Are you a student affairs practitioner considering a doctorate? How do you know if this is the right step for your career path? Is a doctorate necessary for upward mobility in student affairs? What are the pros and cons of pursuing a doctorate? What are the pros and cons of pursuing a student affairs career without a doctorate?

On this episode of Student Affairs Live, guest host Keith Edwards speaks with current doctorate student – Fernando Rodriguez, practitioner with a doctorate – Ed Cabellon, faculty member and former student affairs practitioner – OiYan Poon, and senior student affairs officer without a doctorate – Daren Mooko. Guests will discuss their varied perspectives to help student affairs practitioners think deeper about whether pursuing a doctorate is right for them or not, rather than just feeling like it is something everyone should do.


Episode Host

Keith Edwards

Keith Edwards

Over the past 18 years Keith (he/him/his) has spoken and consulted at more than 200 colleges and universities, presented more than 200 programs at national conferences, and written more than 20 articles or book chapters on curricular approaches, sexual violence prevention, men’s identity, social justice education, and leadership. His research, writing, and speaking have received national awards and recognition including ACPA Dissertation of the Year and ACPA Diamond Honoree. His TEDx Talk on Ending Rape has been viewed around the world. Keith is also a certified executive and leadership coach for individuals who are looking to unleash their fullest potential. Keith was the Director of Campus Life at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN from 2007 – 2015 where he provided leadership for the areas of residential life, student activities, conduct, and orientation. He was an affiliate faculty member in the Leadership in Student Affairs program at the University of St. Thomas, where he taught graduate courses on diversity and social justice in higher education for 8 years.


Fernando Rodriguez

Originally from the Border City of El Paso, Texas, my education and career paths have given me the opportunity to work alongside, and learn with, students attending a broad range of institutions including large, small, public, private, and urban/rural colleges and universities. I’m a fiercely devoted educator and student affairs professional who offers a wide range of experience working with diverse student populations in multiple roles including academic support, multicultural education and programming, LGBT student services, conflict resolution, residential life, and classroom instruction. As a doctoral candidate at the University of Minnesota my research centers on examining how Mexican and Mexican American gay men, who were born along the U.S./Mexico Border, construct masculinity, and how these constructs impact their college experience.


Dr. Ed Cabellon

Edmund T. Cabellon, Ed.D., is a collaborative higher education leader with administrative roles in Student Affairs, Enrollment, and Marketing areas. With over twenty years of progressive experience, he currently works at Bridgewater State University (BSU) as director of administration for the division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management leading strategic planning, marketing, budget, fundraising, and human resources areas. He is also an adjunct faculty member in the BSU Ricciardi College of Business, teaching both “Strategic Management” and “Principles of Marketing.” In the summer months, he teaches “Curriculum, Identity, & Digital Technology” in Caldwell University’s online Higher Education Administration masters program. He earned his bachelors degree in Communication from Stonehill College, masters degree in Educational Leadership from Central Connecticut State University, and his doctorate in Educational Leadership from Johnson and Wales University.


OiYan Poon, Ph.D.

Dr. OiYan Poon is an Assistant Professor of Higher Education Leadership in the School of Education at Colorado State University. Prior to joining the faculty at Colorado State University, Dr. Poon was an assistant professor of Higher Education at Loyola University Chicago. After earning her Bachelor’s degree at Boston College and M.Ed. in College Student Affairs Administration at the University of Georgia, OiYan worked in multicultural student affairs, as the first Asian Pacific American Student Affairs director at George Mason University and the first Student Affairs Officer in Asian American Studies at UC Davis.

Throughout her career, Dr. Poon has developed extensive experience in higher education policy analysis and advocacy. She was a key advocate for the establishment of the federal AANAPISI (Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution) Minority Serving Institution designation. As she was completing her Ph.D. in Race & Ethnic Studies in Education with a certificate in Asian American Studies from UCLA, she was also elected President of the University of California Student Association (UCSA), which represented the interests of all UC students in the statewide system’s governance process.

Dr. Poon aims to ensure applicability to student affairs practice and higher education policy, by collaborating with student affairs professionals in research. Her scholarship focuses on the racial politics of college access, affirmative action, and Asian Americans. Dr. Poon was the 2016 recipient of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) Council on Ethnic Participation Mildred B. Garcia Junior Exemplary Scholarship Award and a 2014 recipient of the ACPA Emerging Scholar Award. She just finished co-editing an anthology entitled Difficult Subjects: Insights and Strategies for Teaching about Race, Sexuality and Gender, which is being published by Stylus in 2018.


Daren R. Mooko

Daren currently serves as Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. Prior to Whitman, Daren was at Pomona College for 20 years serving in such capacities as Director of the Asian American Resource Center, Associate Dean of Students, and most recently as Associate Dean and Title IX Coordinator. He earned his Masters degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration from the University of Vermont and his BA in English from San Diego State University.