‘Wildcat Wisdom Series’ Introduces Albion College Students to Successful Albion High School Graduates

February 11, 2022

Wildcat Wisdom Series, Tuesday, Feb 15

Wildcat Wisdom Series virtual events featured graduates of Albion High School each Tuesday during Black History Month.

(updated February 28, 2022)

By Ariel Berry

As soon as Sharese Shannon Mathis, assistant dean for campus life, heard about the Wildcat Wisdom Series, she knew it needed to be included on Albion College’s Black History Month calendar.

The Zoom series featured Black graduates of Albion High School (whose athletic teams were the Wildcats) who attribute their success to the school and to the City of Albion. A virtual panel discussion took place each Tuesday during the month of February. 

Mathis realized this series would be beneficial to students, because she said, “It is important to connect our campus with the Albion community, especially since so many graduates of Albion High School are contributing to the greater good in so many amazing ways.”

She added, “I hope that the Albion College community will learn more about the positive foundations created through the public school system. Also, a big part of celebrating cultural heritage months is tapping into things that are happening and connecting with populations connected to the celebrations.”

Leslie Spicer Williams, the creator and moderator of the Wildcat Wisdom Series, said she was inspired to pursue the project because “I was born and raised in Albion, and felt that my success was based on my upbringing and having a community that had my back.” It is a community, she added, that “embraced me every time I returned home for a visit. I have remained close to the community and feel that if there was an opportunity to highlight all of the good from products of Albion and the 49224 ZIP code, then it was my obligation to do so.”

The Series’ first two programs featured educators, military personnel, entrepreneurs, corporate administrators, government employees, authors and more. “The Series has an opportunity to let people know that this small city produced some great contributors to society and can continue to influence, guide, inspire, encourage, and lift future generations to do the same,” Spicer Williams said. “We have great connections and a powerful network that includes success.”

The panelists spoke of their time in Albion with appreciation. One of them, Wanda Kemp, a referral specialist in the medical field and co-director of the substance-abuse program Kids at Hope, still lives in Albion. Thinking about her time growing up in the community, she told attendees during the Feb. 8 Zoom event, “It wasn’t just your family that would support you. You could get that support anywhere you went. We were one. We were just one big family.”

Kemp also said she appreciates the racial diversity of Albion. “When I started working outside of Albion, that’s when I became more aware of racism,” she said. “I’m working with people telling me they have never been around Black people. So that was kind of shocking to me because I grew up in a diverse city.”

Spicer Williams said these are exactly the kinds of conversations the Wildcat Wisdom Series was designed to foster. “I chose February, Black History Month, as the month dedicated to host the Series as it propels the opportunity to highlight successful Blacks and African Americans,” she said. “It’s the month that the U.S. honors contributions and sacrifices of Blacks and African Americans who helped shape the nation. It celebrates our rich cultural heritage, triumphs and adversities that are a part of our country’s history. The same goes for Albion and the Wildcat Wisdom Series.”