The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) provides support to its students and student-athletes in the form of internships, jobs and scholarship opportunities through partners like Food Lion, a major grocery chain located in 10 Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic states.
Meet Angela Beverly-Kibler, a 2003 Johnson C. Smith University alumna who currently serves as an employee relations manager at Food Lion.
We sat down with Beverly-Kibler to learn more about her CIAA experience, including when she landed an opportunity with Food Lion, her current employer of almost 15 years.
How has attending Johnson C. Smith University, one of the CIAA’s 12 member institutions, impacted your life?
My experiences at Smith were nurturing and they encouraged me to be unapologetically myself. I felt like I could still fit in without sacrificing the core of who I was. The story of how I got to JCSU is a bit unique in that I never stepped foot on the campus before applying, being accepted, or even enrolling. By my sophomore year, I was involved in several organizations and activities on campus. I also developed connections with faculty and staff who genuinely cared about me and ensured that I kept my focus on academics. They filled the void I felt from being 600 miles away from home where my biological parents were. Because of their guidance, I received several scholarships for having the highest grade point average in my major and graduated summa cum laude.
The relationships I had with my peers were invaluable, as well. At Smith, I was exposed to different cultures and traditions of people who lived in various parts of the U.S. and internationally. Although the world would categorize us all as “Black,” we openly conversed about and celebrated our various backgrounds and upbringings. I wouldn’t change my Smith experience for anything.
How did you land your current position with Food Lion?
My journey with Food Lion began during my senior year at Johnson C. Smith University. It’s been an amazing path that I never thought I’d pursue as a social work major. Food Lion was on our campus recruiting for their Retail Management Trainee program. They mentioned the desire to find graduates to cultivate and ultimately run a store as a manager or assistant manager. I struggled with [that] idea, but Dr. Helen Caldwell, who was my professor at the time and is now dean of the JCSU School of Social Work, encouraged me to pursue the opportunity.
Within my 14 years at Food Lion, I’ve held nine positions such as assistant store manager, training coordinator, and training manager. Each opportunity I’ve accepted has been progressively better than the one before and they’ve all positioned me for where I am today. Currently, I serve as the employee relations manager at Food Lion, helping to ensure our associates are treated fairly and consistently with respect and dignity. I lead a team of 23 employee relations specialists (also known as associate relations specialists), who provide a similar service for our 63,000 Food Lion associates, and are located in various places from Delaware to Tennessee. I’m thankful to Dr. Caldwell for her guidance on a decision that changed my life.
What advice would you give CIAA students who are interested in a potential internship or career opportunity with Food Lion?
Be bold and have bold ideas that you take with you to the interview. Be open-minded if a position at Food Lion doesn’t seem like a perfect match with what you majored in. Keep in mind that there are lots of great opportunities within the company that are behind the scenes or in-progress of being created.
Great ideas are birthed from Food Lion’s Retail Management Trainee program where associates are placed on the front lines of its stores. This experience also helps guide your decision-making because you know firsthand what type of ideas would be successful if implemented in retail stores.
What message do you want to share with others about the importance of supporting the CIAA?
It’s critical to support the CIAA. By supporting the conference, you’re assisting its efforts toward the mental, spiritual, educational, and professional development of CIAA students. Also, these collegiate’ s are our future. When we support CIAA member institutions, we support the future that’s going to be in front of us at some point and time as an employee, colleague, or maybe even an employer.
If you want to see them be prepared for what lies ahead and succeed, why not take a chance and support their journey? There’s an aura of family and perseverance that radiates and circulates [across the CIAA]. It’s important that such a legacy be continued, but it can’t without our help.