Student Tells Regents Southeast Has Charted Her Course


Shaquira Blackman

Southeast Missouri State University junior Shaquira Blackman of St. Louis, Missouri, told the Southeast Board of Regents today that the personal support and caring community at Southeast have helped her to discover her career path and instill self-confidence.

Blackman, a corporate communication major with double minors in management and human resource management, transferred to Southeast mid-way through her freshman year. She wanted to be closer to home, and friends at the University recommended Southeast, telling her about the diverse campus, numerous student support systems and organizations, and distinctive academic programs.

But when she first arrived at Southeast, she struggled with self-doubt and depression, Blackman said.

“I was a typical lost college student that couldn’t find her way,” she said.

However, she felt surrounded by positive faculty, staff and students who encouraged her every day – in the classroom, in her residence hall and across campus, Blackman said.

To help her find a major that suited her interests and passions, faculty and friends suggested she connect with Southeast’s Career Services.

“They helped me figure out who I am and what I like to do,” she said. “When Career Services introduced me to the corporate communication major, I thought, ‘Yes, this is it!’”

Members of the Black Student Union with Southeast President Carlos Vargas and his wife Pam Vargas.

Having a new career pathway helped her to chart an academic plan that felt in step with what she wanted to do and who she wanted to be, Blackman said. The Department of Communications and Modern Languages felt like home.

“They welcomed me with open arms, and my professors were more than happy to help me with anything I needed,” she said.

Her faculty advisor, Dr. Paul Madlock, assistant professor of communication studies, and Jeanne Harris, instructor of communication studies, have become the two most influential people of her educational experience at Southeast, Blackman said.

“Dr. Madlock treats his students like the adults they are. He has humor, but when it is time to be serious and get things done, he is always by his students’ side,” she said. “Mrs. Harris is a vibrant and caring soul. Everyone should meet someone like her. She was one of my favorite professors, and I always looked forward to her classes.”

Both Madlock and Harris have been instrumental in providing Blackman the personal and academic support she’s needed to be successful in and out of the classroom. With their encouragement and guidance, she has flourished, joining the National Society of Leadership and Success and Lambda Pi Eta National Honors Communication Society.

Jeanne Harris, left, instructor of communication studies, and Shaquira Blackman

“I believe every college student deserves professors like that,” she said.

Southeast’s range or student organizations allowed her to explore her personal interests and connect with other students.

“Southeast has many different opportunities to get to know other people and make students want to be involved,” she said.

Campus involvement and meeting new friends who were supportive were important to her personal growth and health, including joining and becoming secretary of the Black Student Union, she said.

“The African American community and students at Southeast are friendly and inspiring,” she said. “I met people who I was completely different from but still thought were great.”

Blackman was recently elected vice president of the Black Student Union for the 2019-2020 academic year, and she’s looking forward to her new leadership role and inspiring others.

“I hope to make the Black Student Union prosper and to open the doors for more members so they can have the experiences I’ve had,” she said.

Blackman said Southeast provides outstanding facilities, programs and campus experiences that together have offered her a great educational experience and will prepare her for the future.

Transferring to Southeast was hard but was the best decision for her academic and personal journey, she said.

“When I first came to Southeast, I felt extremely alone,” she said. “It took a lot of writing, thinking and counseling to get to where I am today. It was all new for me. The young woman I am today grew from the confused student I was two years ago. I am grateful and happy that I have come so far.”