Strength for the Journey, Part 1

BSAP conference worship

Worship at the annual conference of InterVarsity’s Black Scholars and Professionals (BSAP), 2015. Image courtesy of Boris Collins.

ESN is delighted to share wisdom on continuing in the journey of higher education from Dr. Claudette Ligons, and to highlight the work of InterVarsity’s Black Scholars and Professionals (BSAP). BSAP, a national ministry within InterVarsity, recently hosted its fifth annual conference in Cambridge, MA. Dr. Ligons spoke on persevering and growing in the academic life, a topic very relevant to emerging scholars. Dr. Ligons also has the distinction of a 100% graduation rate among the Ed.D. students she has supported through the dissertation process at Texas Southern University. ESN will share her paper as a four part series over the next month.

Strength for the Journey

Good morning! I thank you for that gracious introduction. I continue by thanking the conference organizer, Pastor Boris Collins and his bride, Dr. Alice Brown Collins for the privilege to speak at the Black Scholars and Professionals Conference, this morning. I commend them and their hardworking colleagues for establishing this conference back in 2007. This conference is visionary in a society where some say that we are now post-racial. There are challenges in the U.S. that are unique to African Americans.

I thank each of you for electing to participate in this conference. There is a genuine need for this kind of high profile organization to serve a segment of the nation’s intellectual elites. You represent a very small percentage of the world’s professionals. In the broader world community, the average person has access to just four years of formal education. That’s 4th grade. Imagine that!

At Texas Southern University, in Houston, I am pleased to be the faculty sponsor for the Graduate and Undergraduate chapters of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Mrs. Chermaine Kabugu leads the Graduate Chapter that was organized to serve, faculty, staff and students at Texas Southern. It is my delight to work with her. She is already building relationships with a growing cadre of students who participate in these spiritual growth sessions.

Without recognizing it at first, I borrowed the title of my message from Joe Stowell’s web ministry, Strength for the Journey. I considered changing it but nothing else seemed to work. So, I’m acknowledging that my title is not original.

Your engagement in or completion of graduate study demonstrates that you value education. Education is recognized around the world as the single most powerful way to reduce poverty and to promote peace and stability. In the U.S. many have come to see education as a basic civil right. Your pursuit of higher education is praiseworthy. Kudos to each of you for the sacrifice involved in graduate study.

This morning, I want to share some ideas that I believe could strengthen you, wherever you are in your studies and your faith journey, whether you are enrolled in graduate study, launching your career or both. Foundational for all that I will share is the assumption that Christ is central in your life; that you submit to His council; and, you live in the empowerment of His Holy Spirit.

My title, “Strength for the Journey”, suggests that earning a higher education credential and launching a successful career are long-term goals. Tens of thousands of people begin the journey but fall away before they earn the prize. Success in these ventures demands a persistent concentration of focus.

I invite your thinking about these ideas around three themes. These are: Planning for Victory, Prayerfully; Reducing Your Load for Strength Enhancement; and Celebrating Small Victories.


Part of Dr. Claudette Ligons’s Strength for the Journey series for the Emerging Scholars Network Blog. Join us on Monday as Dr. Ligons explores her first point, “Planning for Victory, Prayerfully.”

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Claudette Ligons

Dr. Claudette Merrell Ligons is Associate Dean of Academic Affairs of the College of Education and Professor in The Department of Curriculum & Instruction, at Texas Southern University. She teaches and mentors doctoral students, shepherding them through the dissertation process. Ligons began her career as a Peace Corps Volunteer Teacher in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Other international work includes effective schools’ research in Thailand; research on parent involvement in schools as a Fulbright Scholar in Tanzania; and faculty professional development in teaching innovations at Eastern Cape Technikon in South Africa. Ligons says her work in Africa is among the most rewarding of her career. Recent publications include The effect of legislation on the use of physical restraint of special education students in Texas public schools and A Study of the Experiences of a Critical Friends Group of African American Faculty in an HBCU and a Predominately White University. As committed Christians, Ligons and her husband Bob work as a team in discipleship training and intercessory prayer. In May of 2015, they celebrate 18 years of service as intercessors. They see these as the most satisfying areas of service that they are privileged to offer in the body of Christ.

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