UT’s Sharon Couch becomes first Black woman with PhD in sport psychology | Campus News

Greg Stevens

Sharon Sofa, a senior discovering expert and organization lover at UT, been given her PhD in sport psychology in March, starting to be the 1st Black woman to ever get the degree.

Couch, a two-time Olympic athlete who is at first from a small city in Virginia, has invested her lifetime operating towards her educational dreams and leaving a legacy.

Her journey commenced when she graduated from higher college, she was rated amount a single in observe and field in the nation. She ongoing to take part in the sport at the College of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, when she pursued a diploma in speech communications.

She is now recognised as a single of the most adorned feminine college student athletes to go to the college and has gained the Tarheel Trailblazer Award.

Immediately after Couch graduated from the UNC, she commenced to contend skillfully in keep track of and area close to the earth for 11 yrs. She specialised in the very long jump and dash hurdles as she produced her way on to 5 World Championships teams and represented the United States at the 1992 and 2000 Summer time Olympics.

In her publish-aggressive decades, Couch labored for quite a few main providers, such as Kraft Basic Foodstuff, Franklin Covey, Quest Communications and Masai Barefoot Know-how.

However, Sofa wanted to make her experiences as an Olympic athlete depend and operate in direction of a greater purpose. She commenced her occupation at the University of Tennessee in 2010. She labored as the assistant observe and industry mentor for the Keep track of Crew for women’s sprints and hurdles. Through her time as an assistant mentor, she helped to create SEC Champions and All-Individuals for the Lady Vols dash and hurdle crew.







Sharon Sofa, two-time Olympian the initial Black lady to ever generate a PhD in activity psychology, speaks at TEDxUTK on Feb. 13, 2020.




In 2014, Couch began to even further her education as she began a graduate application in sport psychology. Though attending UT as a student, she labored as a graduate teaching assistant for the Pupil Achievement Middle. She then graduated in 2016 with her Master’s of Science diploma.

Immediately after accomplishing this, Sofa started to get the job done as an tutorial advisor for the University of Instruction Human Well being and Sciences. She specialized in functioning with Kinesiology and Sports activities Management pupils.

Nonetheless, she required to realize additional and continue on to develop her education and learning. Couch started to pursue a PhD in sport psychology. Her investigation as a pupil was cultural activity psychology and supporting folks of colour as they do the job to advocacy, social justice and activism in their overall performance locations.

When Couch was pursuing her PhD and functioning complete-time for the university, she was promoted to Scholar Life and Variety and Inclusion coordinator for the Herbert University of Agriculture. She served each individual college student that attended Herbert, different experienced team and school across the campus. Moreover, she served as a Chairperson for the Chancellor’s Commission for Blacks at UT.

Past month, Sofa grew to become the initial Black girl to obtain a PhD in activity psychology following ending the degree at UT. She states that her journey is nowhere close to above and that she will keep on to function on leaving her legacy.

When requested what the past 12 decades at UT meant to her, Couch spelled out her connection and appreciation for the university.

“The outcomes of what I have been capable to execute right here as a coach, workers individual and now as a pupil with the support of the college, I can say devoid of any reservation that Tennessee has been my pathway to the life that I could have only dreamed about,” Sofa mentioned. “Tennessee is my coronary heart, it aided me to get to one particular of my finish strains, I consider I nevertheless have a good deal additional to give and a ton extra to go, I’m grateful, I’m thankful, and I am a Lady Vol for lifestyle.”

Throughout her tale, Couch has faced several established-backs and obstacles as she labored to realize her dreams. She experienced to operate towards her objectives and disregard her conditions, cases and evaluating herself to the men and women all around her.

Incredibly early on in existence, Sofa stated that she knew she required to be the greatest. She felt as if it was her route to turning out to be who she needed to be as a mother, friend and daughter. Couch realized she was heading to obtain the fantastic daily life she desired and be capable to consider care of herself.

She was the initially of her loved ones to go to university and to go out of point out from her significant faculty. She realized she was just “one of many” but she centered on her abilities, maximizing her possible and receiving the greatest out of her activities.

By carrying out this, she has not only realized her educational targets, she has also impressed other people. Elijah Ramsey, a senior promoting intern for UT, talked about what Couch’s story intended to him.

“By her staying a trailblazer for all of all those that have now experienced this door opened for them,” Ramsey explained. “Her story implies a ton, especially to anybody who is a element of a marginalized minority team. I cannot do justice to the troubles she has confronted and defeat, but I rejoice her for getting authentically herself and embracing her id.”

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