COMMUNICATOR
May 30, 2024

Honoring the Achievements of Remarkable Black Alumni

Black History Month recognizes the achievements of Black Americans and their contributions and more to the economic, political and social tapestry of the United States. To honor this special month, CSU would like to recognize some of the achievements of a few of our Black alumni who have excelled in their respective fields.

Vera Morrison
Morrison, deputy chief of the Decatur Georgia Fire & Rescue, is one of three women who make up the only fire command staff in the world where the three top positions are held by women. She has risen in the ranks since 2001, earned numerous acclaims and has been featured on several TV shows, including The Kelly Clarkson Show. She obtained her bachelor’s in fire administration in 2015.

Cyrus Robinson
Robinson is the first Black police chief of Port Richey, Florida, and CSU’s 2020 Outstanding Law Enforcement Professional runner-up. Robinson spent more than 30 years with the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office before transferring to Port Richey in summer 2020. Robinson graduated with his CSU master’s in criminal justice in 2017.

Tiffany Green
At age 44, Green became the first female and youngest chief of Prince George County Maryland Fire Department in 2019. She was also the department’s first female deputy fire chief in 2018. Green has served in the department for more than 25 years and continues to make great strides. Green completed her bachelor’s in fire science in 2012.

Felicia Rucker-Sumerlin
Rucker-Sumerlin, who has served in law enforcement for more than 30 years, became the first female deputy chief in Jefferson County Alabama Sheriff’s Office in January 2020. Four years earlier, she was honored by the local NAACP chapter after being the first Black female to attain a rank of captain in the history of the sheriff’s office. She earned a bachelor’s in criminal justice from CSU in 2011. Read more about her story in the fall 2020 issue of the alumni magazine.

Aubrey Jenkins
For 10 years, Jenkins has served as the first Black fire chief of the Columbia South Carolina Fire Department. He is a leader of 32 stations and more than 500 firefighters. While Jenkins has received numerous awards, including a volunteer and citizen of the year award, his department has received a class 1 ISO rating under his leadership. A 1 ISO is the highest rating a department can get as a measure of its fire protection efforts. He received his CSU bachelor’s in fire science in 2011.

David Johnson
In 2014, Johnson became the first Black fire chief for Leesburg, Florida, after 20 years of service. Prior to working his way to chief, Johnson worked with the department’s fire academy program and has taught at the local vocational colleges. He holds an MBA with a concentration in public administration from CSU.

Carmen Brocks
Brocks is a pioneer in her city of Jackson, Mississippi, as the first woman to be promoted to division fire chief for Jackson Fire Department. In 1998, she became the department’s first woman to earn the rank of lieutenant and later, the first woman to be named to captain and district chief of emergency services. She graduated in 2019 with a bachelor’s in fire administration from CSU.

William Powell
Since 2001, Powell has worked and advanced at the Jefferson County Alabama Sheriff’s Office. The sergeant, who formerly served in the Air Force Reserve and Army, is a dedicated training coordinator whose volunteer efforts focus on feeding the homeless, mentoring young Black men, providing shoes to children and speaking to caregivers who are spouses of cancer patients. In 2019, he was recognized by CSU as the runner-up for its Outstanding Law Enforcement Professional of the Year. He graduated with a master’s in criminal justice administration in 2018.

Nina Taylor
After 17 years of service, Taylor was recently promoted to the rank of fire captain at Birmingham Alabama Fire & Rescue Service Department. She also serves as a fire academy instructor at Midfield High School, runs a photography business and models on occasion. Taylor holds a bachelor’s degree in occupational safety and health and an associate in fire science from CSU.

Tahnika Moore-Bessant
Air Force Master Sgt. Moore-Bessant has an excellent record of community service and dedication to her work, which are two reasons she was named CSU’s 2020 Outstanding Law Enforcement Professional. As a decorated officer who leads a 72-person team at a North Carolina base, she has found time to volunteer with several youth and charitable agencies in her area. She earned her master’s in criminal justice in 2019.

Megan Marshall
In June 2020, Marshall became the first Black person to be elected to the Lee’s Summit Missouri Board of Education. Marshall retired from the Marine Corps in April 2020, after approximately 20 years of active duty, with the rank of chief warrant officer. While in the military, she was involved in mentoring programs including the Non-Commissioned Officer Council and Woman Marine Association. She also works in program support with the Veterans Affairs. In 2019, she graduated with a master’s in public administration.

We are proud to celebrate the accomplishments of such a distinguished group of alumni. If you’re interested in having your story featured, email Communicator@ColumbiaSouthern.edu.

Disclaimer: These testimonials may not reflect the experience of all CSU students.
Multiple factors, including prior experience, geography, and degree field, affect career outcomes.
CSU does not guarantee a job, promotion, salary increase, eligibility for a position, or other career growth.

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