September 14, 2009
On September 11, 2009, C. Vivian Stringer, head coach of Rutgers University’s Scarlet Knights women’s basketball team, former head coach of Iowa State University’s Cyclones, former head coach of Cheyney State’s Wolves, and the self-proclaimed coal miner’s daughter, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. As usual, Coach C. Vivian Stringer’s presence on the Hall of Fame stage was the epitome of courage, grace, and class.
While giving her acceptance speech, Coach Stringer stood under three university’s logos representing her journey in basketball and the teams she led to the Final Four—Cheyney University, Iowa State University, and Rutger’s University. In her speech, Coach Stringer focused on the value of family, her love of coaching, and the pivotal contributions of family and friends who helped her through numerous difficulties in life.
Coach Stringer gave special thanks to Coach John Chaney who served as her mentor and guide. Coach John Chaney was previously enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in 2001. Both Coach Chaney and Coach Stringer helped to build recognition of the men’s and women’s basketball programs at Cheyney State College—from relative unknowns to national contenders.
Watching her recount those special moments in her life, and in the lives of others, reminded me that for Coach Stringer, basketball is the vehicle she uses to help develop future female leaders who are tough, resilient, and courageous.
The 2009 Hall of Fame Ceremony was truly a star-studded night which provided an opportunity for a glimpse into the excellence and greatness of some extraordinary Americans. Inducted with Coach Stringer were four others—former Utah Jazz team player and all-time assist leader, John Stockton; “the Admiral,” David Robinson, of the San Antonio Spurs; Jerry Sloan, the long-reigning coach of the Utah Jazz; and the legendary Michael Jordan of UNC, the Chicago Bulls, and the Washington Wizards.
After listening to the acceptance speeches and personal journeys of all of the inductees, it seems that the life journeys of the 2009 inductees demonstrate many qualities that are admirable in our society that extend far beyond basketball. John Stockton, at 6’1”—demonstrated excellence by hard work, physical and mental toughness, loyalty, and assisting others (especially Karl Malone) as a point guard with the Utah Jazz. Similarly, Jerry Sloan’s journey was characterized by loyalty to the Utah Jazz. He is one of the longest-serving and most successful coaches in the NBA. David Robinson also illustrated excellence with the San Antonio Spurs his entire career including mentoring former Wake Forest University star, Tim Duncan. He joined the NBA after serving as an officer in the US Navy. His off-court contributions are as admired as his basketball excellence. Robinson has contributed over $9 million to community efforts to help mentor and develop the skills of the next generation of youth. Michael Jordan’s phenomenal basketball journey and his acceptance speech at the Naismith Hall of Fame ceremony centered on the need for competitiveness to refine one’s skills to achieve excellence. Michael Jordan is credited with elevating the NBA’s influence globally, reaching the status of cultural icon, and contributing philanthropically to many causes. Michael Jordan, or Air Jordan, has been known to state that if you put in the work, results will come.
In fact, in addition to the glitz and red carpet of the September 11th Hall of Fame ceremony, the stories of the extraordinary athletes and coaches seemed to portray us at our best. Possibly, that is why we admire them so much. Undoubtedly, the athletic feats and the personal and mental toughness demonstrated by the 2009 Hall of Fame Inductees offer us a glimpse of many other untold stories of heroism, intensity of purpose, and excellence. The Inductees in the Basketball Hall of Fame show us the best of what we are, and what we can be, when we commit ourselves to a defining purpose. For Coach Stringer, coaching young women in basketball furnishes an opportunity for her to help guide others through life, and pass them “the baton” to assume the task of “paying it forward.”
Geri and I had the honor, and the privilege, of representing the Cheyney University family at the ceremonial events. Even though I am a long-time basketball fan, this was the first time we attended the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame ceremonies. The entire Cheyney University community thanks C. Vivian Stringer for remembering us in her moment of well-earned victory. You always have a home here—Coach Stringer!
September 02, 2009
First of all, if we believe the premise that the higher education of a wide range of Americans is necessary to secure our future well-being as a country and competitive economic power, then anything is possible including designing a smoother transition to college and furnishing financial resources for youth who cannot afford to attend college without such resources.
Recently, I have been reading about some of the factors that affect the transition of students of color, and first generation students, into college and their overall progression towards graduation. Of course, one of the reasons I am studying this body of literature is because we want to identify best overall practices to help increase the number of college-going students in the Philadelphia region and the Commonwealth. The Thurgood Marshall College Fund is also interested in this topic and is accepting proposals from scholars who want to conduct more research on the factors that influence retention and graduation rates at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
My two years here at Cheyney University, and my thirty years of service in seven other institutions including Chicago State University, Winston-Salem State University, and two community colleges, suggest to me that more pre-college planning and entrée to appropriate financial resources is paramount to providing access to higher education for students from average and less-advantaged households. Pre-college planning is very important since the entrée to scholarships and financial resources is also linked to a student’s performance on SAT and ACT tests. When our youth are in their early high school years, it is essential that we develop a wide range of proficiencies in all students and keep these students on our radar for further knowledge and skill development in college.
Observing the enrollment management processes at Cheyney University has illuminated for me that providing access to college opportunities has at least two significant phases. The first phase needs to happen long before students arrive on campus for orientation and enrollment processes. In fact, the transition to college needs to begin by the student’s second year in high school and earlier than that might be desirable depending on the student’s career goals. In starting the transition to college, it seems critical that all educational professionals and support personnel have high expectations for our youth and begin the conversation about college with each child they encounter. An expectation about lifelong learning and achievement can be built into each lesson plan, lecture, casual conversation, and extracurricular activity. These expectations and conversations will send important messages to students about succeeding at higher levels of learning.
When students and their parents explore college in this first phase, families should learn as much as possible about the cost of a college education, options for paying for a college education (grants, scholarships, tuition reimbursement, work study, etc.), and the timeliness necessary to be ready to apply for financial aid (scholarships, grants, and loans) from particular institutions, banks, and agencies. The exploration of college options should, moreover, lead to a strategy for performing well on college entrance exams, which tend to determine who is eligible for scholarships at a specific university. Students who come from families with more resources tend to take SAT/ACT test preparation courses and the exams several times to attain a “best score.”
So without a doubt, phase one of accessing the opportunities of a college education and financing a college education involves the entire family of a student. As a parent who currently has a daughter in college with aspirations to attend law school, I can personally attest to the angst involved in paying for college. Each family has to discuss its resources and how these resources will be employed to help defray the student’s college tuition and other expenses. The family also must be made aware of the need to act in a timely manner to complete financial aid forms, loan applications, and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA). The first step for completing the FASFA is to “get organized” (by gathering income/tax documents).
Some of us in higher education take for granted that students will go online and complete the FASFA six months before arriving on campus; however, my experience suggests this is true for maybe 50 percent of the students who arrive on campus. So, what do we do to help expand access to college opportunities? It seems that colleges and universities need the help of other organizations who will also guide families to “get organized,” so that the student can have a successful transition into college. This is where the Village comes in. There are numerous pre-college organizations and agencies that will work with students during their high school years to help them prepare for the college entrance exams, select an appropriate college, and work with the family to organize and plan for paying for college.
At Cheyney University, we will expand our efforts to partner with these organizations to help families organize and plan for the transition to college. PHEAA (PA State Grant Applications), INROADS, Project Grad, Gear Up, CORE Philly, Upward Bound, and the Chester County Higher Education Network, are just a few of the organizations and agencies that are there to help families. Additionally, many churches have also developed social ministries that include furnishing scholarships for students to attend college.
Once students arrive on a college campus with a clearer vision of their goals, and completed FAFSA’s, scholarships, and other plans for paying for college, the second phase begins. The second phase might be where the real work begins; it involves helping students to understand their responsibilities to maintain their grades, to progress towards a major in a timely manner, and to continue to stay organized regarding how they will continue to finance their college education. This might mean registering early and keeping apprised of changes in federal financial aid policies and working with campus advisors.
The second phase of helping students to stay organized must involve the University’s faculty and staff who are needed to help retain students by reminding students of actions needed to maintain their college status and their financial aid status. Faculty are especially essential for exposing students to an array of disciplines, opportunities, passions, and paths to encourage pursuit of a purposeful life.
When you think about it, the Village will only benefit from a highly-proficient, talented, and educated citizenry and workforce. We can all rest a little easier in knowing that we are preparing a better future for America.
P R E V I O U S P O S T S
- President's Blog - June 2013 - The Value of Cheyney University is Affirmed for Us
- President's Blog - April 2013 - CU Transforming to Produce A Quality Education for the 21st Century
- President's Blog - March 2013 - Our Daughters and The Broadening of The Talented Tenth
- President's Blog--January 2013--Our Collective Action is Required
- President's Blog - February 2013 - Helping Others Reach Their Potential
- Thoughts for a Really New Year
- HBCUs – A Village of Choice for Some
- Cheyney University – 175 Years of Access, Opportunity, and Excellence
- A Fork in the Road ...
- The Unleveled Playing Field
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