Youth Villages stories

Historically Black Colleges and Universities Produce Generations of Leaders in the Mental Health Space

Feb 23, 2024 | Blog

Youth Villages is a leader in the mental health space for children and families. The driving force behind our impact is the passionate and determined staff who come from all over with a shared mission to help children, young adults and their families live successfully. 

For Black History Month, Youth Villages is shining a light on Historically Black Colleges and Universities that have produced the wonderful leaders we see in this space today.

We have great representation of HBCUs right here at Youth Villages, with more than 328 staff graduating from over 40 HBCUs. If you were to ask, you’d hear many different reasons why they chose to attend. For some, it’s a legacy. Many Black families have a long history of members attending HBCUs. For some, it feels like “home.” Creating a safe space where students feel they can thrive on an educational, personal and even spiritual level. Young people of color finding their home away from home: 

I chose to go to an HBCU because when I went to tour the campus, it felt like home, and I never felt that in any of my schooling prior.

Jasmine Dulin, Asheville Wraparound Supervisor – Virginia Union University [Richmond, VA]

HBCUs are mainly in the South, but this rich legacy expands as far north as Ohio and Pennsylvania. If you were to ask one about their experience, they will tell you there is something special about campus culture. The sounds of horns and drums from the marching band, the stomps and steps of Black Greek lettered organizations on the yard, homecoming season, or just bonding with your friends in the cafeteria or student union. 

[Albany] is truly where I grew to be a man. Nothing came easy, and it’s where I found the drive I have today. I truly only had myself for a long time and I could not let myself down or fail. I wanted to succeed as much as I wanted to breathe. I even joined the greatest fraternity known to man, Omega Psi Phi. 

Khalil Morris, Inner Harbour Counselor – Albany State University [Albany, GA]

When attending an HBCU, the world becomes your classroom. Many will tell you the level of care you get from your professors, peers and administration is on another level that you won’t find anywhere else.  

All of the professors I encountered felt familiar, like family. Like that aunt or uncle who really wants you to succeed so they push you, they challenge you, they hold you accountable.

Lacey Jackson, Regional Representative – Albany State University [Albany, GA]

It’s this kind of support and push that prepares fellow staff to endure the challenges of working in the mental health field. HBCU alums develop an unfiltered passion from their years at school and bring that same passion to their roles here at Youth Villages. 

“Youth Villages has given me the opportunity to utilize my education and experience to impact youth and young adults on various levels. Seeing the impact my co-workers and I have on the youth and families are rewarding and I couldn’t imagine doing it anywhere else!” 

Carla Baskin, LifeSet Clinical Supervisor – Jackson State University [Jackson, MS]

Some staff even feel a connection between their experiences at their HBCU and working for the organization: 

“With Youth Villages, it’s like I’ve found my place of belonging again and it’s another place to grow continuously just like Albany State University did for me. I even see a couple familiar faces on [the Inner Harbour] campus now and it brings that feeling of home.” 

Khalil Morris, Inner Harbour Counselor – Albany State University [Albany, GA]

I have connected what I learned at Thee Clark Atlanta University to what I do in a campus leadership role. I now understand that even though someone may encounter a struggle or challenge, it should not limit their commitment to making changes to be the best version of themselves to impact of the future of our children and families.  

Jasmine Harden, Inner Harbour Clinical Assistant Director – Clark Atlanta University [Atlanta, GA]

“At Youth Villages, I found my voice like I did in school. I blossomed into a fearless leader over the years and am now pushing my kiddos to find the leader in themselves.” 

Bria Anderson, Inner Harbour Therapist – Savannah State University [Savannah, GA]

These institutions have been at the forefront for providing higher education for students of color for centuries, dating back to the early 1800s. In 2024, they still serve as prominent spaces for future generations for anyone seeking higher education. 

“HBCUs’ impact the community by showing others that quality education can come from an HBCU. We come with awareness of what the real world is like and how we are viewed. In the workforce, we bring culture like no other, and we represent and show up for our school.” 

Kathy McDougal, LifeSet Clinical Supervisor – Mississippi Valley State University [Itta Benna, MS]

HBCU pride runs deep for many generations of students who have come through. There are many HBCUs represented throughout Youth Villages. Small ones, large ones, and everything in-between. All producing great leaders and stewards of the communities we serve. 

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