Veronica Faison ’18: Creating Her Own Path at Stetson
Recent graduate Veronica Faison managed to juggle more in her four years at Stetson than most.
As the first in her family to earn an undergraduate degree, Faison approached obstacles head-on and in her own fashion to reach her goals.
“I’ve always had this pressing feeling that I needed to do and try everything and if I couldn’t succeed in something I wasn’t ‘doing college’ successfully,” she said. “But what I wish I’d known is that there is no prescribed way to succeed here, no golden standard that you must strive for. College is a place where you create your own path with your own fingertips and it’s more than okay if your path looks different than your peers’. In fact, it should be different, that’s what makes it yours.”
Her tenure in the Student Government Association as a senator during her junior year and as Vice President her senior year gave her a platform for her biggest passions: inclusion and diversity.
“No one should feel like they don’t belong somewhere, especially here in this tight-knit community. I wanted to know, ‘What is it? Why can’t certain students find their needs or their niche?’ That (SGA) committee was super important to me. So, the vice president was thinking of running for president at that time and she asked me to be her partner in crime I said, ‘yes,’ because what I learned and what I pushed for that past year I could take a step further.”
In addition to SGA, Faison was the managing editor for The Reporter magazine, a writer/intern for Stetson Today and University Marketing, a FOCUS leader and a member of the Communication and Political Science honor societies and the University Honors Program. In her spare time, the extraordinarily talented Faison sang in a variety of shows and ensembles. She graduated with a B.A. in Communication & Media Studies and Political Science, and a 3.4 GPA.
But there was a part of her that questioned her belief in what she would or could accomplish after graduation. When she met Professor of Education Patrick Coggins, PhD., her life changed for the better.
“I’ve never physically had him in a class before, but I heard about (Professor Coggins) so much because he was a faculty sponsor for a lot of multicultural student organizations on campus including the Black Student Association and the Caribbean Student Association. I heard his name all the time my freshman year, my sophomore, my junior year. I was like, ‘Who is this mystical figure that’s like everybody’s godmother?’” she explained with a laugh.
“I sent this really weird email to Dr. Coggins because I knew he studied law … and said, ‘I know this is out of the blue, but I don’t know what I’m doing with my life?’ And he said, ‘Come to my office.’ Not only did he help me figure out a lot of logistics like, what are you looking for? What kind of law do you want to pursue, narrowing down my choices? Have you written your personal statement?’ And I said, ‘no,’ to all of those things! He really helped me drum up whole-hearted belief in myself that I could do it.”
“Veronica is one of the smartest, most thoughtful and most articulate student I have encountered at Stetson. She is a critical thinker who never jumps to conclusions without a careful analysis,” explained Coggins. “The fact that she was the first to graduate from college (from her immediate family) put a lot of strain on her. I encouraged her to understand the fact that she is a pioneer that shows the positive example that where you start in life is not the same place you end up.”
Coggins encouraged and supported her dream of going to law school – and that long-held dream of Faison’s will be a reality in August after she was accepted to the American University Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C.
“By laying out her vision as a lawyer in her personal statement, she has outlined a road map for her future success,” said Coggins. “Veronica has a deep sense of caring and social justice that will be missed on campus. She has the natural gift of inclusive excellence, which is demonstrated by her ability to reach across racial, gender and socio-economic barriers and develop wholesome relationships with people. She will join the class of outstanding Stetson Alumnae.”
Her deep, personal connection with Professor Coggins allowed Faison not only to grow toward her life of significance, but also to offer some valuable advice to incoming freshman at Stetson:
“My advice to a possible first-gen student is that what may feel like fumbling is actually exploration and every explorer needs guides. You are never inconveniencing someone by asking them for their insight and expertise. In fact, if they’re sitting on knowledge, you’re probably doing them a favor by letting them share it.”