Cove alum overcomes health setbacks to earn second doctorate degree
By LYNETTE SOWELL
For many pursuing a career in academia, earning that elusive doctorate degree only happens once.
But for a Copperas Cove alum, it has happened twice, with the second PhD coming after he nearly died from a ruptured aneurysm, then having to undergo multiple rounds of physical therapy after suffering a stroke during surgery.
Maurice Dawson, a member of the Copperas Cove High School class of 2001, attended CCISD while his father served as a lieutenant colonel at Fort Hood. During his time in Copperas Cove, Dawson was involved in both the Business Computer Club and FCCLA.
After graduation, Dawson went on to pursue his studies in computer science and also served as a senior systems analyst for five years for the U.S. Army Reserves. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in applied technology in 2004 from Athens State University, followed by master’s degrees from Colorado Technical University, an MS in information systems security and an MBA in 2006 and 2010, respectively.
He received his first doctorate in 2009, in computer science, also from Colorado Technical University.
However, Dawson’s second doctorate almost didn’t come to pass, when in April 2015 a brain aneurysm ruptured while he was working late in his office one night.
While undergoing an angiography, he suffered a stroke and was in an induced coma in the ICU at for four days, followed by another week on the neurological floor.
During that time, Dawson also ended up with a partial lung collapse and pneumonia.
“On the 6th of May, I was placed in inpatient rehabilitation. On 17 May 2015, I was released from inpatient rehabilitation. Upon release, I spent approximately three weeks in outpatient rehabilitation services and was ordered to continue with proper nutritional diet and exercise,” Dawson said.
He found himself out of work for months, as he was ordered by doctors not to start any work prior to fall 2015.
Then, in November 2015, he underwent an angiography to fix the coil as it expanded beyond the size of the previous cerebral aneurysm rupture. The four-hour surgery led to symptoms of a mild stroke.
Through it all, Dawson said he didn’t feel alone.
“Family, close friends, and the many supportive and loving colleagues at the University of Missouri - Saint Louis (UMSL) were by my side during my recovery. Enough gratitude and words cannot be expressed, as many faculty members at UMSL and each member of the Information Systems Department visited me to include delivering food daily to my family as I hospitalized for approximately a month. Or the students who sent flowers or fresh fruit and vegetables once I was released. Not enough words can be expressed for the kindness and the blessings received during this period.”
After his release from inpatient rehabilitation, Dawson decided to forge ahead with pursuing his Doctor of Philosophy by Prior Output at London Metropolitan University.
He attributes the idea to a former colleague, Chris Enyinda, Ph.D., at Alabama A&M University, who suggested it years earlier. Another professor, Dr. David King, told Dawson about an alternate route offered in Europe which involved having a body of work and then creating a Ph.D. thesis/dissertation that tied it all together.
“After these discussions, I felt that this was perhaps the time to make this farfetched dream a reality. I spent a considerable amount of time searching for the appropriate Ph.D. thesis/dissertation adviser, and I found an established researcher to guide me,” Dawson said.
Hassan Kazemian, Ph.D., FBCS, FIET, SMIEEE, CEng, MINNS, who has a Ph.D. in Applications of Artificial Intelligence to Robotics, MSc Computer Control Systems Engineering, and a BSc Engineering brought the idea to life for him
“The experience that I had with Hassan was nothing short of amazing. His guidance and in-depth understanding of the process allowed me to navigate this complicated process.”
Then, in February 2017, while at London Metropolitan University, Dawson defended his thesis, “Hyper-connectivity: intricacies of national and international cyber securities.”
“The outcome was a pass with minor revisions,” said Dawson. “The revisions were provided that following August and approved by external committee members.”
Dawson looked back all the way to his days in Copperas Cove and said that the late Allen Yanta, who was his AP Psychology and Sociology teacher as well as driving instructor, had a great impact on him.
“I was too young and foolish to realize the power of his advice, but his words were right about the future. I think back to my two years at Cove and how many interactions I had with him,” Dawson said. “He will truly be missed but his words at an older age resonate and I wish I were half this wise now when younger, so I could have an in-depth conversation with this man.”
Dawson is presently an assistant professor of Information Systems - Cyber Security at the College of Business Administration at University of Missouri-St. Louis. with affiliation to the Cybersecurity and Information Technology Innovation Lab, as well as a visiting professor at the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico and at the University of Nairobi, and is a senior research fellow at the American Leadership & Policy Foundation.
Dawson is the recipient of two Fulbright Specialist Grants, one to Russia in 2014, at South Ural State University, the other to Bangladesh in 2016 at the University of Rajshahi. He also served as visiting scholar with the University of The Gambia through the International Studies and Programs Fellowship awarded in 2014.