The Scholarship That Changed My Life

Nikki Doughty, MSW’14, learns to lead while improving urban education

Nikki Doughty, MSW’14, worked in politics and education in Atlanta and St. Louis for 10 years before she hit a ceiling.

“I had practical experience, but I needed further academic and professional training to achieve my goal to improve urban education,” she says. “After putting myself through undergraduate and graduate school earlier, I knew I couldn’t afford further education without financial support. A scholarship to the Brown School changed my life.”

Doughty pursued her master’s degree at Washington University while working in admissions and alumni relations at City Academy, an independent school in North St. Louis founded on the belief that every child should have access to a high-quality education. It provides full scholarship support to 100 percent of its students, and it is where Doughty continues to work today.

“When I began working on my master’s in social work, I was putting in 60 hours a week at City Academy and managing cases for 124 alumni,” Doughty says. “It was a challenging schedule. But what I learned in my two years at the Brown School has equipped me to achieve things I thought were beyond my reach. Everything I do now is on a leadership level.”

Recently, Doughty was promoted to director of external affairs at City Academy, with increased responsibilities and oversight for academic affairs, alumni relations, and community partnerships. She also will create and manage a practicum program for Brown students that will be based at the academy.

For her own practicum, Doughty helped develop plans for a new college preparatory school that will serve underrepresented girls in St. Louis. The Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls, a single-sex charter STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) school for grades 6 through 12, is scheduled to open in fall 2015. Washington University is the school’s institutional sponsor.

Hawthorn is affiliated with the Young Women’s Leadership Network, which supports five high-performing all-girls public schools in New York City and nine affiliate schools in Illinois, Texas, Maryland, and New York. The network was founded by Ann Rubenstein Tisch, AB ’76, a member of the Washington University Board of Trustees.

“Hawthorn will provide St. Louis with a strong and unique educational option,” says Doughty, who serves on Hawthorn’s board of directors. “Now more than ever, we must empower young women to be leaders not only in the classroom, but also within our community. Washington University has prepared me to help lead this effort.”

“What I learned in my two years
at the Brown School has equipped me to achieve things I thought were
beyond my reach.”

— Nikki Doughty, MSW'14, Director of External Affairs at City Academy