ATLANTA – Mercer University College of Professional Advancement students Sheena Blue and Melissa Parker are the recipients of this year’s Harris-Davis Transformational Power of Education Award.

Sheena Blue
Sheena Blue

Blue, from Atlanta, is majoring in human resources administration.

She has 15 years of experience in health care as a patient financial services manager and chose Mercer’s College of Professional Advancement to aid in facilitating a career change that would allow her to continue to thrive in her passion to help others.

She plans to transition to full-time employment with the Georgia Forestry Commission as a human resource generalist and is excited to help fulfill the organization’s mission to provide leadership, service and education in the protection and conservation of Georgia’s forest resources.

Blue is a member of the Alpha Sigma Lambda Society and has been consistently named to the President’s and Dean’s lists.

Melissa Parker
Melissa Parker

Parker, from Santa Maria, California, is majoring in homeland security and emergency management.

She currently serves as 911 director for the Chamblee Police Department. She previously served with the Santa Maria Police Department for 14 years as a 911 dispatcher and senior communications training officer, earning multiple department accommodations and leading teams to implement a new 911 call system, dispatcher training program, training aids and dispatch curricula. She has been an acting lead, certified training officer, chairperson for dispatcher oral interviews and a presenter for the Dispatcher Course of the Citizens Academy.

She is certified through California Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) as a POST Instructor and Tactical Dispatcher, as well as in the areas of Active School Shooter, Hostage Negotiations and Critical Incident Stress Management. She also has multiple certifications through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), including its Professional Development Series (PDS).

Parker is a member of Alpha Phi Sigma and Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Societies.

She is a single mom with two daughters, Madison, who recently graduated from the University of Mississippi with a degree in sports management, and Emily, who recently graduated with honors from St. Joseph High School and will be attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to major in aerospace engineering.

The Harris-Davis Transformational Power of Education Award, presented annually to undergraduate students who have experienced the transformational power of education, is named for emeriti faculty members Dr. Colin Harris and Dr. Duane Davis.

An anonymous College of Professional Advancement faculty member provided the initial gift of more than $25,000 to endow the award.

“Our faculty donor wished to honor Dr. Harris and Dr. Davis, exemplary and beloved faculty members who taught, encouraged and cared for students at Mercer for 80 combined years,” said Dr. Priscilla Danheiser, dean of the College of Professional Advancement. “Dr. Harris was the first recipient of the University’s most prestigious award for excellence in teaching, the Joe and Jean Hendricks Award, for his effectiveness in engaging students in his subject matter area of religious studies. He served for many years as chair of liberal studies. Dr. Davis, who served as humanities chair, is beloved by Mercer alumni and taught philosophy and religion for many years to students who clamored for his classes.”

To be eligible for the award, students must be enrolled in the College of Professional Advancement and classified as seniors, with the majority of their credits earned at Mercer and a GPA of 3.25 or higher. Students who have successfully balanced academic endeavors with full- or part-time employment, family responsibilities and/or community service are given preference.

Students are nominated by faculty members, and nominations are considered by a selection committee consisting of faculty members and administrators.

About the College of Professional Advancement

Mercer University’s College of Professional Advancement is committed to serving post-traditional learners. Undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs are offered to adult learners seeking professional advancement into leadership roles in and beyond their communities. Programs provide students with distinctive, multidisciplinary experiences that integrate theory and practice. In addition to providing general education and elective courses for various colleges and schools at Mercer, the College of Professional Advancement offers degree programs in areas including technology, public safety, public and human services, leadership and administration, health care and liberal arts. Programs are offered on Mercer’s campuses in Atlanta and Macon, as well as Regional Academic Centers in Douglas County and Henry County, and online. To learn more, visit

Featured photo by Jason Braverman