Making a difference in the lives of students, especially at the post-secondary level, is a major motivation for Carmelitia Coleman, Transact Director of Global Services for project management and operations. She says, “I connect with the Transact mission because education is inherent in my upbringing. My family is committed to two fields: education and law enforcement.” Both are fields that make far-reaching impacts on their communities. The choice to make education a profession started with positions that enabled her to apply her BA and MA degrees (from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, respectively), to roles in educational consulting and in college administration as bursar.
Since starting with Transact in 2010, Dr. Coleman has focused on advancing the Transact information technology systems that enable colleges and universities to deliver positive campus experiences for their students. She helped to establish a project management framework for a nationwide electronic financial aid disbursement program that earned the company a 2011 Best Government-Funded Prepaid Programs Award and she also led the first Transact international client implementation in Australia.
When the opportunity to build on her education credentials arose, she continued her family tradition. In 2015, she started work on an exceptional personal project: a doctorate in education from Walden University. Applying the project and time management skills she brings to her team at Transact – and with the encouragement of colleagues and coworkers – she was able to manage her large project team and incorporate two and half years of doctoral coursework into a busy life. Then followed the challenge of proposing, researching, and writing an academic dissertation to finish the degree.
It was her work as a consultant in the educational industry and as a university bursar that inspired her proposed thesis, “Financial Aid Knowledge and Resources Among First-Generation College Students.” With her dissertation committee on board, and with her time and organization skills fully engaged, she got to work. Dr. Coleman explored one of the most daunting among the many barriers to college success for first generation students. Financial aid systems are complicated and bewildering even for students who have the support of experienced counselors and family members to assist in identifying, choosing, and applying to the funding sources that are available. The research revealed that these students, who make up a new category of diversity and an opportunity for colleges that seek to expand equity and inclusion, are handicapped by a lack of financial proficiency from the start of their college experience. They are particularly disadvantaged by this profound knowledge gap as they work to navigate an arcane financial aid system.
By 2021, her research was finished. Her project study revealed that students from backgrounds that do not benefit from inclusion in the mainstream financial system face a deep-rooted obstacle for advancement, both economic and educational. Her conclusions suggested that financial literacy programs early in secondary school curriculums could better prepare students for successful outcomes and that universities that recognize these challenges and offer support programs could improve enrollment, retention, and graduation rates. Dr. Coleman’s dissertation findings track closely to Transact’s goal to provide tools to make the on-campus college experience easier for the diverse student group that many campuses serve; tools that include International Payments and Tuition Payment Plans that offer product features that allow payments via 529 savings plans through Transact integration. It is certain to inform her work on future Transact product components.
Dr. Coleman’s dissertation was published in January 2022, marking the completion of her EdD degree from Walden University. We at Transact are impressed and pleased to congratulate Dr. Carmelitia Coleman on this outstanding achievement, and we’re very proud to say, “we have a doctor in the house.”