St. Philip's College president shares experiences of growing up in segregated South
SAN ANTONIO - Born in the segregated south, the head of St. Philip's College won't forget how people were mistreated.
"I grew up in Vicksburg, Mississippi." Racism didn't hold her back, but it continues to serve as a reminder for Dr. Adena Williams Loston to do all she can to help students succeed and earn a college degree.
Dr. Loston recently met with our Darlene Dorsey to talk about her experiences growing up with racial segregation.
"I used to struggle with the fact that you could speak to a person and just say 'hello.' Rather than them speaking back, they would spit on you," she says.
She decided not to let those instances of racism mold her future. Instead, she says her sister proved to be much more influential.
"When she decided she was going to Alcorn State University, my fate was sealed," says Dr. Loston.
Like her sister, Dr. Loston became an educator. She was once the Chief Education Officer for NASA and she also recalls having a certain unofficial title many times in her career.
"I have either been the first black or the only black in that job," she says.
Dr. Loston takes pride in racial diversity at St. Philip's College where she has held the top post since 2007. It's considered an historically black and hispanic institution.
Many students attend part-time. Some deal with hardships, impacting their ability to learn or afford tuition.
"We have students who are homeless," she says. "We have students that are aging out of the foster care system."
Still, many of those students are rising to the top of their respective fields of study, such as the popular and successful culinary program at St. Philip's.
Dr. Loston admits her path to leadership hasn't always been easy, but she says it has been rewarding.
She says her faith along with her experience growing up in the segregated south taught her that everyone deserves a chance to hope, dream and find some success.
"Don't give up. Don't settle. Don't let anyone determine your rightful place in life," she says.