Culverhouse African American Alumni Network hosts conference

Maven Navarro, Staff Reporter

The Culverhouse African American Alumni Network hosted a Student Development Conference on Friday, Feb. 24. The event featured an alumni luncheon, organization fair with businesses such as Aldi and Sherwin-WIlliams, and several sessions including honoree presentations and remarks.  

The alumni recognition luncheon occurred right before the speakers presented their sessions. There, notable CAAAN alumni were highlighted and celebrated.  

Tickets to the luncheon and conference were $100, but UA students were able to purchase tickets to just the conference sessions to hear speakers for $25.  

Speakers were eager to share their success stories and how they were able to persevere through their own struggles at the University to around 100 students who attended the conference. 

Honorees included Terry Points Boney, the University’s first Black Homecoming Queen, Michael Jones, the first Black student to major in finance and to complete a dual J.D./business degree at the University, and Ralph Stokes, vice president of PGA Tour Superstore and among the University’s first group of Black football players.  

When asked about their experiences in Culverhouse, each honoree had a unique experience to share.  

When I started, I was the first Black running back the University ever signed and the first Black running back Paul Bryant ever recruited,” Stokes said.  “When I got to campus, I wanted to come to the business school. I was told by the athletic department that I could not come to the business school. I was told I had to major in physical education or social work. They were afraid I was going to fail. I had an academic scholarship offer from Ivy League schools. I knew I could compete.” 

Boney also said she felt misjudged when she started in the workplace, stating that she was underestimated.  

“I have had a lot of positions where I was the first. I would be the first woman, the first Black, or the first Black woman,” Boney said.  “I wasn’t greeted in these positions with enthusiasm and I was not expected to succeed, but I did. I knew they didn’t want me there, but I knew that I could do it. I persevered, and it made me successful in all of the endeavors that I entered into.” 

Jones agreed that perseverance was important, and added some other tips for students who may be struggling to find their place not only at the University, but also in life.  

“Persistence and perseverance is critical, but even higher than that is faith,” Jones said. “You can know you have people praying for you. You have a village. You walk in faith. You try to stay the course of the process and everyday go forward.” 

Stokes also shared with students some advice he learned from coach Bryant as a player in 1975.  

“Standing on the podium is one thing, but doing the work to get there is another,” Stokes said.  “Winners make commitment, but others make promises. Promises are conditional. Everyone wants to win, but only some are willing to do what it takes to win. When you make a goal, you make a commitment. In life you will have adversity, but be comfortable with” 

For more photos from the event, view the gallery.