Editor’s Note: This blog was written and submitted by Vision 2020 Virginia Delegate Dr. Linnie S. Carter.
Increase the number of African-American female community college presidents in the United States by the year 2020 is my Vision 2020 goal. As a community college vice president myself, I take this responsibility very seriously.
I know how I feel about African-American female community college presidents. However, I wanted to hear from others.
Why is it important to have African-American female community college presidents? I posed this question to 23-year-old Shanaee Bodrick, a recent graduate of Howard University, where she earned a master’s degree in public history. Her long-term professional goals include working closely with minority serving institutions, more specifically historically Black colleges and universities, teaching about diversity issues and why it’s important to have this kind of curriculum at an HBCU. She also would like to research philanthropy as it pertains to HBCUs and predominately Black institutions.
Here are Shanaee’s inspirational thoughts – her own words:
Each decade, African-American women are making bigger and better strides professionally. We are researching, networking, and educating our fellow sisters about pursuing a career. Our demand for success is evident through our dominance on college campuses, whether functioning as a student or administrator. African-American women are especially becoming more progressive in the field of higher education. As diverse issues in higher education expand, dialogue about our leadership continues to develop. From counting the number of Black women college presidents on one hand to what now requires quantitative research, leadership becomes very intimate – especially at community colleges, where significant numbers of first-generation and postsecondary-education students flock to each year to further their education or to gain another skill set for the workforce. While the efforts of many are to contribute to the success of community colleges, we have to truly examine the importance of having African-American women guide these institutions.
What African-American women presidents bring to community colleges is a different perspective on curriculum, campus expansion and issues that affect the student body. Hoping to make their imprint in higher education, it is important for them to serve as a representation of strong values and beliefs. I believe they provide a realm of comfort and confidence among their students and faculty just because they are women who happen to be Black. These women carry an unwavering conviction that educating one mind can sprout into revolutionizing the community at large. They hold true that no change is too small and that one success after another adds up. Our natural ability to nurture young individuals can tremendously transform student success. Most importantly, African-American women community college presidents are not only needed now – they are needed to serve as “agents-of-change” for those who come after them.