Brave Girls Rock: Alcorn students hear real world advice from panels of distinguished women leaders

Accomplished women of leadership from Alcorn State University shared wisdom and professional advice with students who aspire to follow in their footsteps.

Students gathered in the James L. Bolden Campus Union Ballroom for the Brave Girls Rock: A Celebration of Alcorn Women Leaders panels Monday, Oct. 7 as a part of 2019 Homecoming activities. Therese Kennedy ’02, ’06, an entrepreneur and public relations professional, served as the moderator for the first panel. The group included Alcorn’s 20th President Dr. Felecia M. Nave ’96, Mississippi Court of Appeals Judge Deborah McDonald ’79, and Retired Col. Jennifer Riley Collins ’89.

Kennedy began the program by applauding the women leaders for setting a positive example for young Alcornites to follow in their fields.

“This is a dynamic panel because these women have been trailblazers for young women,” said Kennedy. “There is something you are getting here now that you will need later in life. We hope that you will be the next generation of young people to continue in their legacy of success.”

The panel discussed the misconception that women struggle to work together. Nave gave her perspective on the issue by debunking the myth, but also stating that female engagement can improve.

“Women can work together, but I think we can still do better,” said Nave. “We can show more support for each other because there is enough room for all of us to succeed. If we support each other more, we can achieve more success faster, be more effective in our efforts, and we can have more fruitful careers.”

The discussion later transitioned to politics and how to conduct an effective political campaign. Collins and McDonald chimed in with advice on how to maneuver through politics and campaigning.

“Soliciting help with your campaign is critical to having a successful election race,” said McDonald. “Getting help from others brings new ideas to help the campaign go smoother, and it provides more creative fundraising ideas. With these campaigns comes the opportunity to learn along the journey.”

“If you’re thinking about running for office, do it. Your generation has the power to make positive changes in our society. Continue to make your voices heard because policies are being passed that will impact your lives. Also, remember that it is important to have someone in the position to represents your interests.”

The event continued with a second panel of professional women later that evening. Fermika Smith ’02, interim human resources director for the City of Vicksburg, served as the moderator for the evening session. Dr. LaShundia Carson, associate professor for Alcorn’s School of Education and Psychology, Dr. Crystal Cook ’08, a family nurse practitioner/medical director for the Jefferson Comprehensive Health Center, Karen Flaggs ’93, owner of The Glam House Salon in Vicksburg, and Shirley Ellis Stampley ’74, ’00 executive director for the Jefferson Comprehensive Health Center were the panelists.

Carson’s advice to the students was to continue to learn and increase their knowledge to add more value to their repertoire.

“Continue to enhance your knowledge and skillset,” said Carson. “Pursue a master’s degree and beyond after your undergraduate years because these credentials can help you with your career pursuit. Also, strive to specialize in something outside of your skillset so that you can bring more value to the table and stand out among others.”

Finding a balance between work and self-care was Flaggs message to the audience. She stressed the importance of engaging in health and productive hobbies for a balanced life.

“Find a positive, healthy distraction outside of work and school,” said Flaggs. “Whatever your distraction of choice is, make sure it’s a hobby that not only makes you feel good but also makes you more productive.”

Challenges are inevitable, so Cook motivated the crowd to face obstacles head-on and use the experience to empower them in the future.

“For every negative thought that you have, find something positive about the challenges you face,” said Cook. “Your stress will not last forever. Use the obstacles you’re experiencing to prepare for your future.”

Stampley gave the students tips on how to overcome stress in their lives. She encouraged them to focus on finding solutions to their issues so that they can be more productive.

“Identify the issues that are causing your stress,” said Stampley. “Once you complete this step, you have to become determined to better yourself and overcome your challenges. If you allow your determination to out way your stress, then you can overcome any obstacle.”