Meet the educator, reservist and soon-to-be triple alumna redefining ‘family’

Jamie Covey in uniform on TWU's Denton campus

Now that doctoral student and U.S. Navy Senior Chief Jamie Covey, M.Ed., has successfully defended her dissertation, she’s ready to graduate in May. She will be receiving her third degree from TWU, a Ph.D. in sociology, which is preceded by a bachelor’s in history and master’s in educational leadership. 

Over the last two decades, Covey has earned her degrees while serving concurrently as the lead American Sign Language teacher at Denton High School and a Navy reservist.

Her dissertation topic, the effects of a reservist's deployment on their support system, draws from her own experience in the military.

“Sept. 11 occurred around the time I was graduating with my bachelor’s and transitioning into my teaching position,” Covey said. “I could not shake the conviction that I needed to serve in the military. So, the summer between my first and second year of teaching, I went to boot camp.”

She was deployed twice for year-long stints, the first in 2008 to Iraq and again in 2017 to Africa. Upon receiving orders for her second deployment, she began to search for resources available to her family — a support network made up of parents, siblings, friends and colleagues — but struggled to find information that wasn’t solely focused on spouses and children. 

Jamie Covey in navy fatigues

Already enrolled in her doctoral program, she was inspired to begin researching the sociological effects of deployment for reservists with non-traditional support systems, including non-nuclear, extended and chosen families. 

Her dissertation, “An Auto/Ethnographic Exploration of the Effects of a Reservist's Deployment on the Support System: The Theory of Deployment Communication and Resilience for a Support System,” is designed to address the unique needs of this group.

“Little did I know at the time that the research has the ability to represent nearly half of current reservists and guardsmen,” she said. According to her research, there are approximately 801,000 reservists and guardsmen in the U.S. military, and approximately 400,000 report they are not married and have no children.

“Her work has the potential to have a tremendous impact on soldiers’ lives and reduce post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide rates,” said Jessica Gullion, Ph.D., associate dean of research for the College of Arts and Sciences and Covey’s dissertation chair. 

After graduation, Covey plans to write materials and develop programs and services for support members excluded by most current definitions of “family.” She hopes to provide a wealth of resources for friends, coworkers, colleagues and extended family members such as hers, improving the experiences of countless service members for years to come.

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Anna Ryan

Page last updated 3:27 PM, March 15, 2021