"Hidden Qualities Uncovered"
By Tiffany King
When Kalia Lippencott, 23, transferred to the College of Coastal Georgia in 2016, she didn't realize that her leadership qualities hidden just below the surface would blossom.
Lippencott is a senior majoring in hospitality and tourism. She is on course to complete all her classes in July and graduate in December. Lippencott transferred to the College from Mercyhurst University in Pennsylvania. Her family lived in Michigan then moved to Georgia when her father was assigned to Kings Bay Naval Base in Camden. She took a semester off from college to intern at Disney World—a fateful decision that changed her trajectory.
"I was down in the South where it's so warm and was only three hours away from my parents, versus 14 hours away. I got back to Mercyhurst, spent a semester in the snow, and it didn't work for me anymore. I wanted to be in the warmth and with my family," Lippencott said.
At Mercyhurst, Lippencott majored in pre-med but didn't enjoy the science classes. While working for Disney, she realized she enjoyed making someone else's experience special.
"I've always been the kind of person who likes to help other people and make whatever they're doing better. Hospitality and tourism was the perfect fit," Lippencott said. "Hospitality is in everything you do and I can use it, even if I wanted to get another degree. If I were to go back for pre-med, hospitality is your bedside manner."
Lippencott really enjoys her hospitality professors. She gushed about Dr. Tyra Hilliard, assistant professor and program lead of the Hospitality and Tourism Management program, who she describes as always encouraging her to do her best. Lippencott likes the conversational tone of Associate Professor Dr. Richard "Robby" Roberson's classes, and is getting to know Dr. Matt Mosley, the new assistant professor of hospitality and management.
Lippencott is the president of the Black Student Union, which officially launched in fall 2018.
"I realized that we really needed a more positive club for African American students on campus," she said.
BSU has co-hosted many events on campus that promote cultural exchanges and interactions. Club members are currently planning events for the next academic year and Lippencott remains hopeful that the organization will continue to grow.
Lippencott is not only the president of BSU; she is also the director of student organizations for the Student Government Association at Coastal Georgia. By taking the lead in different areas, Lippencott realized her leadership capabilities.
"I've always had a leadership personality. It took a long time for me to find it," she said. "Being a military child and moving around, it was easy to hide and avoid making friends until I established myself somewhere and got involved."
She advises her peers to "definitely get involved. It makes all the difference and you get to meet new people, who can become your friends." At Mercyhurst, she spent most of her time with her roommates, and doing homework, which she called draining. Getting involved gave her a break from the monotony. Lippencott is also a peer educator, participates in Overboard Entertainment, is co-chair of the Campus Pantry, and is a student worker in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
Finding Support On Campus
Lippencott was able to develop a support system on campus, which helped her deal with not only college life but with depression as well. Her support team mainly consists of students and staff of the Student Life office.
"Depression is a big thing on college campuses. People go to college and find out that they have it because at home they have everything—school, family, and a social life. When they get away from their family they feel alone. College work is so different than high school work and it all piles up. It's an issue that a lot of college campuses deal with," she said. "I dealt with that. That's why I like being on campus because I have my support system on campus and at home too."
She is adamant about removing the stigmas around mental health issues.
"Depression needs to be acknowledged more, especially with how high the rates are. Among military kids it's extremely high with moving, readjusting, and parents being deployed. No one talks about it and it tends to just settle, and resurface later," she said.
Lippencott said she'll miss the College. She has too many favorite moments to select just one, but what they all have in common is being on campus with her friends. She is currently considering a job position as a resident hall coordinator at Lake Superior State University in Michigan.
"I made a lot of good connections here with staff, like [Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management] Jason Umfress and [Coordinator of Student Engagement & Intercultural Programs] Brittany Garcia. It's sad but I'll hopefully be going to another college community, so that togetherness will be there," she said.
Lippencott has learned a lot from her time at Coastal Georgia. She learned the importance of adapting to change, and moving forward from situations when the time is right, but one of the most important lessons she's learned is about herself.
"I know how to take charge, delegate, and figure things out," Lippencott said. "I've learned that I actually am a leader."