By Dominique Mack
Patricia Green-Powell, Ph.D. has dedicated her life to mentoring students and promoting the importance of higher education.
She is currently the associate dean for Student Affairs and a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU). Recently Powell became the latest recipient of one of highest honors presented by the National Association of Student Affairs Professionals (NASAP).
She received the Sadie M. Yancey Professional Service Award on Feb. 20 at this year’s NASAP’s 62nd Annual Conference in Houston, Texas. Named after Sadie M. Yancey, the founder of NASAP, the award recognizes outstanding service and contributions in the field of student affairs.
Rose Hill-Wilson, a chairman on the organization’s awards committee, explained that Powell’s lifelong service to higher education exemplifies a true professional in student affairs.
“The Sadie M. Yancey Award is presented annually to one whose life’s work in student affairs has extraordinary and exemplary status,” Wilson said.
Founded in 1954, NASAP is the only organization in the country dedicated to professionals in the field of student affairs who serve at historically black colleges and universities as well as other institutions that cater to diversity.
Nominations for the award are cast by various NASAP members. The winner is then selected by NASAP’s president Marcus Chanay, Ph.D. and members of the awards committee.
“Nominations come to the committee. There is an application completed by the person making the nomination; the curriculum vitae and letter of recommendation are also required. As with all candidates for all awards, these pieces are standard and carefully reviewed and decisions made based on the complete files.”
Powell said that the award came to her as a “surprise” and that she was truly honored for the recognition. After doing further research on Yancey, Powell said she became even more thankful for the opportunity.
“What made the award so spectacular was just knowing her background and accomplishments.”
In 1953, at the time she founded the NASAP, Sadie Yancey was also a founding member of the National Association of Personnel Workers (NAPW). She also served as the dean of women and a psychology professor at FAMU. Yancey later became the dean of women at Howard University in Washington, D.C. and inspired a nation of student affairs professionals of color.
“She was truly a remarkable woman and looking at her journey I kept thinking, ‘Wow, I’m thought of in the same vein as her pretty much.’ Getting an award that’s named after her was spectacular.” Powell said.
Powell began her journey at FAMU with a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology and audiology. She later received her master’s and a doctorate in educational administration/leadership from Florida State University.
Her humble beginnings within a family of siblings who desired to be educators is what inspired her to become an educational professional. Growing up poor in rural Gadsden County, Fla., Powell was the youngest of four sisters who all later became teachers. Her mother and father had only an elementary school education, and she knew early on the importance of receiving a good education for herself.
“It was in the family’s blood, and I followed it,” said Powell, and I’m very happy that I did it.”
Soon after college she began working for Leon County public schools as a speech pathologist, serving as a speech and hearing therapist at Florida Health and Rehabilitative Services Sunland Training Center in Tallahassee. She later became the center’s acting director of Learning, where she served clients who were mentally, visually, and physically challenged.
Powell is also the very first African-American woman to be appointed the vice president of Student Affairs at Bainbridge College in Bainbridge, Ga. She served as the college’s vice president for six years before coming to FAMU as the vice president of Student Affairs as well.
Green-Powell has spent the majority of her professional career catering to her students. She says the greatest gift of working in the field of education is not her outcome but the outcome of her students.
“Being able to give back to the students and to see them walk across the stage, that is my goal. That is why I do this.”