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Pictured is Sherlyn Harrison. Photo by Nadia Jones.

Photo by Nadia Jones '25

Meet Sherlyn Harrison '21

Job Title & Employer
Managing Director of Programs & Operations, Pittsburgh Scholar House
Leadership and Administration-Ed.D.
Pittsburgh, Pa.
High School
Schenley High School
Now Living In
Pittsburgh, Pa.
Hobbies & Interests
Board chair for Hill Dance Academy Theatre; board member for Trying Together; Black history and culture, visual arts, walking, swimming, paddle boarding and traveling

"Dr. Harrison is a phenomenal addition to the Pittsburgh Scholar House team. She is the perfect blend of lived experience, scholarly depth and professional acumen to elevate our two-generational model and engagement strategies to the next level. Her leadership is already having a profound impact on the Pittsburgh Scholar House community of parenting students."

Diamonte Walker '22

"My experience is that Point Park invests in hard-working, professional students who have busy lives with families and careers. At Point Park, you do not have to sacrifice your life and work to complete a degree because Point Park promotes academic excellence while focusing on student needs."

Sherlyn Harrison '21

Describe your career path and your current role at the Pittsburgh Scholar House.

I am a dedicated educator, leader and scholar with nearly 25 years of experience providing high-quality educational programming and mental health services to children and families. This quote by Ruben Chavez has become my personal and professional mantra: “Pay attention to the things that you are naturally drawn to. They often are connected to your path, passion and purpose in life.” My career path has been a beautiful tapestry of experiences weaving psychology and education in ways that allow me to positively contribute to the lives of children and families.

My passion for early childhood education was sparked at Carlow Hill College where I coordinated a drop-in childcare center for African American mothers pursuing a college education. The invaluable experience that I gained at Holy Family Institute allowed me to develop a toolkit for supporting children and adults facing multiple challenges. I have spent the last 13 years of my career working with our youngest learners at Pittsburgh Public Schools' early childhood education program.

In June, I transitioned to my new role as managing director of programs and operations at Pittsburgh Scholar House, and I am excited to join such an amazing team. We empower single parents who are pursuing higher education by eliminating barriers and offering them the support needed to successfully accomplish their dreams.

Centering race while elevating issues of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice are primary to the work that I have been passionate about for many years. An accomplishment that I am very proud of is the early head start program that I managed was awarded the 2023 Pennsylvania Early Childhood Equity Champion Gold Award for engaging in innovative professional development designed to enhance culturally responsive practices and cultivate learning environments where all children, particularly children of color and their families, feel a sense of belonging.

What’s it like working alongside fellow Ed.D. alumna Diamonte Walker, CEO of the Pittsburgh Scholar House?

It’s a pleasure to work alongside Dr. Walker. She is the architect of the Pittsburgh Scholar House’s Wayfinders Program. Every day, I am inspired by her vision to elevate single parents by building their capacity for educational and financial advancement. Dr. Walker believes in me and that means everything to me. My task is clear – grow and develop Pittsburgh Scholar House so that it has a significant and sustaining impact on parenting college students and their children. 

Why did you choose Point Park's Ed.D. in Leadership and Administration program?

My doctoral journey has been a long one, filled with twists and turns that started at another university and ended at Point Park. One of my Pittsburgh Public Schools colleagues was a member of Point Park's first Ed.D. cohort. When I told her about my doctoral journey, she recommended Point Park. She said I would be a great fit because Point Park's Ed.D. program understands the needs of working professionals, and she said they would probably accept some of my doctoral credits. Both turned out to be true, and in 2016 I was accepted into the Ed.D. program’s 2-year track. 

How did the Ed.D. program foster your professional growth?

Completing Point Park's Ed.D. program was life-changing. Not only had I accomplished a goal that I set for myself many years ago, but it also opened doors and allowed me to transition into spaces that were otherwise closed to me. Our textbook, "Total Leaders 2.0: Leading in the Age of Empowerment," by Charles J. Schwahn and William G. Spady, motivated me to dig deep, grapple with the pillars of leadership and determine which leadership style best characterizes who I am, my core values, my passion and purpose. I was clear about my research topic from the start. Each course allowed me to gather the literature and cultivate the questions that guided my research. My research interest in promoting positive racial identity development for young African American children in early childhood settings is a compelling topic deserving more attention and spotlight.

Why would you recommend Point Park to a prospective student?

My experience is that Point Park invests in hard-working, professional students who have busy lives with families and careers. I recommend Point Park to friends and colleagues with stories like mine. My advice is do not let your dreams slip away and forego finishing your degree. At Point Park, you do not have to sacrifice your life and work to complete a degree because Point Park promotes academic excellence while focusing on student needs.

Is there anything else you would like to add? 

"When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it." – Paulo Coelho

Learn more about the School of Education in the video below: 

Connect with Sherlyn Harrison '21

More About: graduate education, success story, alumni, faculty, education, School of Education, graduate programs, Downtown Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Ed.D. in leadership and administration