Find out how Rachel Gandy made a difference in public service + now with Teach for America Alabama


Rachel Gandy, a student in UNA's EDBA program, standing in front of a wall in downtown Birmingham
Rachel Gandy in downtown Birmingham. (Ben Johnson / Bham Now)

After getting her start in government, Rachel Gandy works with Teach for America to improve access to quality education for everyone. But one weekend a month, she heads up to the University of North Alabama (UNA) in Florence to meet with the other 14 members of her Executive Doctor of Business Administration (EDBA) cohort. Find out what made her choose UNA’s EDBA program and why she loves it. 

Meet Rachel Gandy, EDBA Candidate

Rachel Gandy with family (l) and colleagues from Teach for America (r). (Rachel Gandy)

Born into a family of educators in Tuskegee, Alabama, Rachel Gandy went to the University of North Alabama on a full scholarship for her undergraduate degree. Here are just a few of her impressive accomplishments since that time: 

  • Involved in Student Government Association, homecoming court and pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. at UNA.
  • Worked with Governor Robert Bentley as well as the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs. 
  • Worked in fundraising with Congresswoman Terri Sewell—technically her sorority sister—for more than 3.5 years. 
  • Got her Master’s degree from Houston Baptist University. 
  • Currently works with Teach for America as Director of Individual Giving for the State of Alabama—she’s passionate about creating equity among all students.

As soon as Gandy finished her Master’s degree, she said “something urged me to apply for my doctorate at UNA in the Executive Doctor of Business Administration Program.”

What is UNA’s EDBA program?

I interviewed Gandy to find out about her experience with UNA’s EDBA program. Here are some of the basic program details

  • The Executive Doctor of Business Administration is a three-year, low-residency program. 
  • It’s designed for experienced leaders who are seeking to advance within an organization or transition into a career in consulting or higher education.
  • It requires an applied dissertation, which candidates can leverage to solve existing organizational problems. 
  • The program prepares candidates to implement research projects that impact organizational strategic decisions in an efficient and innovative manner. 

Here’s what Gandy had to say about her experience. 

What attracted you to UNA’s EDBA program? 

woman and sorority sisters at UNA
Rachel Gandy with Kappa Alpha sisters at UNA. (Rachel Gandy)

“UNA is my alma mater. I love it and appreciate that teachers are available for that one-on-one support that makes such a difference. 

Some of the professors in the EDBA program were my teachers in undergrad. I know they really do care, and they go out of their way to make sure that we’re going to be alright.

The program tries to create a community with a cohort feeling. We’re in class all day for three days one weekend a month, but it doesn’t feel like that because we’re learning about real-life things and talking about topics that we can take right back to our workplaces.”

What are your favorite things about UNA’s EDBA program? 

UNA's EDBA program cohort
UNA EDBA cohort. (Rachel Gandy)

“My cohort is only 15 people—we’ve had four or five weekends together, and these people are like my siblings and my aunts, we are so close. 

What I love the absolute most about my cohort is the dinners we have after class when we get to socialize. Whether we’re talking about how COVID affects the workplace or our personal lives, it makes the experience that much better.”

What’s the most unexpected thing about UNA’s EDBA program? 

“I actually enjoy doing my homework—all the research we do and the project management skills we’re learning are applicable to what we’re dealing with in our workplaces now. 

I appreciate that it’s not just random discussion questions—we’re learning project management tips and tricks and reading books that help challenge what we’re thinking.”

What would you say to somebody who’s thinking about doing UNA’s EDBA program? 

  • Rachel Gandy and her grandmother
  • woman with her grandparetns

Rachel Gandy with her grandparents. (Rachel Gandy)

“My grandmas used to tell me if you believe it, then you can achieve it. So go for it. Don’t doubt yourself—apply yourself, commit yourself to doing it and remind yourself why you’re doing it. You can get it done—it’s not gonna be easy, you’re gonna have to work for it, but you can do it.”

Want more info on UNA’s EDBA program? Request info here or check them out onFacebook,Instagram andLinkedin to learn more about the program and scholarship opportunities that are available for up to $25,000!  

Sponsored by:

Sharron Swain
Sharron Swain

Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference

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