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Dec 15 2014

Driven to Lead: Diva Whalen, SGA President, The Historic Tougaloo College

What makes you a D.R.I.V.E.R. (Determined. Reliable. Innovative. Visionary. Emerging. Resourceful.)?
What “drives” me to serve is my passion to help others solve their problems or give them a platform to voice their concerns. I have always thought of myself as an agent for change or progression – a person who helps improve a situation in any way I possibly can; however, I never served in that official capacity until Tougaloo gave me an opportunity on their student government association my sophomore year. They have always elected me to be their voice and I have taken up the charge with the utmost sincerity because I realize daily they did not have to vote in my favor for the position.

What is your dream job?
My dream career is to be a professor of biology at a HBCU, preferably Tougaloo College.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
The accomplishment that I am most proud of is choosing Tougaloo College as my college to earn my bachelor of science in biology degree. I know that it might seem cliché; however, Tougaloo has provided me a chance to go to school on a full scholarship, be a Jackson Heart Study scholar, and be chosen as one of six HBCU students in Mississippi to study prostate cancer. Tougaloo College has given me room to grow not only academically but also socially.

What is the best advice that you have ever received?
The best advice I have received was from my parents. They advised me to never look left, never look right, but always focus on your own hurdles and your personal finish line.

Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
In five years, I envision myself with a Ph.D in cancer biology and a master’s in public health. These two degrees are crucial to the contribution I want to give to my community. With those two degrees, I hope to conduct research in the African-American male community in prostate cancer. My Ph.D will equip me with the skills to do the necessary research and my master’s will allow me to disseminate the information and knowledge I discover about prostate cancer to the African-American community.

What are your hobbies/interests/special talents?
My number one hobby is scrapbooking. I love going to Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, and other craft stores to help the pictures, certificates, and other mementos tell a story. My interest is anything to do with the science field. I watch Animal Planet, PBS Nova and Discovery Channel all the time to learning different scientific facts about the world we live in.

What are your “favs?”
Books: Songs of Solomon, The Immortal Life of Harrieta Lacks, and Oh, the Places You’ll Go
Artist: Alicia Keys
Food: Peach cobbler
Movie: “Monsters” because of the underlining theme of an imperfect family.

What advice would you like to share to help encourage other students or recent graduates to “keep driving?”
Encouragement that I always live by is Dr. Suess’ “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you,” which means no one can be a better anything than you because you’re original, unique, and all you. So reach for whatever heights you believe are attainable. Do not allow anyone to define or stop your hustle because the only person who defines who you are and what you are achieving is you.

What are your thoughts about what YOUniversity Drive is doing to help motivate, educate and inspire our next generation of leaders?
The YOUniversity Drive is an organization – a mission – that everyone who cares about the future should stand behind and support. It’s mission to help high school and college students not only find a career to succeed and growth but to actually cultivate that career through networking is amazing. YOUniversity Drive is the much needed liaison between the students and the professionals who want to create economic and social growth and change in communities that do not have a strong voice.