Name: Jacque Eaves
Hometown: Fredericksburg, Va.
Profession: Life Coach and Career Advisor
Degree Earned From Capella University: PhD in Human Services
My name is Jacque. I grew up in a military family and spent much of my childhood in Little Rock, Ark. I attended a local university and graduated with a sociology degree in May 1995. Two years later, I married a man I’d met and fallen in love with during college. Our wedding was everything I dreamed of, surrounded by family and friends. Because my husband was training to be a navy pilot, we moved to Texas and then Virginia, the first in a series of transfers.
A Master’s Degree, Then Motherhood
In 2001, I received a master’s in guidance and counseling and went to work at a well-paying job at a leading human-services agency, providing therapeutic intervention and services for children at risk of removal from the home due to their behavior in the home, school, and/or community. I met amazing, talented children and teens. I also met traumatized and confused ones.
Around this time, I learned that I would need fertility treatments to conceive a child of my own. Infertility treatments and frequent deployments do not mix well when timing is everything, however. After considerable emotional pain and yet another relocation, my husband and I decided to pursue adoption. Within one week to the day of completing our required foster parent classes, we received a call that a newborn needed placement.
The vetting process was long and daunting with frequent home visits and court hearings, but at a ceremony at the courthouse on National Adoption Day, we finally became the parents of a beautiful baby girl. I was in awe of the number of African American children present at the ceremony and stunned by the lack of African American adoptive families. I felt compelled to do something; I just didn’t know what.
A year later, we moved to Japan. Living overseas was a turning point in my life. My husband was out to sea over 75% of the time, so I made the most of the time by taking an active role with my sorority, spending quality time with my daughter, and most important, time for me praying and seeking guidance for my life. I was frustrated with restarting my career with each move.
Ambitions, Setbacks, Perseverance
One evening, my husband and I were brainstorming my next steps. I knew I wanted a PhD, and an online program seemed best for me as it afforded me the flexibility and offered the challenge I needed for this season in my life. I enrolled in a doctoral program at Capella University.
The time came for us to transition back to the U.S. I was going a hundred miles a minute trying to ensure that I stayed on top of course requirements and deadlines. I emailed my instructors to let them know that I was traveling internationally and would make every effort to stay on top of assignments. I boarded a flight from Tokyo bound for Chicago with textbooks and our four-year-old daughter in tow. My husband was on a different flight.
Three days later, I woke up in the hospital. I had suffered an inflight emergency: meningitis, rooted in complications from a previous sinus surgery and compounded by altitude. I was required to stay there for 10 days to continue my medication regiment. My life changed forever. I learned to pay attention to my body and to maintain a sense of balance.
Balancing Family and Studies
Our family settled into our new home in northern Virginia and my studies continued. I got a job at a human-services agency providing services to homeless children and families. My work with this population often required night hours, a conflict with my values as a parent. I wanted to be home to feed my family and put my daughter to bed. The stress of work, family, and school began to take its toll.
Eventually, I passed comprehensive exams and began to explore a possible thesis for study. I was encouraged to pursue a study that could sustain my interest long-term. At the time, my husband and I were in the process of adopting a second child—a boy—and I was shocked by the disproportionate number of African Americans in foster care and available for adoption. I began the task of narrowing the subject to something that would add to the body of literature on the topic.
The week of my defense, I received a call from the adoption agency that had helped us find both our children. The social workers wanted to know if we would consider a possible placement of a biological sibling for one of our children. It forced my husband and I to determine if we would include another child in our family (we ultimately decided against it), but it also reminded me that my study was indeed relevant. The need for foster adoptive homes remains.
The day before my defense, I received an article that my state successfully placed over 1,000 foster children in adoptive homes due in part to a social media awareness campaign. This was the evidence that I needed to support the Adoption Awareness Theory that emerged from the study.
In 2013, I graduated from Capella with a PhD in Human Services. While my life has not been perfect, I am blessed and able to say that it is filled with purpose. Every challenge that I have faced has led me closer to where I am supposed to be in this journey called life. I will continue to advocate for children in foster care. I know how much joy they can bring to a family.
Read more of Jacque’s story in “Their Journey to the PhD: Stories of Personal Perseverance and Academic Achievement,” compiled by fellow Capella University graduate Amina Abdullah-Winstead, PhD.