Grass, trees & Co-Lin in new life
By Bob Arnold
Stephanie Duguid – the Dean of Academic Instruction at Co-Lin since 2017 -- and her husband Brent settled in Copiah County following Hurricane Katrina in 2006, attracted by its small towns and rural life with grass and trees and to get away from the hustle-bustle and congestion of Phoenix, Arizona, where they had spent most of their career lives.
“We discovered the area when we came to Hazlehurst in 2000 to attend the wedding of my college roommate and fell in love with it,” she says.
Over the next few years, the Duguids plotted their departure from Phoenix, where they experienced much of its burgeoning growth from a city of one million to 4.5 million between 1997 and 2007. After purchasing some land near Hazlehurst they made their move with a lot of hope about the future, but no jobs or other certainties that more cautious people might have wanted.
“When locals asked us about why we relocated, my husband would joke that we were in the witness protection program,” she recalls.
Actually, Duguid was first introduced to Mississippi life in the 1990s when she played volleyball on a scholarship at the University of Southern Mississippi and earned a BS in Human Performance with an emphasis in athletic training at the Hattiesburg campus.
Duguid spent her childhood and youth in Sugar Land, Texas, southwest of Houston, where she grew up on a ranch, rode horses, competed in barrels, poles and goat-riding tying in rodeos, played volleyball and soccer, and was an active student at Clements High School, where she served on the student council and was voted Most Athletic in her senior class.
For 25 years, she has been an educator, starting at age 19 as a teaching assistant in college and an American Red Cross First Aid and CPR trainer and focusing on sports medicine throughout her career.
After graduating from USM in 1995, she headed for Phoenix and A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Health Sciences, where she earned an MS in Sports Health Care in 1997 and then started her work life at Northern Arizona University as the assistant athletic trainer in charge of women’s sports from 1997 to 1999. From 2000 to 2007, Duguid taught math, biology, earth science and sports health care in junior high and high school, while earning an MA in education, curriculum and instruction at Ottawa University in Phoenix in 2006.
Her mother's death in an automobile accident in 2001 was a life-changing event and prompted her to pursue a Doctor of Education in educational leadership in 20036 at Phoenix-based Argosy University, which she received in 2006. “I had followed in my mom’s footsteps as an educator, and we had discussed my career direction and advancement by studying for a terminal degree,” she explains.
An education and career were not the only part of Duguid’s Phoenix life over 12 years. She also met Brent Duguid, now her husband, with whom she packed her bags and headed for southwest Mississippi for a future that has included Co-Lin for both of them and rearing kids as well.
Soon after landing here, Duguid connected with the Co-Lin Health, Physical Education and Recreation (HPR) Division as a summer adjunct instructor, a former CTE administrator which took note of her career and technical education (CTE) experience in Arizona and hired her as Assistant Dean for the college’s CTE division on its Natchez campus. After a year there from 2007 to 2008, she took over as Division Chair/Instructor in the college’s HPR division on the Wesson campus in 2008, became Assistant Dean of Academic Instruction in 2012 and moved into her current position as Dean of Academic Instruction in 2017.
Her husband, meanwhile, worked as a handyman, served in part-time roles as a fifth and seventh grade teacher at Wesson Attendance Center and was an employee at Gatlin Hydraulics before Co-Lin hired him as a Navigator (counselor) for students in its MI-BEST degree advancement program, and subsequently moved him into positions as Assistant Dean of CTE and then Dean of Career Technical, Workforce and Adult Education.
In her role at Co-Lin, Duguid is chief academic officer responsible for overall institutional rigor, including faculty credentialing, courses and educational growth opportunities for students, partnerships with other colleges and universities and grant development related to academic programs, including nursing.
Beyond Co-Lin, Duguid also is a speaker and consultant on making positive life changes, particularly in support of women educators and leaders, through her own organization – Do Good Enterprises LLC. Follow her on Facebook at Stephanie Rector Duguid or Do Good Leadership
What are your hobbies? I enjoy my family, including two boys aged 13 and 14 and a stepdaughter, who is 28 years old. My father, a retired engineer, also moved here recently from Texas, and has become part of the Mississippi family. I play enjoy spending time with the boys and watch movies with them.
Are you a reader? I am mostly into professional development books – Jon Gordon, John Maxwell and James Clear, among others.
Do you enjoy movies or theater? I watch Hallmark, baseball and Marvel movies on family fun nights and weekends.
Do you enjoy any music?
I listen to Country and Christian music.
What would you do with lottery winnings if you were so lucky? I want to give back to the community. I recently set up a scholarship with the Co-Lin Foundation for students in nursing, education and social work in honor memory of my late mother, a dedicated teacher who died much too early. I would provide opportunities for local individuals to apply for grants to the Town of Wesson for small business startups or community projects. Perhaps converting an old building in which new businesses and organizations could share office space.
How would you change the world?
That’s what I am trying to do with Do Good Enterprises as a speaker, trainer and coach, helping people to be good, do good, and feel good, while infusing positivity and balance into their lives.