Using Education to Fight Misrepresentation

By Thomas Switzgable

In high school, McAllister Collins, CPS’22 of Chicago, watched his favorite movie for the first time, Forrest Gump. This iconic film follows the titular character as he navigates through life in the Deep South, unknowingly being the catalyst for some of the most important moments in American history during the 20th century. Since that moment, Collins used the film as a basis for his life’s philosophy. “I always desired to pursue opportunities that interest me, do them to the best of my ability, then move once I felt that I had maximized the vertical progress within that particular entity.”

However, in the midst of working a “very demanding and extremely stressful” sports management career, Collins decided to enlist in the United States Army after noticing he was neglecting his passion for international travel. As a result, Collins enlisted in the United States Army where he achieved the rank of Field Artillery Officer, where his duties included destroying or suppressing enemies by cannon, rocket, and missile fire, and helping integrate all lethal and nonlethal fire support assets into combined arms operations.

Unfortunately, injuries in his military career proved to be a deterrent in more ways than one, forcing him to medically retire in 2018 after eight years in the service. With active duty suddenly in his rearview mirror, Collins decided to enroll in Northeastern University’s doctor of education program, placing a concentration on organizational leadership studies. “I became obsessed with looking into [different] occurrences and was able to link such cultural misinterpretations to school discipline disparities, suspension, expulsion, and high school dropout rates, and the school-to-prison pipeline. The research I conducted was sobering to say the very least, but is one of the very best academic endeavors that I have ever completed.”

Taking advantage of Northeastern’s hybrid education and global presence, Collins learned about the benefits of this program through representatives from our Charlotte campus, splitting time between there, online, and Boston. The residencies in Boston proved to be impactful to his studies, stating that “[they] afforded us the opportunity to speak with program faculty and discuss our research interests in an attempt to vet those who would potentially become our future dissertation chairs.”

After completing his dissertation, Collins placed his energy towards helping those who have served through the Veteran’s Restorative Justice Project—a vessel that helps veterans that have been involved with the criminal justice system reintegrate back into society. Combining the community-transforming skillsets he developed at Northeastern with the new ones he will learn as he pursues his MBA at the University of Chicago, Collins is ready to leave a positive influence on veterans and the world alike. “My involvement is making an impact by spreading the word of the work that the VRJP is doing and showing veterans that although all of our service obligations may be complete, we still look out for one another just as we would have on the battlefield.”

Learn more about Northeastern University’s doctor of education program here.

McAllister Collins

“My education at Northeastern, specifically my qualitative doctoral research, taught me that everyone has a story and deserves to be heard.”

McAllister Collins, CPS’22