History’s lessons can offer reflection

By Jamil Oakford/managing editor

Black History Month

Second in a series highlighting black leaders at TCC


It’s not about whether one encounters difficulties in life, it’s all about how one chooses to face them, TR Campus president Sean Madison said.

Madison, a Morehouse College graduate, said facing adversity is a side effect of a purposeful life.

“I believe that anyone who is on a mission to achieve any degree of greatness will find themselves having to overcome challenges, face adversity, encounter setbacks and roadblocks,” he said.

While Madison said he has had his fair share of challenges, he believes two parts of his life kept him focused on his goal through it all.

“I have interfaced with strong, positive influences who kept me on track,” he said. “I also believe that my faith has helped me manage or overcome challenges.”

On his road to becoming an educator, Madison said he was convinced plenty of times he was destined for a different calling that would ensure he made a good living.

He wanted to be an attorney.

After graduating Boston University with a master’s in English and education, he was convinced he would be an attorney and not a teacher, he said.

“I had planned to teach three years while I studied for the LSAT, but there again, destiny intervened, this time solidifying my plans,” Madison said.

It was Madison’s time at Miami Dade community college in Florida when he said he was ultimately influenced that he would stick to being an educator rather than pursue law school.

While working with students considered as “underprivileged,” he found he enjoyed the connections he could make and the impact he could have in helping them reach their goals, he said.

“I realized that I could help any student realize her or his dream if I pursued a career as a professor,” he said.

He described that getting the chance to work with students and really impact their lives has been a crowning achievement.

“Over the years, I have worked with thousands of students, most of whom go on to transfer or graduate,” Madison said. “I am especially proud when I am able to see how a contribution I have made, or an encouraging word perhaps, positively influenced a student, staff or faculty member to reach a goal.”

It makes his work meaningful and fulfilling, he said.

“The feeling I get from that is something I always remember,” Madison said. “It fuels my passion and gets me excited to get up each day and keep doing what I do.”

That passion may be contagious.

“What I admire about him personally is he’s a straight shooter,” said Carter Bedford, TR student development services director. “He tells you what he’s thinking, what he expects. I appreciate that.”

Bedford, who joined TR about a year after Madison, said Madison established a vision for the campus early on.

“My joy has been trying to work toward that vision,” he said.

As to whether race or other circumstances out of his control has ever hindered or empowered him, Madison said he’s tried to focus on the positives and developing himself as a human being.

“I embrace everything about who I am — what you see and don’t see — and for that, I am positioned to walk this Earth with purpose,” he said.

As Black History Month events are offered at  each campus, Madison hopes they will help students understand African-American history.

“Self-discovery, reflection and a call to action create space for us to dialogue and collaborate as an American people from various cultural walks of life,” Madison said. “That’s the beauty and the power of diversity.”