-chairs the diversity, equity and inclusion committee. Rucker, a teacher at Eagleview Elementary School in Nashville, plans to work toward a position as an assistant principal and eventually become a principal. 

Futures that could take them in different directions will undoubtedly make the three siblings’ time together at Trevecca all the more memorable. It also gives the Ed.D. milestone - and their upcoming commencement ceremony - special significance as they look back on the past few years.

“We encouraged and prayed for each other during stressful moments, and cheered when we defended our dissertations,” Rucker said.

Added Perry, “It was a very challenging journey, but having my sisters with me made it so much easier to handle. We stayed on each other, even if that meant giving feedback that we didn't want to hear.”

Conway summed up the shared experience this way. “We were each other’s cheerleaders, prayer warriors, shoulder to cry on and outlet to vent to. We all reached this moment by divine order, and for that, I give God the praise and glory.”

Media Contact: Brian Bennett,