Please join The Writers’ Exchange in congratulating Dr. Mark McMillian in the successful completion of his dissertation:



Black Parent Advocacy and Educational Success: Lessons Learned on the Use of Voice and Engagement

Black children encounter racism in American schools and parents need to advocate for them. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore how Black parents developed and used their voice to advocate for their children in a predominantly White educational system with a history of racially disparate outcomes. Particularly, this study drew on the experiences of 15 participants, two men—one was a grandfather—and 13 women, whose children had successful outcomes in graduating from high school and going on to post-secondary education. The findings reflect Black parents’ understanding of the need to advocate to support their child’s success in getting through school: all related incidents of discrimination where they needed to speak up on behalf of their child in response to inequitable treatment within the educational system including in the classroom, participating in extracurricular activities, and in access to resources. Parents facilitated their use of voice on behalf of their children by cultivating engagement with the school, getting to know teachers and administrators, and being involved in their children’s activities, making sure they were seen to make sure they would be heard when needed.


WEX is always interested in learning from successful writers about their process. Here, Dr. Mark McMillian shares a few pointers:


How has WEX professional coaching/editing support promoted your academic and/or professional success?

My experience with my WEX editor was very positive. The feedback received helped me to get to the publishing stage. The edits were clear to understand and respond to and the turnaround time was quite fast. It was indeed a good experience and highly appreciated and recommended.


What advice would you give to others writing a dissertation?

Focusing is so very important when writing the dissertation because there can be many distractions. This was particularly true for me when I was trying to make sense of the stories in my narrative inquiry research process. The writer, me in this case, has their own ideas from the participants’ told stories of experiences, that come into consideration and these self-reflected thoughts must be addressed if authentic work will truly emerge. The truth is all research has influencers. The participants in my study shared their stories with me in a plain and straightforward manner that seemed very honest and authentic. These shared stories were quite painful to me as I listened again and again to them to discover themes and sub themes. It was exhausting at times to say the least. Narrative Inquiry, I think, most aptly addressed the meanings of the stories truthfully, but choosing the right method of inquiry for one’s study has considerable bearing on the information that will be disclosed through the process. This is the beginning portion of the focused dissertation process and a most important consideration.


What are your next steps in your academic/professional career?

A Short Bio for Mark A. McMillian, Ph.D.

I want to honor my mother and all the parents that have used their voice and helped us get to this point in our personal journeys. Remembering these very special people of our lineage, learning about their lives and seeking to understand the context in which they lived their lives gives us a perspective on the work of our own lived journey. I cannot say enough about my own mother’s courageous, wise and indomitable spirit. She was quite a special lady, indeed. She would however want me to talk about myself on an occasion like this one.

She would want me to say things like I am a seasoned entrepreneur and have worked in diverse industries. As a consultant I’ve helped leaders to understand the things in their way and supported them in making the needed changes to motivate and lead their teams to perform. I’ve trained, coached and strategized with decision-makers on tactical and personal/professional development. I’ve been self-employed having started businesses on my own, and I’ve also worked in the public, nonprofit, and private sectors.

My mother was especially proud of my academic achievements. Afterall, I was the little boy the teacher said was academically ‘slow’. No one thinks that today. I attended and graduated from Central State University on an Academic and Athletic Scholarship. I have two master’s degrees from Cleveland State University, both paid for with scholarships, and I was on the Dean’s List for both. I attended the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University as a Senior Executive in State and Local Government, on scholarship as well. These were all very rich experiences for me, but my mom would have been so delighted to know that her little boy now has both a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Leadership and Change from the Antioch University. The University started by Horace Mann. She has passed away, but I still think she sees me down here and I know she is so proud of me. This is the reason for my passion in my own community. I want to make a difference in others’ lives, too.

“Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.” Horace Man



Mark McMillian, PhD, Graduate School in Leadership & Change, Antioch University