ATHENS, W.Va. – Concord University President Kendra Boggess spoke recently to a group of students about her experiences as a first-generation college student and the various stops on her career path. Her presentation, The Journey to Success and Leadership: No GPS Can Chart the Course, was held in observance of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month.
Concord’s Department of Business and the University’s Diversity Council collaborated to host the event which was held the morning of Thursday, March 4th. Dr. Boggess offered her remarks via Zoom and in-person to students assembled in a socially-distanced classroom in the Rahall Technology Center.
“Everybody has a journey,” Dr. Boggess said as she began her talk.
She said her decisions regarding her education and professional moves were based on “faith, family, country, and the world in which I was growing up.”
Dr. Boggess encouraged the students to pursue their dreams. “Do something you love doing,” she said. “Surround yourself with people you like being around.”
She recalled that as a young woman, she was told her career options were basically limited to being a secretary, nurse or teacher. In her particular situation, she was expected to work in the family business – a small butcher shop that grew into a very successful large gourmet food market.
Her earliest jobs, she said, included popping corn in a movie theatre, selling handbags and hosiery at a retail store and assisting her family in their business.
Along with learning that these jobs weren’t for her in the long-term, Dr. Boggess said they also showed her the value of work.
“No matter what job you have…you are learning about being on time…you are learning about a work ethic. Working hard is valuable. Work…It gives you purpose!”Dr. Kendra Boggess
Kendra Boggess admitted to the students in the audience that a college degree wasn’t initially in her plans.
Neither of her parents had attended college, and she says she didn’t receive much encouragement at school to further her education.
While she was a member of the National Honor Society in high school and considered herself “bright”, and someone who “loved learning…especially loved reading”, she recalls,
“I didn’t want to go to college.”
Her mother, however, insisted otherwise, and told her, “You’re getting a degree. You’re going to go to college, period!”
She started her educational journey at a local community college in Florida where she and her family lived.
After earning an associate degree, she attended the University of Florida in Gainesville for her bachelor’s degree. “I finished with a business education degree,” she said.
She would go on to earn a master’s degree and her doctorate from Virginia Tech. Her marriage to architect Ted Boggess brought her to West Virginia.
The future university president began her career at Concord when she was invited to teach a business class. She accepted the offer and discovered that she enjoyed the college classroom setting and interacting with students.
“I loved teaching that class! This is really fun!” she remembered thinking.
With this step, she began her more than three decades long association with Concord and her progression through the academic and administrative ranks. As a member of Concord’s faculty, she went on to serve as Faculty President and as the Chair of the Division of Business for 13 years, and then advanced to the Associate Dean position. From there, she was tapped to be the Interim Vice President and Academic Dean, Interim President and eventually President of the University, an appointment that she accepted in 2014.
Dr. Boggess explained that what she enjoys most about being President of Concord University is her involvement with students. “You guys are the best part of this place,” she said.
Dr. Susan Williams, Director of the Beckley Campus and Professor of Marketing, introduced Dr. Boggess at the beginning of the symposium. At the conclusion, Dr. Susan Robinett, Chair of the Department of Business and Professor of Business, presented Dr. Boggess with a plaque of appreciation on behalf of the Department for her “leadership and commitment to the Concord University community” and in “honor of International Women’s Day 2021.”
Persons with disabilities should contact Nancy Ellison, 1-304-384-6086 or 1-800-344-6679 extension 6086, if special assistance is required for access to an event scheduled by the University on campus.
Sarah M. Pritchett
Office of Advancement
PO Box 1000, Athens, WV 24712
(304) 384-6312, firstname.lastname@example.org
After 4 p.m.