17:25 PM

Breaking barriers together: Siblings earn doctoral degrees from UHCL

Written by: Paisley Boston

In a rare feat, siblings Dipal Brahmbhatt-Parekh and Ravi Brahmbhatt have earned their doctoral degrees in higher education administration from University of Houston-Clear Lake (UHCL), together. The duo is among 2% of the United States adult population who hold a doctorate, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Dipal and Ravi, who grew up in India, have a strong bond due to their upbringing as a nuclear family. They started the journey together to pursue their dreams and had each other as accountability partners throughout the course. For Dipal, having her brother as a mentor was beneficial in dealing with imposter syndrome and keeping her grounded.

“My brother has always been my solid supporter,” she said. “He is the brain, and I am the heart, so we make a wonderful team.”

The siblings chose UH-Clear Lake for its affordable resident tuition, small class sizes, flexibility of courses, status as a minority-serving institution, and strong faculty.

“I was looking for a program that was instructor-led and local,” said Ravi. “Before enrolling at UHCL, I did extensive research and was very impressed by the credentials of the faculty.”

They both decided to enroll in the College of Education because “it is one field that touches all fields.”

“When I enrolled at UHCL, I gave myself about a year to see how I'd do in the program,” said Dipal. “The courses I took allowed me to gain skills which were applicable to my job."

Both siblings have educational backgrounds fueled by their parents’ determination to break the rules and social dogmas set before women in their native country.

“I am living my mother's dream,” said Dipal. “As a child, I was only allowed to attend my native language school, but Ravi was in English school. My mom did not know English, but she learned the alphabet to make sure my brother understood what he was being taught. We grew up in the same home but were raised differently.”

Ravi has always been aware of the preconceived gender roles established to limit women. Therefore, he strives to break the cycle of unfair treatment by acknowledging his sister’s achievements and placing her accomplishments before his own.

“I have never aspired to be the first place anything because I’ve always felt that she deserved it more,” he said. “I was prepared to defend my dissertation last summer but delayed it until Dipal defended hers because I started this with her and wanted to finish it with her. By standing up for my sister, I am also standing up for other women.”

Dipal, who recently defended her dissertation, has over 20 years of experience in higher education, but recently decided to take a break and focus on her health, family, and travel.

Ravi, the director for student innovation and entrepreneurship at Houston Community College (HCC), had to juggle work and studies, but his passion for education kept him going.

“My path into education was not a planned one,” he said. “Dipal ‘voluntold’ me to teach a Friday night class at HCC in 2011, and I have been there ever since.”

Dipal and Ravi's achievement is a testament to the power of family support, hard work, and determination. They hope to inspire others to pursue their academic and professional aspirations and positively impact their communities.

For more information about the College of Education, visit www.uhcl.edu/education/.