Senior Christen Lane enjoys the HBCU experience


Senior Christen Lane considered her service to ASU as a top priority throughout her time as a student. She is a member of the Student Alabama Education Association, Kappa Delta Phi International Honor Society in Education; National Society of Leadership and Success; the Beta Pi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; and a Golden Ambassador, serving as Chief for the 2020-21 year.

Camille Zanders, Alumni Connection Editor

The HBCU experience is a concept that is often mentioned as appreciation for Black culture continues to grow in today’s society. With there being 103 HBCUs nationwide, the most shared attribute is their commitment to service and community outreach. These goals ensure empowerment and advancement for its surrounding Black communities and culture.
Graduating senior Christen Lane has attended ASU in pursuit of this experience, as she understands that this university is a landmark for the region and the Black community nationwide.
“Yeah, HBCUs have their pros and cons but there is nothing like attending one and helping your own people,” she said.
Lane is a native of Smiths Station, Alabama, where she attended Smiths Station High School. As a student, Lane took part in Future Business Leaders of America, Inc. (FBLA), as well as the student council, and the colour guard team where she served as captain during her senior year. As her interests were widespread and demanding, this involvement set the tone for her future filled with extracurricular activities.
Lane graduated high school in 2015, and immediately continued her studies at Southern Union State Community College in Wadley, Alabama.
While at SUSCC she researched her options for further four-year study and career development, which were narrowed to the University of Alabama at Birmingham in Birmingham, Alabama, Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee., and Alabama State University. Though ASU was not her top choice, the Hornets’ nest ensured that her academic well-being was a priority of theirs.
“I do not remember finishing my application to ASU,” Lane said. “However, they did send an acceptance letter. But I chose ASU because I wanted the HBCU experience.”
Initially enrolled as a secondary education major, she holds a passion for expanding young minds. She followed this course of study for a considerable amount of time and was set to complete the degree by 2019. Though she performed well in each of her classes, she found difficulty in completing the required certification exam for secondary education.
Lane adapted to the situation by changing her major to interdisciplinary studies with a minor in history, as it still provides an avenue toward education. She shares that this decision was difficult to make but she appreciates all that has come from her following her faith. Interdisciplinary studies have granted her a wealth of new perspectives and skills, allowing her to be a more well-rounded professional.
“Interdisciplinary studies teaches you how to be interdisciplinary,” she said. “I am the type of person that can jump in anywhere I am needed. I am a jack of all trades. I am glad I went this route because I can do just about anything with this degree.”
The usability of her studies is apparent as she has already found work within her field. As she currently works full-time as a special education instructor for the third through fifth grade students of Brewbaker Elementary, she has a head start on a long and fulfilling career.
Apart from her studies, Lane has considered service to ASU as a top priority throughout her time as a student. She has taken part in the Student Alabama Education Association, where she has served as treasurer; Kappa Delta Phi International Honor Society in Education; National Society of Leadership and Success; the Beta Pi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; and as a Golden Ambassador, serving as Chief for the 2020-21 academic year. She has found that the best way to serve one’s university is through social and organizational involvement as it has the most immediate effect.
Many of Lane’s most memorable moments as a student were offered through her university associations and involvement. She especially remembers her time serving as the Chief Golden Ambassador, which forced her to rise to the occasion of the pandemic with leadership and adaptability.
With the two missions of the Golden Ambassadors being to develop and hone students’ leadership skills and to give back to the community through service and outreach activities, they aligned closely with Lane’s personal values. This position called her to delegate appearances for her constituents, maintain a working schedule of events, account for any conflicts, and more. She assures that all the energy that she put into the program was reciprocated by the university through a surplus of exposure and experience.
“There is nothing like serving your university and president,” she said. “I have been to a lot of events. I have met a lot of people…. Many are called but few are chosen, so I believe that I did everything in my power. I have served my institution very well and I do not think that I left any crumbs behind, honestly.”
As the Golden Ambassador program, and the entire university, continues to recover from the effects of the pandemic, Lane is proud of the recruitment efforts that have taken place for incoming students. She shows a great amount of concern for the lack of college plans and readiness in the surrounding communities and applauds the outreach that ASU has conducted in return.
“I see now that ASU is trying to get back to that O’ Bama State Spirit,” she said. “They are not there just yet, but I know that they are trying to get there.”
Lane has been most positively impacted by Aaron Horton, Ph.D., professor of history, as he has been an endless resource for knowledge and advice. Considering she has chosen history as a minor, his lessons have been extremely productive for her interests and studies.
“He has taught me so much when it comes to writing and research,” she said. “I really appreciate him because it were not for him, I would not write the way that I do now.”
Throughout her time as a student, Lane has learned the significance of remaining resilient despite the situation. As the detours in her academic journey have caused a delay in her graduation, she continues to remind herself that a person’s strength comes as a product of their hardships.
“Most people think that you should just give up because you are a certain age,” she said. “You do not have to follow what statistics may say. It is your journey. Everyone’s journey is very different.”
She refers to Ecclesiastes 9:11 KJV for encouragement, which professes, “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”
This resilience was especially exhibited as Lane dealt with the challenges of the pandemic. During this period of remote occasions, she not only served as the Chief of The Golden Ambassadors but also pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. while balancing school and work. She credits her success during this time to time management, organization, patience, and most importantly, prayer.
“It was a lot for me to lead during the pandemic,” she said. “Then, on top of that, I was a full-time student taking 18 credit hours and was working full time as a nanny… If you do not have [prayer] then it can really kick your butt.”
Lane believes that these tests have allowed her to become a more polished woman. While she has always considered herself a mature and mannerable person, her time at ASU has shown her the mass of respect given when one handles situations and conflicts with poise.
“Now I know to shut my mouth,” she said. “Not saying that my mouth was off the chain before, but some things are better left not said.”
This personal growth has been tested repeatedly as she calls for the improvement of ASU’s advisement staff. Lane claims that many of the advisors she has turned to have not been knowledgeable on the university’s requirements or willing to help. Considering that HBCUs are known for the close-knit nature of their campus, and intimate relationships between students and faculty, it has been discouraging to deal with such uninvested individuals. This hopes that this reform would also call for more frequent review and updating of the course curriculum.
“I know that this has held a lot of students back, especially when it comes to taking courses that they did not need,” she said.
Overall, Lane’s experience as an ASU has lived up to her expectations set as an incoming Hornet. As she hoped for the HBCU experience, not only was her commitment to service and excellence fulfilled, but also the need for fellowship among her peers and community.
“Man, those football games,” she said. “Or, just watching the band, we love to see what the band is playing at halftime. Homecoming is like a sweet sixteen because everyone wants to know what you are wearing to the game. The midnight gala. All of that! You are not going to get that anywhere else.”
After graduating with her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies with concentrations in education and history, Lane will continue her education through Auburn University’s master’s of education in the special education program. Fortunately, she will already have a year of working experience in this field upon the start of her courses. Though she will be moving on, she insists that ASU will remain near and dear to her heart.
Lane advises incoming Hornets to properly research and understand the requirements of their major. Many of ASU’s students choose their studies based on oversimplified interests, but this blind enrollment can quickly lead to wasted time and funds. As she was once in those same shoes, she encourages attending a two-year college to research all of one’s options without making major commitments or breaking the bank. She emphasizes the importance of listening to the guidance of members of your support circle, especially that of your parents. As that guidance has carried her through multiple institutions, extracurriculars, jobs, and courses of study, she is thankful for the stability and support that her community has provided and plans to give back tenfold.