Women helping women live better lives.


•  Empowerment

•  Leadership

Motivational Moments

Like Us On Facebook!


by V. Nona Ogunsula

August 14, 2013
Part I of II

Reflections...30 years ago this summer I had just finished my freshman year at Howard University in Washington, D.C. I made the decision to stay for graduation after finishing my classes and finals instead of flying home to California and that was one of the best decision I ever made. Witnessing graduation and celebrating the few upperclassmen (Stephen J., Pam L., and Kim U.) I knew who were graduating was inspiring and helped me to know that I could really do this too. Howard University's graduation was the first college graduation I had ever attended. Even though I had attended classes and spent time at U.C. Berkeley, seeing people I knew graduate from college helped me picture myself in a cap and gown getting my degree. Their example influenced me.

Once I got home to California, I got a chance to intern in the Legal Department of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan in Oakland. The prior summer I had worked in Nuclear Medicine in the Medical Records department of Kaiser Hospital in Oakland.  There I learned that I did not want to go into Medicine after almost fainting while I observed a catheterization procedure on a 13 or 14 year old child. Too much blood! But, I digress. 

The summer of 1983 afforded me the opportunity to observe the commanding presence of two pioneering black women lawyers who were apart of Kaiser’s legal staff. One of those ladies was Sandra Hicks Cox, sister of the Rev. Dr. Beecher Hicks, pastor of Metropolitan Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. I was in awe of them and their presence and interaction with me helped me to see what was possible. Jim Vohs was the CEO of Kaiser at the time and thanks to his personal outreach to my high school and my high school career teacher/counselor, Mr. Charles L. Franklin, I had a job waiting for me when I got home from college. Now, some 30 years later, Bernard J. Tyson, an African American and the oldest son of a Vallejo, California Pentecostal minister whom my mother worked with in their regional church organization, is now the Chief Executive Officer and the first African American to lead the organization.

After the summer ended, I returned to D.C. to start my sophomore year without a dorm room, which was my usual M.O. (I never got a dorm room or at least got in the dorm where I wanted to stay in the dorm lottery.) After showing up day after day at the Office of Residence Life and begging, pleading, and looking like a castaway to the then formidable Dean of Residence Life, Edna Calhoun, I finally got a room in Howard University's Lucy Diggs Slowe Hall. The highlight of the beginning of my sophomore year was attending the 20th Anniversary of the historic 1963 March On Washington.  A few of us Howard students bought "March" T-Shirts and showed up at the National Mall to listen to the speeches on a hot and muggy Saturday as a way of showing our support and thanks for the Civil Rights movement.
HTML Comment Box is loading comments...
About the author:
Nona is a seasoned leader and marketing professional with experience working in the health care/public health and telecommunications industry supporting federal government and international government customers.  She has worked for public sector and non-profit organizations and a large Fortune 50 telecommunications company managing multi-million dollar programs. A creative problem solver with an entrepreneurial spirit, Nona focuses on delivering results and excels at building consensus among disparate teams.

For more information, go to:
Follow Us On: