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LHU News

Price Auditorium Hosts Black History Month Alumni Panel

Black History Month Alumni Panel

Pictured left to right: Albert Jones '99 (Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer), Kenny Hall '94 (Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion), Philip Overton '72 (Panelist), Samuel Vaughn '72 (Panelist), Daniel Elby '71 (Panelist), and Ed Wright '71(Panelist).

Four alumni participated in a panel discussion in celebration of Black History Month on Wednesday, Feb. 15. The alumni panelists shared their experiences at The Haven, discussed the effect LHU had on their professional careers, and provided advice for students.

The alumni panel was organized with the support of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, led by Kenny Hall '94, as well as the Robert and Dolores Lynch Multicultural Resource Center, led by Mia Swales '19. Fellow Lock Haven alumnus, Albert Jones '99, moderated the panel. During the discussion, the four Haven alumni provided insights to broaden students’ horizons.

Wright (Harrisburg, Pa.) graduated from Lock Haven State College in 1971 with a degree in Elementary Education. Upon graduating from LHU, he pursued a career in education. He began as an elementary teacher, then became a principal. At the time of his retirement, he held the position of Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction. During his time at The Haven, he played football and basketball. 

Vaughn (Mt. Union, Pa.) graduated from Lock Haven State College in 1972, also with a degree in Elementary Education. After receiving his degree, Vaughn pursued teaching for thirty-two years before retiring. During his time teaching in the Allentown School District, he coached basketball and football; Vaughn himself played basketball and football for The Haven. Vaughn believes that LHU helped mold him into a successful educator.

Elby (Harrisburg, Pa.) graduated from Lock Haven State College in 1971. Elby’s greatest inspiration throughout his time at LHU and his professional endeavors is his family. During his years at The Haven, he played football, but most importantly he established a mission to create a support system for the underrepresented minority students pursuing higher education. In 1970, he established LHU’s Black Student Union. Later, in his professional life, Elby founded Alternative Rehabilitation Communities, a youth social rehabilitation program. In 2013, Elby was inducted into the LHU Business Hall of Fame. He also served as the Chair of the Council of Trustees for Lock Haven University and is currently serving as a member of the Commonwealth’s Council of Trustees.

Overton (Harrisburg, Pa.) graduated from Lock Haven State College in 1972 with a degree in Psychology. Overton has had success in a variety of fields thanks to his education at LHU. Upon graduating, he returned to his hometown and began his professional career at the Harrisburg State Hospital. Overton later worked in the Governor's Office of Administration, his responsibilities included administrating, interpreting, and negotiating agreements for the Commonwealth. His success led him to a career with the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission where he was responsible for the Labor Relations program and became a State Mediator with the Department of Labor and Industry. Overton played football at LHU during his college years.

The alumni strongly agree that LHU had an immense effect on their lives and their sense of community. Their experiences at LHU paved the way for their professional careers.

"Without Lock Haven, there would be a void in my life," said Vaughn.

The alumni panelists succeeded at The Haven due to the small class size offered at LHU. They believe that the closeness of the campus allows for increased interaction between students, staff members, and community members. Lock Haven's small-town charm, valuable education, and top-notch athletic facilities enticed the alumni to attend The Haven. Many of the panelists' personal relationships that were forged in their years pursuing education at LHU still exist to this day.

When the panelists were students at LHU in the 1970s, there were very few minority students on campus. According to Overton, there was also a lot of racial unrest during that time.

The group knew they needed to lead the way for future diversity and inclusion. As students, they were held to a high academic standard. The change-making alumni learned to succeed through hard work and independence. They relied on each other and their allies, in turn building a support system for the minority students who came after them. To this day, the alumni panelists aim to mentor and guide the students who follow in their footsteps.

With years of education and professional experience, the alumni panelists wish to pay forward advice to the current and future students of LHU.  Elby advised students to promote relationships with the others around them, as he strongly believes that relationships matter, and Wright discussed the increased support systems now available for students at The Haven, and he urged students to take advantage of the resources at The Haven available to them. Overton highlighted how learning to deal with people was one of the most valuable lessons he learned while attending LHU. His advice for students: "Learn to love everyone, regardless of what they do."

The consensus among the panelists is that the successes in their careers and lives stem from their experiences at Lock Haven University. The panelists also promoted the power of a college degree and stressed the value of the education students receive at The Haven.

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