Grambling was a mecca for all things cultural and educational during the ’70s. James Brown, The Harlem Boys Choir, Isley Brothers, Temptations, Nancy Wilson and Count Bassey, all gave classic performances at the Mens Gym.
Eddie Robinson, an iconic head coach, who won black college football national championships in 1972, 1974, 1975 and 1977.
The afro, a hairstyle that left its mark on the fabric of not only America, but African-Americans, Grambling culture in particular.
It was all about freedom and being natural. There was plenty of talk about free love, freedom of expression, and freedom to be whoever you wanted to be.
But because of Carolyn Collier’s life-long love of Grambling and growing up in the shadows of the university, it seemed natural for her to attend Grambling and be a small part of its history. And it was.
She was the first Miss Grambling to be from Grambling for our esteemed and prestigious school as it was then and as it is now.
“It was a great honor,” said Collier, interim director of retention/first year experience.
“I’m very pleased to be in the list of successful women.”
Her major was sociology, and it was during the Kennedy/Johnson years when their theme was “The Great Society”. It meant this was a time when all people would prosper financially, socially, culturally and academically.
“There were many social programs being established and I wanted to be part of the change,” she said, referring to the universities unrest, along with segregation or desegregation post ’60s.
“It was a ripple effect, but luckily we kept it under control and made changes.”
A change Collier has seen for over 40 years right before her eyes. She’s watched five presidents serve from 1977 to 2001: Dr. Joseph Benjamin Johnson, Dr. Harold W. Lundy, Dr. Raymond Hicks, Dr. Leonard Haynes III and Dr. Steve A. Favors. But today’ present change, money can’t buy. Her job is to always get more students to be committed learners who can and will succeed. Helping students daily is a task Collier is passionate about, but wants her next job to be in development.
“I would like to be a part of re-establishing that tradition of pride in the university that we all shared,” she said with a serious face in her office in Brown Hall.
This is the first time Collier has spoken publicly about it. In fact, Collier is putting her bid in for a future position now. (Sidenote: I’m thinking I could maybe get kudos points if it were to happen.)
“It’s all about making people feel comfortable.”
Feeling comfortable are two words that haven’t visited Grambling this semester. However, she is comfortable with current Miss GSU Ambra Brice.
Despite the present changes, good or bad, depending whom you ask, Collier says Brice is doing an outstanding job remaining positive.
“Always be beautiful in thought, word and deed. Remember you are the ambassadress for this great university.”
Ambassadress, a conception Collier has been representing for almost 40 years. She’s held a range of positions at GSU starting with Human Resources, Student Affairs and Development. To let her tell it, she learned to be an Ambassadress from her mother and family.
Her family has a long history with Grambling College and Grambling State University. Her parents, Clarence and Earnestine Douglas, were employed by GSU and have endowed memorial scholarships in their names.
Her mother was a graduate of Grambling and was an educator for more than 30 years.
Collier’s children, Tiffani, 00′ alum, a chemistry major, a Thurgood Marshall Scholar and Presidential scholar. Brandon, 02′ alum, M.A. 03′, was part of three GSU football championship teams and also was a Coca Cola Academic all-American for two years.
“I have numerous relatives that have graduated and gone on to be very successful in their respective areas.”
Her brother graduated from Grambling along with his wife and two children. His daughter Brea, is a Mass Communication graduate and was an on-air personality on KGRM prior to graduation as was his son, Brenton Douglas, who’s currently here at the University majoring in psychology.
“Four generations have passed through these doors via hard work and education.”
“We are all proud Gramblinites.” Pledging a Greek letter organization was another proud highlight of her life. She’s been a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority for over 40 years (second generation).
“They stood for things that were important,” she said. “It was and is still is a very relevant organization.”
Traveling to all parts of the country gave her the learning opportunity of a lifetime, including meeting so many students of all walks from life.
“I want students to realize that today it just as crucial as it was 40 years ago. They don’t need to take things for granted.”
“My college years were fantastic, but we couldn’t afford to take things for granted back then,” said Collier.
Joyce Evans, KGRM station manager, who was also a classmate of Collier’s in 1974, congratulate’s Collier and others who serve GSU and continue to served GSU.
“I would love for her to be here for another 112 years,” said Evans.
Collier certainly a person who bleeds black and gold. She’s still indeed a great ambassadres for Grambling.