DeSoto Center Funeral Service Technology program director earns doctorate

Dr. Keith Reed, dean of Northwest Mississippi Community College’s DeSoto Center is pleased to announce that Angela Hopper, program director of the Funeral Service Technology Program recently earned her doctorate in Education with an emphasis in Higher Education from the University of Mississippi.

In her job at Northwest, Hopper discovered a disparity between the pass rates of African-American students and Caucasian students on the National Board Examination students are required to take after finishing the program. She noticed that the problem was not just at Northwest, but appeared to be a national problem.

“I wanted to find out if it was a problem, and what could be done to overcome it. I tried to discover what we were doing in our own program here at Northwest that was not helping our students to succeed,” Hopper said. She began by examining the program’s documents and spaces and discovered ways that will hopefully improve students’ experiences at Northwest and help them to succeed in the future, she said. She noted that interviewing students for her dissertation also helped her identify areas where more improvement could be made. “I have to also recognize my colleagues, Dr. Keith Reed, Dr. Tonyalle Rush, and Ebone’ Dukes for giving me valuable feedback on my work,” Hopper said.

Her dissertation was entitled “Armatures of Success: Advancing Racial Equity for Funeral Service Technology Students.”

“An armature is a supportive framework used in restorative art, and I used that title to show that we are attempting to support these students,” Hopper said.

“Dr. Hopper’s study revealed some very important and useful information concerning our funeral service technology students at the DeSoto Center. The wealth of knowledge and information Dr. Hopper has acquired from her doctoral studies will be beneficial to our college as well as other college communities,” Reed said.

Hopper came to Northwest as an instructor in 2012 and was named program director in 2016. She also teaches oral communications at DeSoto Center as an adjunct instructor. Before coming to Northwest, she was a supervisor in tissue recovery at the Mid-South Transplant Foundation in Memphis. She worked as triage coordinator, manager of the Communications Center and triage coordinator for Mid-America Transplant Services in St. Louis, Missouri and donor coordinator/ funeral service liaison at the Mid-South Tissue Bank in Memphis and as funeral director/embalmer and manager of Forest Hill Funeral Home in Memphis.

Hopper began her educational at Northwest when she graduated with a certificate from the Funeral Service technology program at DeSoto Center. She earned her associate of Applied Science from Northwest and a bachelor’s degree in Mortuary Management and a master of arts degree in Communications from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri.

She was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa and Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Societies. Her professional certifications include the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association Cremation Arranger and Cremation Operator.  At Northwest, she serves as the Sigma Phi Sigma advisor and as a member the Library committee, the Appeals and Disciplinary Committee, the Institutional Effectiveness Committee and the Strategic Planning Committee.

For more information on the DeSoto Center, visit the college’s website at or call (662) 342-1570.


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