Q&A with 2022 Alumni Service Award Winner, Hakiem Coles ’07
1. What inspired you to get involved with the Black Alumni Association [BAA] and take on this leadership role? What are your goals for the BAA?
I wanted to be a part of an initiative that gave back to the community that helped make me the man I am today. As Black Alumni of this prestigious school, it is important to make sure that current and future students of color know they are not alone and, if they choose, they can communicate with people that know exactly what it feels like to be in their shoes as a minority on a predominantly white campus. Our goals have remained the same, we are dedicated to providing support for black students and their families in addition to providing more educational experiences on this campus through raising funds towards an endowed fund. Once we are able to hit our goal of $100,000 we will be able to support yearly trips to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. I think we need to understand and appreciate our American history in order to build a better tomorrow where people are genuinely empathetic towards one another no matter what they look like.
2. Tell me a little bit about your career and what you do in your current role.
I am the Director of Education for an Adult Trade School, Pennco Tech. The campus is located in Bristol, PA and I have been working there for 8 years now. I have worked on the administrative side of operations and worked my way up to the position I currently hold. I am responsible for over 400 students between our Day and Evening programs. I manage over 25 instructors and ensure that they are providing a proper education to my students. We have Automotive Technology, Collision Repair, Medical Assistants, Pharmacy Technology, Plumbing, HVAC&R, and Electricians. I am in charge of making sure the curriculum is current and evolving with their respective industries in addition to making sure my instructors have everything they need to be the best resource for our students.
3. What about your time at Shipley inspired you to do what you do?
I love helping people, I have been doing it almost my entire life no matter what job title I held at that moment. Shipley has always been big on service in the community and there were people that helped me along my journey on this campus. This is something that will always stick with me because it is a choice to be kind to others, I am prepared to make that choice every day of my life. That personal choice has allowed me to thrive in life because it has never been about personal accolades for me, more so about how I can positively affect the people around me.
4. What advice would you have for current Shipley students?
You are all going to be the future leaders of America in whatever field you decide to enter when it is time for you to leave Shipley. I encourage you all to embrace your journey with the ups and downs that will come with it. Stay true to yourself and fight for what you think is important in this world.
5. What is next? What are your professional and personal goals for the next five years?
The next step for me will be an eventual promotion in the next 1-2 years. That promotion would have me serving as the School Director of my campus. This would make me the youngest and only person of color in my company’s history to serve as the School Director. This would be an amazing accomplishment and I continue to work my hardest to make that eventual transition as seamless as possible when that day comes. I think 5 years from now the BAA will definitely have an established endowed fund on this campus which will really begin the fun of implementing our plans for enhancing the cultural experience on this campus. On a personal note, I would like to think that I have started my family within the next five years with my lovely wife. I strive to be the best son, brother, husband, friend, and boss I can possibly be.
The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.