ACW Member Interview: My Experience at HBCU Spelman College

Feb 28, 2024

To celebrate Black History Month and the contributions and legacy of African Americans, ACW is highlighting historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and ACW members who attended them.

In this blog, Staci Corbett, Senior Manager, Channel Marketing at Fusion Connect, shares her experience at Spelman College.

Staci Corbett

Staci Corbett

How did your experiences at Spelman College prepare you for the challenges and opportunities you encountered in your professional journey?

As an HBCU student, I learned early on that excellence is not contingent on ideal resources, but rather on resilience, determination and a relentless pursuit of success.

Spelman College, like many HBCUs, often faced resource constraints compared to larger institutions. However, this environment taught me invaluable lessons in resourcefulness, adaptability and perseverance. Whether it was navigating limited research opportunities or accessing state-of-the-art technology, Spelman equipped me with the skills and mindset to excel despite any obstacles that came my way. More than anything though, Spelman College instilled in me the confidence that nothing was impossible. There is an atmosphere of excellence and accomplishment at Spelman that makes it impossible for its students to not push for the best.

Reflecting on your career trajectory, what role did mentorship or support networks from your HBCU community play in helping you navigate the tech industry?

At Spelman, there’s a profound commitment to community service and a deep-seated belief in the importance of giving back. This ethos of service not only shapes the academic curriculum but also instills a spirit of responsibility and empowerment in students. Through Spelman’s robust network of mentors, alumni and faculty members, I was able to access invaluable guidance, advice and opportunities as I ventured into the tech industry. Whether it was connecting with alumni who had paved the way in tech or seeking advice from professors with industry experience, I found unwavering support and encouragement every step of the way.

In what ways do you leverage your platform and influence as an HBCU alumna to advocate for diversity and inclusion within the tech industry? Can you share any initiatives or projects you’ve been involved with that promote equity and representation?

I’m all about pushing for diversity and inclusion in tech. Professionally, I serve on the board of the Alliance of Channel Women and chair the DE&I committee. Locally, I’ve served as PTA President and am passionate about getting girls into STEM. I currently serve on our local high school’s Principal Advisory Council, where I focus on ensuring that inclusion and belonging are top of mind for school officials. As a Spelman alumna, I have a unique perspective that I can bring to these areas that helps me to meet students where they are and help shape the trajectory of their education and eventually their careers.

As an accomplished professional in the tech sector, what advice would you give to current HBCU students aspiring to pursue careers in technology?

  • Build a Strong Network and Seek Mentorship: Network with professionals in the tech industry, including alumni from your HBCU and other professionals in your field of interest. Seek out mentors who can provide guidance, advice and support as you navigate your career path in technology. LinkedIn is a great tool to utilize.
  • Build a Diverse Skill Set:While specializing in a specific area of technology is important, it’s also valuable to develop a diverse skill set that encompasses both technical and soft skills.
  • Get Involved in Tech Communities and Projects:Engage with tech communities and projects both within and outside of your school. Consider joining student organizations or clubs focused on technology to network with like-minded individuals and gain exposure to industry trends and opportunities.

About Spelman College

Founding: Spelman College was founded in 1881 as the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary by two teachers from Massachusetts, Sophia B. Packard and Harriet E. Giles. It was later named Spelman Seminary in honor of Laura Spelman Rockefeller and her parents who were prominent abolitionists and supporters of education.

Historically Black College: Spelman College is a private historically black liberal arts college for women located in Atlanta, Georgia. It is part of the Atlanta University Center Consortium, which also includes Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University.

Mission: The college’s mission is to empower women of African descent to engage in the pursuit of education, leadership and social justice.

Accreditation: Spelman College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Spelman College has been ranked as the No. 1 HBCU in the country for 17 consecutive years.

Notable Alumna

Stacey Abrams: Stacey Yvonne Abrams is an American politician, lawyer, voting rights activist and author who served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 2007 to 2017, serving as minority leader from 2011 to 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, Abrams founded Fair Fight Action, an organization to address voter suppression, in 2018. Her efforts have been widely credited with boosting voter turnout in Georgia, including in the 2020 presidential election, when Joe Biden narrowly won the state, and in Georgia’s 2020-21 regularly scheduled and special U.S. Senate elections, which gave Democrats control of the Senate.

Alice Walker: Alice Malsenior Tallulah-Kate Walker is an American novelist, short story writer, poet and social activist. In 1982, she became the first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, which she was awarded for her novel “The Color Purple.” Over the span of her career, Walker has published 17 novels and short story collections, 12 non-fiction works and collections of essays and poetry.

Keshia Knight Pulliam: Keshia Knight Pulliam is an American actress. She began her career as a child actor and landed her breakthrough role as Rudy Huxtable on the NBC sitcom “The Cosby Show” (1984–1992), which earned her a nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in A Comedy Series at the 38th Primetime Emmy Awards. She later starred as Miranda Lucas-Payne on the TBS comedy drama Tyler Perry’s House of Payne (2007–present).

Bernice King: Bernice Albertine King is an American lawyer, minister and the youngest child of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King. She was five years old when her father was assassinated. In her adolescence, King chose to work towards becoming a minister after having a breakdown from watching a documentary about her father. King was 17 when she was invited to speak at the United Nations. Twenty years after her father was assassinated, she preached her trial sermon, inspired by her parents’ activism.

Marian Wright Edelman: Marian Wright Edelman is an American activist for civil rights and children’s rights. She is the founder and president emerita of the Children’s Defense Fund. She influenced leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr.

Audrey Forbes Manley: Audrey Forbes Manley is an American pediatrician and public health administrator. Manley was the first African American woman appointed as chief resident at Cook County Children’s Hospital in Chicago (1962). Manley was the first to achieve the rank of Assistant Surgeon General (Rear Admiral) in 1988 and later served as the eighth president of Spelman College.

Rosalind Brewer: Rosalind Brewer is the former CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. She was the very first Black female CEO to lead a Fortune 500 company. Since graduating from Spelman College in 1981 with a degree in chemistry, Brewer has continuously been a trailblazer in every role she has served in. While working as a chemist at Kimberly-Clark Corp for 22 years, Brewer rose and became the vice president of the corporation’s Global Nonwovens Sector in 2004 and later COO of Starbucks.

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