Belinda, what is your personal story and what made you so successful as a First Gen grad in your career path, including what it took to answer this calling as a black woman in the often-homogenous field of Management Information Systems?
“If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl; but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
The many challenges like pursuit of the PhD taught me to embrace the challenges, count it all good and keep it moving. Success means having courage to follow your dreams, look for your purpose and happiness, and reach back and help others. I have learned the path you have imagined at the beginning of your journey may have many unexpected twists and turns toward reaching your destination. However, do not be disheartened; adapt, adjust, and keep your eye on the prize, on your goals, your dreams. My PhD journey was much longer than I ever expected, but I did not give up.
The MIS field has given me the opportunity to explore my many curiosities in an authentic way and to challenge myself to learn and share the continuously changing world of technology with others.
As a first-generation student in high school, I did not know very much about going to college. I was refused help initially, but finally found help from an African American counselor. With his help, I figured it out. I graduated from high school early and worked full time to save money. After graduating, I worked in private industry before entering graduate school.
Pursuing my PhD, I was fortunate to have a great support system in the PhD project. I also had two great PhD advisors at my university, who helped me tremendously with my research and writing. The PhD project family, which included Bernie Milano, staff, doctoral students, and many more were a blessing to me in the wealth of knowledge and support that they provided. The PhD project made a significant difference in my success throughout my PhD experience and continues to be a part of my ongoing growth and success. I was named, “Dr. Triple” to recognize the success of the program when the number of minority business faculty graduating with a PhD tripled from its inception. I was the 882nd PhD graduate.
Being a part of North Carolina A&T State University (NCAT) has provided me with a good support system and so many opportunities to make a difference in my life and the lives of others. I feel NCAT is part of my life purpose and I was meant to be here. I am currently an Associate professor in the College of Business and Economics and an Associate Director in the Center of Excellence in Cybersecurity Research, Education and Outreach.
Who made a difference for you on your career path and how will you/are you paying that forward for leaders of color and inclusive allies?
I will pay it forward by continuing to demand excellence, explore, mentor, share and collaborate with others. Others who made a difference include:
My parents: They taught me and my eight brothers and sisters that anything is possible with hard work and determination. Although my parents never went to college, they were survivors who taught me the power of education.
My daughter: My awesome daughter encouraged me to keep going during a very rough patch in my personal life. She took care of her younger brother, helped me stuff envelopes and anything else she could do.
What would you most like to achieve by the end of your career- your legacy?
I would like to be recognized as someone who cares and gives back in a big way to others. I would also like to write at least one book.
What do you most want to say to young people today who aspire to be as successful as you, especially our emerging African American talent as we celebrate Black history in this past year of multiple measure difficulty?
Stay continuously curious. Believe in yourself and go after your dreams and goals with passion, conviction, integrity, excellence, grace, courage. Do not let fear turn you.