Maj. Juanita Catchings, deputy director of the First Army Division East Surgeon's Office, proudly holds the Doctor of Management degree she recently earned from the University of Phoenix. Catchings completed her coursework for her doctorate in 2012 " 43 months after she began. (U.S. Army photo by Master Sgt. Gary Younger, First Army Division East Public Affairs)

Soldier's doctorate combines Army profession, mentorship
By Master Sgt. Gary Younger, First Army Division East Public Affairs

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. -- A First Army Division East officer has earned a new title: Doctor.
Maj. Juanita Catchings, deputy director of the First Army Division East Surgeon's Office, received her Doctor of Management degree recently from the University of Phoenix. She now has the right to add the initials "DM" to her signature.

"When I received the diploma in the mail, I knew it was real," said Catchings. She completed her coursework in 2012 -- 43 months after she started. Her dissertation was accepted this past Spring, making her eligible for graduation. She expects her paper -- "Forward, March: A Qualitative Phenomenological Study for Developing Army Officers Through a Formal Mentorship Program" -- to be published in the near future.

During her research, Catchings discovered that, compared to other services like the Air Force and Navy, the Amy is behind in creating a formal mentoring program for officers. While the Army Personnel Office has some mentoring suggestions on its Web site, her paper lays out the case for the creation of a formalized program.

"Many junior officers don't know how to form mentor/mentee relationships," Catchings explained. "Sometimes they are uncomfortable going to a supervisor for mentoring. They kind of learn as they go through their career and sort of figure things out by the time they are captains or majors."

Her boss, Lt. Col. Andy Doyle, said he is proud not only of her but also of what her degree brings to the Division East Surgeon's Office.

"I am extremely proud." said Doyle. "One of the primary requirements of our section is to mentor and develop junior officers and NCO's throughout the command. To accomplish our missions, we have to coach and lead others to succeed. To have an officer who is passionate, trained, and experienced in leadership is invaluable."

Catchings was mentored early in her career, which began in 1990 as an enlisted Sailor. She only had a high school diploma at the time, but a senior Sailor encouraged her to take advantage of educational opportunities.

"She told me I was going to school and was not become a barracks rat," Catchings said.
Because of the encouragement, she earned an associate's degree in general studies. Since then, Catchings earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Resources Management and a Master of Science in Public Administration on the way to her doctorate.

According to Army demographics, in fiscal year 11, 39% of commissioned officers and less than 1% enlisted Soldiers held a master's degree or higher.

Doyle congratulated her on accomplishing something so few Soldiers achieve.

"This is an amazing accomplishment for the Army," Doyle emphasized. "The cornerstone of the Army profession rests on leadership, and requires leaders with expertise in the science and the practice of leadership. Maj. Catchings is at the vanguard in this effort."

Catchings switched over to the Army in 2000 and was commissioned as a Medical Services Corps officer. She joined the Active Guard and Reserve program in 2003. It was during assignments as a medical recruiter in San Diego and later at Human Resources Command at Fort Knox that she mentored others herself.

"I heard lots of complaints about commands not supporting mentoring programs, so I did the best I could to help people," she said.

Catchings plans to retire in May 2014 with 20 years active duty out of 24 years in service.
"Ultimately I want to give back," she said. "People want to look at things beyond equipping and training Soldiers; they want to take the time to hone interpersonal skills."

First Army Division East mobilizes, trains, validates and deploys Reserve Component units to support overseas military operations. Along with Reserve component units, the division's trainer/mentors prepare and deploy sailors and airmen, along with selected members of the interagency and intergovernmental departments, to provide trained and ready forces across a full-spectrum of operations to regional combatant commanders worldwide.

Page last updated Tue August 20th, 2013 at 10:00