With much support and encouragement, Angela L. Walker Franklin, Ph.D., journeyed down a path that was beyond her expectations. Despite challenges of self-doubt and trepidation, she has been able to overcome and achieve success in life and her career.
After obtaining her undergraduate degree in psychology and a doctoral degree in clinical psychology, Dr. Franklin worked her way up to her current position as DMU president and chief executive officer, making her the first woman and African-American to hold these titles.
“I realized there was a bigger purpose and I realized that there was a much greater power ordering my steps,” Franklin says. “My journey to being president of a university became more of my calling than a career.”
In her new inspirational book, An Unconventional Journey….. An Unlikely Choice, published by WestBow Press, President Franklin shares her unexpected journey and the lessons she learned about leadership that define her approach today. By breaking her leadership foundation into 12 lessons, she helps readers develop their own leadership styles and find the purpose-driven paths of life that suit their needs.
“Along my journey, I had experiences that shaped the lessons I learned that come close to servant leadership, but with the underpinning of a simply stated Golden Rule — treat people with respect and the way one would want to be treated.”
Her life’s journey took her from her childhood in still-segregated McCormick, SC, as the daughter of Hervey Wesley Walker Jr., a mortician, and Leola Marian Grant Walker, an elementary school teacher. While the 1954 case Brown v. Board of Education mandated the end of school segregation more than a decade before she began school, “there clearly were remnants of the Jim Crow South” in the community, she wrote in the book. In fact, President Franklin and her sister, Maria, were the first students to integrate McCormick Elementary School in 1969. She tells in the book:
“Education is the way”
My parents had been approached with the idea of having my sister and me to be the first to integrate McCormick Elementary School. Although initially concerned about the difficulty we may face, they decided to move forward and enroll us there in 1969. So I began my 4th grade year as the only black student in my class. My sister, in 7th grade, was one of two black students.
I have vivid memories of being the only person of color in my 4th grade class. The experience of moving from the all-black school to the all-white school was a bit uncomfortable initially, but I quickly adjusted. I recall it being very important for my parents, however, to make sure we continued to be straight A students. It was as if there was a need to validate to the public that we were actually “smart” and our grades were not just given because of who we were…
After graduating from high school I entered Furman University, a place I had come to love from spending many summers there. Again, I was back in the role of being one of very few black students just as I had been in 4th grade. Little did I know at the time, I actually was creating a foundation that would prepare me for working in ANY environment. What comes with that is an ability to be comfortable dealing with the unknown and having to demonstrate value, credibility and worthiness sometimes when those around you think otherwise.
It requires developing a thick skin and an ability to endure sometimes when all odds are against you. It also makes you deal with the reality that some people out there are hoping you would fail. This reality helped me to be prepared and persevere even when the support was not there.
President Franklin hopes to inspire others with her purpose-driven path and encourage positive leadership skills. To purchase the book, read her accompanying blog and learn more about her journey, visit www.unconventionaljourney.com.