By Laurie D. Willis
Livingstone College News Service
It seems Livingstone College students Shari Albury and Anna Kay Edwards were destined to become friends — and leaders.
“During my freshman year, one of the RAs in Babcock Residence Hall told me she liked my accent, and then she said there was somebody else here with an accent like mine,” said Albury, who’s from Nassau, the Bahamas. “She brought Anna Kay to the first floor of the lobby for us to meet, and we hit it off. That’s unique because usually in our cultures Jamaicans and Bahamians don’t get along. But we became friends because we had similar goals and are very driven.”
Albury, 21, is a senior education major who plans to obtain a master’s degree in actuarial science “because we need that in the Bahamas.” Edwards, 22, is a senior biology major who plans to attend medical school.
Albury is the Student Government Association president at Livingstone, and Edwards is Miss Livingstone College. Both women have GPAs of 3.85 or higher. And if you’re walking on Livingstone’s campus and see one of them, chances are the other is close by.
The women have shared a close bond since that day they met as freshmen. And for the past three years they’ve been suitemates, both living in the Honors Residence Hall. But Miss Livingstone traditionally has a room in Goler Residence Hall, so this year for the first time they won’t live in the same dorm.
“After we met each other we saw some of the potential at Livingstone College and we wanted to make it better for international students as well as for the entire student body,” Edwards said. “We didn’t want to run the school, but we wanted to make a difference.”
Most people who know Edwards and Albury know they’re very close. And few are surprised they have assumed leadership roles on campus. Recently, they were among a group of about 70 Livingstone students who helped build a Habitat House in Spencer. And they will each have specific duties because of their respective roles as Miss Livingstone and SGA president that will require them to sometimes meet with Livingstone College President Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr.
“Anna Kay and Shari are the epitome of exemplary college students,” Jenkins said. “They apply themselves academically and serve as role models for other students. Each of them is involved in extracurricular activities, in addition to their leadership roles, but they manage to maintain high GPAs despite their busy schedules. They are committed to helping make Livingstone College a better place, and I have no doubt they will do just that. I look forward to working with them during the 2013-2014 academic year.”
Going to college isn’t easy for many students, particularly those who attend college in foreign countries, but Edwards and Albury serve as a great source of support for each other.
“I think we bring the best out of each other,” Albury said. “My friendship with Anna Kay is one of the most genuine or authentic relationships I’ve ever been in with someone who’s not a family member. Anna Kay tells me what I need to do to be a better student, a better friend and a better person, and I definitely do the same for her.”
Although their tight bond is evident, the women have had their moments.
“You know females always tend to have differences, and I was hoping nothing would go wrong,” Edwards said. “But during our freshman year we had a big fight and it happened again during our sophomore year.”
The friends argued because Albury grew tired of trying to persuade Edwards to socialize and occasionally leave her dorm room except to go to class or to the library.
“I’d try to get her to do campus stuff like parties, workshops or other events,” Albury said, “but she always said no.”
Edwards wasn’t trying to be a party pooper or to annoy her friend. She said her parents, Allen and AnnMarie Edwards, sheltered her when she was younger.
“My parents didn’t really allow me to go anywhere, so after a while I adapted to that lifestyle,” Edwards said. “I was always inside my house and didn’t really go anywhere unless I had to. When I came to college I didn’t know anything. I wasn’t used to going out and having fun, and Shari was the total opposite.”
Gradually, Edwards emerged from her shell and started accepting Albury’s invitations. Today she’s quite comfortable attending college functions and participating in them, which is good because as Miss Livingstone College she’ll be required to.
Albury and Edwards say they plan to make the most of their senior year. In a meeting with Jenkins, they expressed their desire to help raise the standards of excellence at the college — a goal he welcomes with open arms.
“A lot of times when student leaders meet with the college president they discuss what they feel the institution is lacking without offering any concrete solutions to make things better,” Jenkins said. “These young ladies told me they want to foster a sense of pride among the Livingstone College student body and they said they want all students to strive to make good grades. I think those are excellent goals.”
Both women are doing exceptionally well academically. And Edwards spent the majority of her summer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the institution’s Medical Education Development Program. The rigorous program was designed to mimic a medical school curriculum for aspiring doctors and dentists, and she thanks Dr. Alexandra Proctor for encouraging her to apply to it.
The women say they’ve had a lot of help along the way. Edwards credits her success, in part, to her parents. And she said Helen Turner “has become her mother away from home.” She also said Dr. DaVaughn Miller, chairman of the college’s music department and director of its Concert Choir, and Dr. Da’Tarvia Parrish, an English professor, have been helpful to her.
Albury said her parents, Vaughn and Vonya Albury, have helped her, as well as Dr. Charmion Rush in the education department and Tameka Moody in the Success Center.
The women said after they graduate in May, they hope to be remembered for raising the standards at Livingstone.
Odds are they will be.