Meet Roslyn Clark Artis- President & CEO at Benedict College, based in the United States
Roslyn identifies herself as a daughter, mother, wife, sister, friend, mentor, lawyer, leader, thinker, dreamer, writer, and, above all else, an HBCU President and equity advocate.
She spent her childhood in Southern West Virginia – a 3% minority state. As the product of a mixed-race union, and working poor family in a racially homogenous environment, she grew up in a loving, though uncertain environment, that gave birth to her sometimes superhuman resilience that often masked deep fear and insecurity.
Her life got transferred after attending an HBCU- “It was not a place where I was able to express my culture; it was the place that taught me my culture. It gave me confidence; challenged my insecurities and inspired my dreams. It prepared me for law school and my life’s robust practise before embarking on a higher education career. It gave me the courage and the resilience to shift gears, accept a new challenge and make a change mid-career,” she says. She believes that one must approach life’s challenges with excellence and grace.
Benedict College is a dynamic, transformative learning environment that recognizes and supports vulnerable, though valuable populations, honours learner differences, and amplifies student passion and promise. The students here are overwhelmingly low wealth, first-generation children of colour. Here, Roslyn rejects the language of lack and the deficit mindset- she seeks to unearth the brilliance and talent of each individual student.
Her early career challenges included being an African American woman in a profession dominated by white males which remain even today- she is still an African American woman in a profession dominated by white males- which is worrisome.
About her students, she says: “My students are receptive; my faculty are inspired; my staff are committed; my alumni are engaged; my community is excited and my trustees are satisfied.”
This motivation drives her to work harder in the endless, bottomless, pursuit of excellence while allowing her the grace to stumble and fall and affording the grace to extend to others when their imperfections become apparent.
Her mantra for life is: You. Are. Enough.
She believes that every woman must become a SHE E.O – a sister who handles everything with excellence and optimism. “Don’t feel obligated to offer a justification, explanation or apology. Exercise good judgment, work diligently and exhibit strong leadership. You don’t owe the world your personal life, your peace or your joy. You owe integrity, grace and love. Don’t allow anyone to overcharge you. You are equipped; you are prepared and you are enough!” she says.