HBCU Graduates: Where Are They Now?

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Graduation is a major milestone for almost every student who completes college. For HBCU students, it is also a time to reflect on their student experiences and start utilizing the tools they developed to be successful in their future careers. There are a multitude of pathways to success after college, but many of the memories and takeaways from college share some common themes.

Learn more from three HBCU graduates who have gone on to build successful careers after college. Among the lessons learned, you’ll find that academic preparation, building professional relationships, and finding community were significant tips that have helped them succeed.

Academic Preparation

Academic Preparation with Richelle Whittaker, Ph.D.

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Portrait of Richelle Whittaker, Ph.D.

Richelle Whittaker, Ph.D.

Dr. Richelle Whittaker is on a mission to educate and empower mothers. She is an educational psychologist, parenting coach, and a trusted authority on the treatment of maternal mental health issues for women of color. She is also a leading champion for empowering parents/caregivers to become strong advocates for themselves and their children via education and implementation of specialized treatment plans that address the unique dynamics of ethnic cultures/communities. Dr. Whittaker is a dynamic and interactive speaker who interweaves knowledge with her own experiences. She is the founder of Providential Counseling & Consulting Services and Next Steps Educational Consulting Services. Dr. Whittaker attended Grambling State University for her undergraduate studies.

"My professors at Grambling State held us to high expectations and did not let us use excuses as to why we didn't follow their rules or complete an assignment. They required us to show up and do the work no matter what. They knew what we would face in the job market as African Americans and laid the foundation for us in the classroom. My professors knew what we could do and held us to high expectations. The foundation that was laid, along with those high expectations, created a standard of excellence that I carried with me into the world of work."

Building Professional Relationships

Building Professional Relationships with Meryle Brown

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Portrait of Meryle Brown

Meryle Brown

Meryle Brown is an accomplished graduate of Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University. Meryle is currently an account transitions analyst with two years of successful experience within the public and private sectors. She helps clients make decisions related to money matters, personal finances, and investments. Meryle specializes in investment management operations technologies and regularly attends national training sessions to showcase new financial tech trends and people analytics tools. A firm believer in the power of positive thinking in the workplace, Meryle is currently developing internal wellness campaigns to assist employees with good mental health techniques. Meryle enjoys spending time with family, traveling, and experiencing new things.

"The biggest takeaway from my HBCU college experience would be perseverance and valuing the relationships you have built. Ultimately, college can be hard emotionally and financially, but when you make up your mind that you are determined to be successful, you are now up for the challenge. My time at an AAMU helped me develop professionally because I took advantage of building relationships within the Career Development Services (CDS) center on campus. Also, while attending managerial communication classes, we learned everything about being in a professional environment and how to navigate throughout the workplace. I attended mock interviews and CDS career events, which helped me secure internships and job offers. I am so thankful for everyone in CDS who helped mold me into the ambitious young professional I am today!"

Finding Community

Finding Community with Aisha Robinson

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Portrait of Aisha Robinson

Aisha Robinson

Aisha A. Robinson is a 22 year old native of Columbia, South Carolina. During her undergraduate studies, she attended Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina, earning a bachelor's degree in sociology with a minor in psychology. While in college, she was an active member of the school's gospel choir -- D.R.E.A.M. Gospel Choir -- where she served as the group's secretary for a year. Upon graduation, she received a job opportunity from the Department of Social Services in Columbia, which she eagerly accepted. Aisha currently works at the state office in downtown Columbia where she serves as a case manager in the intake hub. As a member of that team, she works in a call-center setting, where she receives and processes calls/reports pertaining to child and adult abuse instances. In her personal life, she is an active member at Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church, where she has held the position of lead instructor for her praise dance team since 2017. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, drawing, cooking, singing, doing hair, and watching movies.

"My biggest take away from my college HBCU experience was feeling a sense of care and comradery amongst my other peers. Being at my HBCU, which has about 2,000 students on a small private campus, I always felt really at home and very safe. Every day, walking through campus, I always saw familiar faces amongst my peers and my professors. In connecting with my peers, I was able to develop many long-lasting relationships of support as we matriculated through our undergraduate studies. Along with this, I also made many connections with my professors within my major. In connecting with my professors, I was able to gain much insight on their career paths, their time in college, and how they reached the point of teaching social sciences at the collegiate level. Having professors -- Black professors -- of high status that I knew were in my corner rooting for me, gave me motivation to strive to their levels of success, along with helping me shape my own career path and my professional goals for myself."

Feature Image: Thomas Barwick / DigitalVision / Getty Images