The journey to earning a college degree is often one that is life-changing and one that opens expected opportunities for graduates.
For Tabitha Liburd, who will receive her Master of Arts in conflict management at commencement Saturday, it was a “cathartic” experience and one that has led her to leave a legal career behind to start a new professional pursuit in the field of conflict management.
Today, Liburd is human resources manager at Juice Analytics, and is putting her conflict resolution skills to work in that role as well as through Marshall Duke Consulting, a firm she established as part of her capstone project. But her journey took a turn through several countries before the pathway led to Lipscomb University’s conflict management program, housed in the College of Leadership & Public Service.
“I like to consider myself a citizen of the world! I was born in Guyana, South America and have lived in Barbados, Trinidad, St. Kitts and Nevis, the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands before moving to the United States,” admits Liburd, who now lives in Franklin, Tennessee.
Liburd, who earned a law degree from the Academy of West Indies in 1992, was working in the Bahamas as deputy registrar of the supreme court when legislation was passed to encourage pre-trial mediation. Registrars were trained as mediators to have the tools to conduct those mediations.
“I was thrilled to see how a mediation unfolded, and the opportunity to combine resolving issues with restoring relationships in a way that would not be served by litigation,” she recalls.
She was so intrigued that she decided to learn more. She discovered the Strauss Institute for Dispute Resolution housed in Pepperdine University’s School of Law. She completed the advanced mediation certificate, and along the way had Lipscomb President L. Randolph Lowry for a professor in one of her favorite classes. After class, she asked Lowry how she could learn more. He gave her his contact information and Liburd connected with Beth Morrow, formerly with Lipscomb’s Institute for Conflict Management and now adjunct faculty in the program, who kept her updated on Lipscomb’s program. She decided wanted to pursue more education in this area that intrigued her so much.
“I chose Lipscomb because it was important to me that I could learn in an environment where I could freely express my faith, and incorporate it in my learning,” says Liburd. “I came into Lipscomb sure that I was going to be a mediator. I was settled on that. Then came the first course — Survey in Conflict Management — which introduced the concept that we can help people resolve conflict and help them manage any conflict that was not resolved. And I knew it was about so much more. This degree exposed me to the myriad of options to apply conflict management in everyday life.”
Liburd calls her pursuit of this graduate degree “cathartic.”
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time here. I was taught by amazing professors, supported by kind and helpful library staff and met friendly and engaging classmates who agreed that we will continue to meet and talk about how we use conflict management in our unique careers,” she recalls.
“Each course provided a new opportunity to reflect, learn and create new normals which I will continue to practice. Entering this field marks an official shift from a career in law to a career in conflict management, and I am excited to see how that unfolds.”
Lipscomb University’s College of Leadership & Public Service offers undergraduate programs in law, justice and society; sustainability and pre-law studies as well as degree programs in conflict management, leadership and public service, and sustainability.
Want to know more about the College of Leadership & Public Service's academic programs and offerings? Visit www.lipscomb.edu/leadership.