Tina Pierce, Ph.D, Class of 2000

Tina D. Pierce is a graduate of The Ohio State University, earning a Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science with a Graduate Interdisciplinary Specialization in College and University Teaching; a Master of Arts in Political Science; a Bachelor of Arts in Social and Behavioral Sciences with Distinction in Political Science; and a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities with Distinction in African American and African Studies. Dr. Pierce and her husband have four children.

She participated in the Denman Undergraduate Research Forum as a student in 2000 (Social and Behavioral Sciences) and 2001 (Humanities). In 2010, she participated as a returning Denman Alumni.

An experienced educator and interdisciplinary scholar, Dr. Pierce served as the Assistant Director of The Ohio State University (OSU) Young Scholars Program. She taught at Denison University in the Center for Black Studies, Department of Political Science, and Department of Women’s Studies. Her professional background includes working in the nonprofit and private sectors to build partnerships to promote community engagement. Passionate about community service, Dr. Pierce is a member of the Columbus City Schools Partnership Planning Committee, Columbus City Schools Board of Education Policy Committee, and the Kids Voting Central Ohio Advisory Board. 


How did you get involved in undergraduate research when you were at OSU? What research were you involved in?

My journey with undergraduate research began during the summer of 1999 as a participant in the Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP) at The Ohio State University (OSU). My research documented the history of student protests at OSU from April 1968 to September 1970. As an undergrad, I continued to gain research experience through a number of programs: STARS, College of Humanities Undergraduate Research Colloquium; the National Conference on Undergraduate Research; and SROP at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Each of these programs provided me with an opportunity to develop research projects aligned with my majors under the mentorship of a faculty sponsor.

What are you doing now? What do you like about your current profession?

I am the CEO and Founder of WORTH (Working Through Obstacles Reaching True Heights), an education consulting company that believes that education, empathy, and human capital are the cornerstones for life success and community engagement. We act on this belief by creating and delivering customized workshops and programs to facilitate learning on cultural competency, leadership development, civic education, and community engagement. I am also the Executive Director and Founder of the WORTH Foundation (Working Through Obstacles Reaching True Heights Foundation), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that seeks to cultivate leadership and increase civic and community engagement to reduce social injustices and advance human achievement by providing civic education, leadership development, and community service programming. I’m also an Instructor in the John Glenn College of Public Affairs. In these roles, I have the opportunity to share research and information with communities that empowers them to create positive transformative change.

What are your future career plans? How did your OSU undergrad research experiences help shape your current career and future plans?

I’m currently a candidate for the Columbus City Schools Board of Education. I am running because I believe every child in the Columbus City School District deserves a high-quality education that builds 21st century skills and sets our children up for success as they graduate into a global economy. My undergrad research experiences instilled the importance of research in daily life and human advancement. Research helps us understand our complex world. Research helps us build knowledge and facilitate learning. Everyday I have the honor of using research to strengthen and connect communities.

Do you think undergraduate research is beneficial? If so, what have been some of the benefits for you?

Undergraduate research is extremely beneficial. My undergrad research experiences prepared me for my current career and future plan by: helping me explore career paths; enhancing my intellectual skills; building my transferable skills; and expanding my professional network. After earning my PhD., I taught at Denison University and had the great privilege of mentoring several students completing summer research and senior thesis projects. It was during that time that I came to truly appreciate and understand the benefit of one-on-one mentoring that is provided through undergraduate research opportunities.

What has been your best research experience to date and why?

To date, the best research experience that I have had was completing my dissertation under the guidance of my advisor Dr. William E. “Nick” Nelson Jr. While he served as my faculty for some undergraduate research opportunities, it was during my dissertation experience that he made certain I understood and appreciated my responsibility as an interdisciplinary scholar, teacher, and community servant. His legacy and mentorship guides me as I develop new research projects and as I share research with individuals and communities.

Words of Wisdom:

If you are just getting started with research I would encourage you to trust the process. Research is a journey. At times you may doubt if your research paper is perfect. Know that no one and nothing is perfect –  just write making your best efforts to use correct citations and proper grammar. You may question if your methodology and data meet the highest standards. Becoming a member of a learning community is one of the benefits of research. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your faculty mentors for constructive criticism. They are there to help.


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