awardees at the Leaders of distinction awardsThe African American Regional Educational Alliance honored Dr. Regina Stanback Stroud, President of Skyline College and five other African American female presidents and chancellors with the Mary McLeod Bethune Leaders of Distinction Award on Saturday, March 19, 2016. The award was bestowed upon Dr. Stroud since she has dedicated her life to not only improving the lives of students through education, but also advancing and exposing all students to the possibilities that are available to them by obtaining higher education degrees or certificates.

The award of distinction holds particular significance because Mary McLeod Bethune was the first African American female college president in the United States. Ms. McLeod Bethune opened the doors to the Cookman Institute for Men in 1923 and the institution later became known as Bethune-Cookman College. The college was one of the few places that African American students could pursue a college degree. She remained with the college until 1942.

Dr. Stroud is a champion for students and clearly lives up to the Mary McLeod Bethune Leaders of Distinction Award she was given as she states in her “President’s Welcome” quoting bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress:

“The academy is not paradise. But learning is a place where paradise can be created…In the field of possibility we have the opportunity to labor for freedom, to demand of ourselves and our comrades, an openness of mind and heart that allows us to face reality even as we collectively imagine ways to move beyond boundaries, to transgress. This is education as the practice of freedom (207).”

Dr. Stroud also writes: “I urge you to practice until you get it right. Get an education as if your life and the lives of future generations in your family depend on it – because they do.”

It is clear that Dr. Stroud lives up to the tenets of Mary McLeod Bethune Leaders of Distinction Award. One more note about the parallels of these two dynamic women is that Mary McLeod Bethune was known as the “First Lady of the Struggle.” She devoted her career to improving the lives of African Americans through education, political and economic empowerment.” Skyline College is again honored to have Dr. Regina Stanback Stroud as its college president.

Article and photos by Dr. Tammy Robinson