Obtaining His Ph.D. Was a Lifetime Dream for Kerron Joseph
Following his lifelong dream of obtaining a Ph.D., Kerron Joseph will achieve that goal this month when he receives his Ph.D. in Finance from the UTSA Carlos Alvarez College of Business.
Growing up in the Caribbean, he came to the United States to attend college. After receiving his undergraduate and graduate degrees in mathematics from Stephen F. Austin, he taught high school for a few years then worked in higher education administration. While teaching as an adjunct at Stephen F. Austin, he realized that while he loved mathematics he wanted to do something a little more applied, and he applied to UTSA’s doctoral program.
“After meeting with the faculty, I thought UTSA’s program would challenge me, and I would have the opportunity to grow as a scholar, a researcher, a student and overall as a person,” said Joseph. “I’ve grown so much in the past five years.”
Joseph has two main streams of research that he focused on throughout the program: corporate finance at the intersection of investment, and banking with a corporate finance outlook. Working with finance Professor Palani-Rajan Kadapakkam, they identified potential mispricing of dividends in mergers and acquisition transactions. He was also mentored by finance Professor John Wald, where they researched corporate banking with a focus on monetary policy and macroeconomic policy.
“I’ve always had an interest in policy,” said Joseph. “As I went through this program I was exposed to potential applications of studying policy in the field of finance. It is a rich field. And it requires quite a bit of commitment to lifelong learning because you always have to stay abreast of how things are changing. It is valuable to retain a broad curiosity especially as a young researcher.”
Joseph also had the opportunity to enhance his teaching skills as part of the program. As part of a teaching seminar led by Rick Utecht, associate professor of marketing, he learned the differences between teaching at the high school level and within higher education.
“Dr. Utecht’s class was very informative because he brought his wealth of experience and knowledge to bear and made us think about the theory of what good higher education instruction looks like and contrasted that with the realities and how to deal with difficult situations,” said Joseph. “He gave us an idea of what to expect in our lives as an academician. He was more than a teacher. He was a really good mentor.”
Completing his doctoral studies during the pandemic presented its own set of challenges. While staying at home working on his research wasn’t new, he had to adjust to teaching remotely and missed the interaction he previously had with his colleagues and the faculty. Joseph shared that it takes a village to raise a Ph.D. student.
“I didn’t realize how valuable that interaction was to my motivation to keep pushing forward,” he said. “It wasn’t like we learned by osmosis, but we certainly gained some degree of motivation from visiting in the office and discussing our papers or the challenges we were facing. It was an unexpected reality check about the value of your cohort.”
While at UTSA, Joseph was a participant in the Ph.D. Project, an organization whose goal is to increase the number of minorities in academia. He noted that throughout his academic career, he only had one black male faculty member. “It is important that I can make an impact in a field where minorities are underrepresented,” said Joseph. “Being able to accomplish this and go on to mentor others is important to me.
“This is the fulfillment of a goal that I set for myself a long time ago,” he said. “Also, my family made lots of sacrifices for me. This demonstrates that their hard work has paid off. As a new parent, I can appreciate the sacrifices that they’ve made. Oftentimes, when you plan for something decades in advance, it is difficult to attain. That is why it is so valuable for me to be able to accomplish this for myself.”
Next fall Joseph will begin his career in academia as an assistant professor of finance at Western Kentucky University. While he will miss his time in Texas, he is looking forward to not only southern hospitality, but being part of a university that is moving in a great direction.
Reflecting on his UTSA tenure Joseph shared, “One of the most valuable lessons that I learned was about myself and the ability to persevere when you have no idea what you are doing. That is in many regards what research is. You are charting the course; you are uncovering the truth and taking a look at something that no one has done before.”