The panel discussion, a part of the university’s celebration of Black History Month,
focused on the role the university played in their respective lives, as well as other areas that led them to their respective positions.
“We’re going to talk a little bit about the nuance dynamics necessary to support one’s journey to success,” said Timothy Rose, Cumberland’s assistant professor of business and program director for master’s in business administration studies.
The panel included Dr. Andre Churchwell, chief diversity officer for Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Cumberland trustee; Gloria Caples, assistant director of marketing for Auburn University’s athletics department; Darryl Taliaferro, executive pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Nashville; Brandi Coates, education assistant for the Frist Center for the Visual Arts; and Ashley Kambeitz, Cumberland junior and Cumberland University International Student Organization president.
Rose questioned the panel about different aspects of their lives, including Cumberland’s influence, when they realized their potential, thoughts on diversity, the blueprint for success and what advice they would give their younger selves.
“The advice I would give my younger self would be to run your own race. I think a lot of times, especially when you’re young in whatever industry you’re in, you’re very ambitious, and a lot of times you look at what other people are doing,” Caples said. “Everybody’s path is different.”
Coates said she would tell her younger self to not get discouraged when things don’t go the way she thought they should.
“I had to reach down in myself and tell myself, ‘It’s OK.’ You’re going to have your dark moments. That gives you a time to reflect, research and development an idea of your next move,” Coates said.
Churchwell reflected on his time as a part of a strategic team at Vanderbilt University that was tasked with determining the keys of the central attributes of college students who wanted to enter the medical school and be leaders.
He said the group discovered certain attributes, including curiosity, passion and high energy – similar to Cumberland president Paul Stumb, according to Churchwell – and resilience.
“You learn more from failure than you do from success, but you must be strong enough within your own personal psyche to be able to handle that and put it in a place where you can use that as a tool moving forward,” Churchwell said.
“I would say to my younger self, ‘While preparing for the future, don’t forget to live in the moment,’” Taliaferro said. “It’s important that in your planning that you still pause and say, ‘Lord, thank God for this day,’ because once today is gone – once people that were in today leave, you can’t get them back.”
Kambeitz, of Canada, said she would give her younger self advice about not dreaming too small.
“What I would say to my younger self would just not to have a glass ceiling for myself – not to see in any way that I can’t do this, I can’t succumb this or I can’t make it past this barrier,” she said.
Taliaferro, who deals with college students daily in his role at Mt. Zion, shared his approach to talking to people who want to give up on their mission.
“I always tell people that though it may seem difficult now, what you’re going through is, what I mentioned, only a temporary inconvenience. It wont be like this always,” he said. “Basically, I encourage them to look at the ‘why.’ Why are you here? What did you come Florida, Canada, Indiana to do? Has that ‘why’ changed? If it did not change, then why are you giving up now?”