When Drs. Chenita Clay and Rosalind Fields first met during a Doctor of Business Administration residency meeting in 2017, they never imagined the friendship that would form over the following years. By supporting each other throughout the program, both women were able to earn their DBAs.
Fields was seeking input on assignments. Clay was looking for motivation. What they both found was an inspiring partnership, a plan for weekends away to study, and a friend for life.
“We talked a little bit at the DBA residency, exchanged phone numbers and we talked about the idea of meeting up; the first meeting was in Orlando,” said Clay. “We really enjoyed being in an environment where we were on the same page; we understood one another.”
Fields lives in Atlanta and works for Delta Air Lines. Clay lives in Jacksonville, Florida, and works for Allstate Benefits.
“We stayed at a beautiful resort in Orlando but we worked all day and night. We took a total of one hour off to go buy new book bags before going back to start studying again,” remembers Fields.
The two soon decided that their weekend of studying and support would need to be repeated. They decided to plan their second weekend, and all subsequent trips after that, in Tybee Island, a small beach outside of Savannah, Georgia.
The two friends met there upwards of 12 times before their DBA programs were complete.
“We had a routine,” said Fields. “I would bring the snacks; she would bring the waters. We would make breakfast before we started writing and stay up until two or three in the morning.”
“We had the same mindset but we both enjoyed it,” said Clay. “A lot of times when we would go, we would walk on the beach only about 10 minutes and that was it out of a four-day trip but it was so worth it. We bounced ideas off of each other, helped each other through the dissertation process.”
The friends said they were able to support and help one another, and were thoughtful to the sacrifices they each were making in order to complete their doctoral program.
“We were really serious about this thing. It was never a vacation for us by any stretch of the imagination; we never advertised it that way,” said Clay. “It was hard work. We held each other accountable.”
At the close of each weekend, they communicated to each other the goals they had for what they would accomplish in the following eight weeks before meeting again. It was this sort of accountability on which they each thrived.
“We had tasks set out that we were going to complete before we met again and we had almost daily checkpoints,” said Clay. “When you have another person investing time in you, it’s not fair not to do it. You commit to doing it.”
“During that time, Chenita had a crisis in her family, I lost my dad and my mom went through chemo, but we just kept showing up and we kept motivating each other to finish,” said Fields.
After they each defended their dissertations last summer, there were plans for one final trip to the beach: this time, to Orange Beach, Alabama, to participate in commencement.
Being at commencement made everything come full circle; it was the most awesome thing,” said Clay. “If one of us had not made it, we would have waited for each other. We were going to walk together.”
“She will forever be my friend. I included her in the acknowledgements of my dissertation,” said Fields. “You meet people for a reason and sometimes for a season, but I think the season is still there. We needed each other and we were both willing to work—we were likeminded in that.”
Two women were brought together by their drive to complete their DBA program but who refused to go it alone, provided each other support and encouragement along the shores of the Georgia Coast every eight weeks when they showed up for their “dissertation boot camp” weekends and each other. They each are now proud to be called “doctor,” but are more touched by the friendship that was forged in the process.