Livingstone College began as a theological training ground founded by A.M.E. Zion ministers in Concord College in 1879, and relocated to Salisbury in 1882.
It’s symbolic that Livingstone College, the “holistic college” found its Salisbury, N.C., home on the promised “40 acres” of land, as this is the college where opportunity lives.
President Jimmy R. Jenkins Sr., Ph.D., tells rolling out the college is designed to produce global scholars.
In his personal life, Dr. Jenkins learned the value of a graduate degree the hard way, and today he instills that quest to be the best in the Livingstone College student body.
When did you decide to seek your advanced degrees and how did that decision enhance your life?
I was up for the department chairperson, when I was teaching in high school, and historically, the person who was the chair of that department had a B.S. degree just like I did.
When that person retired, I was next in line for that position, and the school said we are going to collapse that position and put someone in there with a master’s degree. And since I didn’t have that master’s degree, I lost that opportunity and that sparked my determination to say never again would an offer come forward to me and they use my credentials or degree as a way to prevent me from getting a job.
In one sense it was a disappointment that really motivated me to get my master’s and my doctorate degrees. It was a blessing in disguise.
That has helped me greatly because from that I not only went back to teach, I also became an administrator. I [have served more than] 26 years as a college president, and I know that would not have been the case if it were not for my decision at the time to make sure I was fully qualified for any new opportunities that came along.
What are the biggest impediments for people who are in pursuit of their master’s degrees?
Cost is a major issue, especially for minority students. Secondly, it’s the requirements to spend a great deal of time dealing with certain test scores that may or may not reflect the scholarship or intellectual ability of the students. That’s a big challenge for minorities in general, what we find is once those individuals who are very aggressive and are interested in getting advanced degrees are given the opportunity, they soar, and they do quite well.
What needs to be done to remove such roadblocks? It’s a matter of opportunity and making the information available. Too often they don’t know what the scholarship programs are, and what the institutes are at the graduate schools so they aren’t able to take advantage of it. So just exposure and being able to understand how to take advantage of it would be helpful. Right now it’s an impediment because they do not know where those programs are.
What makes Livingstone College special?
Our school is special because Livingstone remains true to their original mission and that mission was to take our people wherever they are and to take them where they need to be in order for them to take their rightful place in a global society. We remain true to that, we take a very diverse student population; we take students who can go anywhere in the nation and we take students who probably couldn’t go anywhere else. And that’s the mission of HBCUs and the degree that I got, and the ability to go back to an HBCU gave me the opportunity to fulfill that mission of why HBCUs exist today. In my opinion, that is the only justification for the existence of HBCUs in the 21st century.
To learn more about Livingstone and its programs, visit www.livingstone.edu.