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  • My Degree Is Black

Tonesia Vaughn | Langston | '09

Welcome to the MDIB Yard Tonesia Vaughn!

Reppin': Langston University

Grad: 2006

Major: Psychology

Occupation: Therapist | Entrepreneur

Can you briefly walk us through your HBCU story? How it started, how you got there, and how it helped you get to where you are today.

I use to watch a lot of Black TV shows as a child. Two of my favs were the "Cosby Show" and "A Different World!" Those two shows inspired my life in so many ways especially to attend an HBCU. Those shows were the only shows back then highlighting the black college life experience & success! I was very influenced by that. My immediate family had never been to an HBCU, so I was fortunate to be the first in my family to go! Once I got to Langston I can honestly say my life changed tremendously! It was nothing like the TV show… Lol! However, it was 10x better, obviously realistic, and quite the experience! I had never seen so many Black educated & successful people in one place and that alone was inspiring.

How did your HBCU shape you and impact your understanding of Black Culture?

My advisor was a Black woman, who happened to be a therapist. She was dope ok!! I mean literally everything! She took me under her wing, and showed me the way! She kept me focused and more importantly, held me accountable when I would slack or fall off! She is part of the reason why I’m a therapist today. My understanding of Black culture and the significance of who we are as a people definitely deepened from attending an HBCU! Learning our history, understanding our legacy, and the power of self-love was a driving force that Langston taught me.

Before we go any further, let's have a brag session! Tell us about your HBCU(s). What are y'all known for? What are the most exciting things about the yard?

Langston is literally in the middle of the map! The heart of Oklahoma! We are known for having a bomb band, and a great football team, and we often get mistaken for the “fake LU” Lincoln University! Lol! Just kidding, it’s all love! But we are definitely the real LU and we can stand on that!

What do you say to people who believe HBCUs are not as good as Predominantly White Institutions (PWI)?

It really makes me sad when I hear statements like that. Because it’s clear that that person has no understanding of what an HBCU is. I let them sit in their ignorance, but also share my experience and how amazing it was. My goal is not to change their mind, however, if you’ve never truly experienced something, you have to give grace to the ignorant. I can honestly say I’ve never met a person that attended an HBCU ever say they regretted it, but I’ve encountered a number of black people who didn’t attend one and choose other universities who always say… not attending one was their biggest regret!! That speaks volumes!


Tell us what you wish everyone in the world knew about the HBCU experience.

I wish someone would have told me just to slow down and enjoy the moment. I feel like my HBCU experience went so fast. I think about it often and truly miss it a lot, so how do I know the impact and how powerful things would turn out and be for me? I definitely would have slowed down enjoyed the moment, and maximized every opportunity that was given to me.

Tell us about your most memorable HBCU experiences. (Yes we in yo business, tell us about all of 'em!)

Honestly, I have so many I really can’t just say one. But what I will say, is that at an HBCU you can definitely bank on finding lifelong friends. I have a set of friends from college and honestly, we are still locked in like we were from day one. A funny backstory to one of my friends, in particular. We actually had a fight! Lol! I’m not gonna let you get into all of my business, however, me and one of my besties got into a real-life fight before we actually knew each other. We ended up being a part of the Ms. Jabberwock pageant, led by the Deltas. We were having practice one day and joking about this party that we attended a few weeks prior! We were both talking about how we were fighting with these girls that we didn’t know. We instantly stopped mid-convo and burst into laughter, because we were the “Girls Fighting"! We hugged it out, and immediately she became one of my best friends through that pageant experience, and we are still best friends to this day!

Was it like Hillman on "A Different World"?

Yes! My HBCU experience was very similar to Hillman. I feel like college is where you meet your forever friends, sometimes your forever love! You meet professors that look like you, who genuinely want to see you win & succeed so they become like family to you! And like every HBCU you have your campus hangout spots, and our campus parties were top-tier!

As any alumni will tell you, HBCUs are nurturing environments. What person(s) during your HBCU experience deserves some flowers and recognition?

My college professor/mentor/ advisor Dr. Montgomery was my saving grace! She put me on game from day one! She saw something in me, that I didn’t know existed & nurtured & believed in it for me! She was tough on me, but in a loving way that made me feel like she had my back!! Like I said before she’s the reason I’m a therapist today and deserves her flowers! I love her dearly!

How are you using what you learned from them in your everyday life?

I have a niece who’s currently at Langston, so I give her the support and love that was given to me often! I also have Goddaughters, nieces, and even my own daughter that I’m grooming… Lol! To help them see that an HBCU isn’t the only way to go, but the BEST way to go!

Thank you for showing us Your Yard and telling us Your Experience. Before you go, tell us, what do you imagine for the future of HBCUs?

My prayer is that we keep our institutions alive! As an alumna, I support & give as much and as often as I can! The next generation deserves to have HBCUs around!

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