My alma mater is Tougaloo College, a small, private, Historically-Black College in Tougaloo, Mississippi, just north of Jackson. There are some who do not know the significance of this special place in the fabric of U.S. history and if you are included in that number, I invite you to learn more about YOUR history because I guarantee that Tougaloo has touched your life in some way, even if you aren’t yet aware of how.
Tougaloo is also a small, private college that deals with the challenges all small, private colleges face when it comes to resources (yes, I am talking about money). Yet, year after year, Tougaloo refuses to allow those challenges to get in the way of providing one of the best collegiate experiences in the nation. The proof is in my beloved Eagle Queen’s products, her alumni.
Recently, attention was drawn to some of the physical infrastructure challenges of my alma mater and it hurt my heart to see it spayed across the news broadcast. But the source of my sadness was knowing that most people would not appreciate the fact that private colleges like Tougaloo do not have access to many of the resources afforded to public colleges and universities. Tougaloo has the task of raising private dollars without having a huge team of development officers out pounding the pavement to fundraise. Tougaloo also has an alumni base around 5,000 which means that even if we had 100% alumni giving (the most successful schools are usually thrilled to have 10% by the way) we would still need outside participation to raise sufficient funds to take care of all that goes into running an outstanding higher education institution.
Tougaloo College also keeps its tuition affordable and has programmed into its DNA that it will be a place that holds open the door of opportunity for students many colleges would not take the risk of investing in.
In an effort to inform some and remind others of what the Tougaloo College experience is really like, the current SGA president issued a social media college for alumni to reflect on what Tougaloo College gave to them. I’ve decided that I will share a few of those reflections with those of you who follow my work because I love my alma mater and I want you all to understand and love it to. Tougaloo is deserving of your support whether that be cash donations or helping with recruiting new students or both. I hope my reflections will help you see why.
A Higher Standard
When I was approaching the end of my senior year my major advisor, Dr. Jerry W. Ward, Jr., informed me that I was expected to complete two Senior theses since I was an English-Journalism major. I had already completed my thesis for my English major that was also my Mellon Fellowship paper and thought that for once I was going to kick up my feet and relax a bit.
Those of you who have the privilege of being a “child” of Dr. Ward know that the last thing in the world you want to do is disappoint him. So, I had to come up with a second thesis topic for my Journalism major in order to graduate.
I found myself spending a lot of quality time in the Tougaloo archives writing “A Historical Perspective on the Campus Publications of Tougaloo College 1869 to 2001”. I had the honor of working my way through the history of Tougaloo College in a way that most people have not.
This was a part of my education that I value in my top five amazing experiences of my life. While I wasn’t exactly happy when Dr. Ward assigned me the task of doing an extra thesis, I appreciate him for that oh so important lesson. “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
Now, I am so very excited to know that the Tougaloo story is being included in the Smithsonian via the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and…Culture.
Marta C. Youngblood is a writer, education and social entrepreneur based in Little Rock, Arkansas. For more information on her current projects visit https://about.me/MCyoungblood.