When Dr. Shannon McCullough graduated with her doctoral degree in higher education and student affairs in 2016, she made history as one of eight women of color to receive a Ph.D. from the School of Education that year. Dubbed the "Great Eight," the group represented the largest group of African-American women to ever receive doctorates from the same school at the same time, affirming their accomplishment and cementing their legacy. To commemorate their graduation, the women created the Great Eight Scholarship to support other graduate students — especially black women — seeking to pursue degrees in the School of Education at IUPUI.
For McCullough, receiving her doctoral degree was a remarkable and humbling distinction that was years in the making. As an undergraduate psychology student in the IUPUI School of Science, McCullough got involved with a new program at the Bepko Learning Center called Structured Learning Assistance. In 2001, she became one of the program's first psychology peer mentors. Through this experience, she discovered a love and talent for mentoring that propelled her academic and professional career.
"That program became the subject of my doctoral research, so that's a big point of pride for me," said McCullough.
After receiving her undergraduate degree from the School of Science, McCullough returned to the Bepko Learning Center and brought her passion for mentoring, first as coordinator of science mentor initiatives, then as assistant director of academic support services, and finally as the center's associate director until 2013. Mentorship remained a core focus in each of these positions, which encompassed course instruction, curriculum development and assessment, student recruitment, and cross-departmental collaboration and planning.