Black History Month is a yearly observance in February in recognition of Black history, figures and culture. Tyler Junior College has Black faculty and staff who have made much impact on the campus. Some have participated as local journalists, providing the community with news coverage. Others have overcome personal obstacles and persevered to help others. In celebration of Black History Month, two African American staff members are highlighted.
Interim director of TJC Promise, Augusta Robinson, is a Tyler native and TJC graduate.
He graduated from TJC
in 2012 and continued his
education at The University
of North Texas with a degree
in journalism. According to
Robinson’s LinkedIn, he pursued
journalism serving four years as a
reporter at Tyler Morning Telegraph.
He transitioned to TJC working as an operations
coordinator in 2019. In 2020, Robinson became a TJC Promise Success Coach.
Q: What made you decide to get into the education field or even work as a success coach after years spent toward journalism?
A: “During college, I strongly considered earning a teacher certification in journalism and even took two education-related courses. However, sticking around to earn the certification would have required me to accumulate more debt than I was comfortable with. A few months after completing an internship and graduating, I was offered a full-time reporter position at the Tyler Morning Telegraph. I felt so fortunate to have a job in the field and to be working for my hometown newspaper. The job was fun but could be extremely consuming. You could be covering a local festival or writing a human-interest story during the day and be called back to work to go to a crime scene and report on a shooting later that night. It definitely taught me how to be flexible to meet deadlines and goals. I’d applied to work in different positions at TJC several times over the course of about four years, and in 2019, I finally landed a position in the Scholarships and Advancement office. Six months later I became the Promise’s first success coach.”
Q: What does being a Black staff member and/or even journalist mean to you?
A: “A lot of people were once shut out of higher education because of their race, class, ethnicity, gender, et cetera. So I feel blessed to come from one of those groups to work at an amazing college and to be doing work I’m passionate about. Attending college changed the trajectory of my life, and I feel fortunate to be able to support students as they work toward their educational goals.”
Q: What aspirations do you have in 10 years?
A: “My biggest goal is to always keep pushing myself and growing. I’m currently earning my master’s in higher education. I recently attended my first higher education conference about student success and I’m eager to learn more about ways to support students. No one achieves anything special by staying in their comfort zone.”
Scholarship coordinator and Black Student Association co-adviser, Emily Mass, is also a Tyler native and TJC graduate. As a scholarship coordinator, her job is to implement, direct
and maintain new and existing scholarship
agreements and programs. Mass graduated
from TJC in 2015 with a degree in psychology. She continued her education at Stephen F. Austin State University and graduated in 2020 with her bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work. In middle school, Mass was encouraged to join the Advancement Via Individual Determination Program in high school. AVID is a program provided to students to aid in college and career-readiness. She attributes this program to her pursuit in higher education.
Q: What made you want to pursue social work?
A: “Being that I grew up as an only child, I would always be around my grandmother, parents and other older adults at church. I witnessed how caring they would
be for each other and their community. Furthermore,
I looked forward to spending my Saturday mornings
at the nursing home with my uncle. Ever since then,
it was instilled in me to be an advocate for others
and have a servitude mentality. Above all else, that is what motivated me to pursue social work. There’s so many people of all ages, from different socioeconomic backgrounds that need someone in their corner to advocate on their behalf and put their well-being at the forefront of all decision-making.”
Q: What led you to work at TJC?
A: “In May of 2020, after I received my master’s, I began to apply for various jobs. I saw the posting at TJC and
it immediately became my first priority. TJC is where I began to develop as a professional. The faculty and staff ensured that I was successful in every area of my life. I knew that once I obtained my education, I would want to pour back into my community through TJC.”
Q: Why do you think it’s important for you to serve as a
A: “It’s important for me to take on this position as co- adviser, because I was once a
student of the TJC BSA. I was in need of professional and
personal development as well as enrichment. Being in this position
has afforded me the privilege to be an advocate, outlet, liaison and mentor for my students.
Though the journey of academia is full of detours, my students understand they don’t have to be on it alone.”
Q: What does it mean to you to be a black staff member at TJC?
A: “I get so emotional when I think of my journey, especially when I think of my grandmother. She implemented generational perseverance and faith. Though she could not obtain higher than a middle school degree, she ensured that I finished my college degree. There are so many individuals who have fought to ensure we have the many freedoms we have today. When I prepare for my day, I keep that in mind. I also strive to be a role-model. I let all of my students know that if I can do it, they can too.
Q: What aspirations do you have in 10 years?
A: “Within 10 years, I plan to continue to pursue my career in education. I cannot express the genuine joy
I have in working with students. I enjoy walking the campus and having students run up to me, eager to tell me about their day and how they aced a test in their chemistry class. I know that I have tapped into my purpose.”
Quotes have been lightly edited for clarity.