Alumni Stories

Sandra Green ‘09, ‘11, ‘14 Proof that Determination Gets You Where You Want to Go

By: Brandi Randolph

A picture of Sandy Green smiling

Sometimes the journey is sweeter than the destination. For Sandra (Sandi) Green, the destination was only the beginning. Sandi was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and is no stranger to perseverance and determination. Her journey from Brooklyn to Baltimore was both. When speaking to Sandi about her story, she conveyed that, “it all started one night in church.”

She is a spiritual woman. One day, while having a conversation with her Pastor, he mentioned, “It is time for you to leave New York.”  Sandi could not begin to think of leaving her home and all she knew. Her first thought was Baltimore because she, “used to do standup comedy and lip-sync shows [there].” Within the next 30 days, her son and herself, “packed up only what [they] could take on the Greyhound bus and left [New York]” in April of 2001. When she left, she thought that she planned their transition well, but things do not always go as planned. 

She arrived in Baltimore optimistic, but it would not stay that way for long. Sandi had secured two distinct positions at Johns Hopkins University and then at Morgan State University. Both had released her, and her living arrangements were less than ideal shortly after arriving. She started to feel the weight of her decision to move away from home. Ms. Green contacted her former supervisor in NY and was offered her position back. Before finishing her plans, she had a conversation with her current pastor and his wife, letting them know of her decision. Sandi sought out advice from the Pastor and his wife at Emmanuel Ministries COGIC (Church of God in Christ). She informed the Pastor and his wife, Dr. Vell Lyles (who was also Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management at Coppin State University during that time) that, “she was going back home.” Vell told Sandi, “It’s not time for [you] to go home yet”.  They made a deal; Sandra would stay in Baltimore another 30 days until Lyles could help her secure employment. A little over a year passed, and she received a phone call to report to Coppin State University in 2003. She would then be on a contractual six-month contract. Never in a million years did Ms. Green think she would ever step back into any school, much less a university or college. September 11, 2001, Ms. Green was sitting in Jury duty and watching what she thought was a movie and blurted out, “what movie is this?”, as she watched an airplane go into the World Trade Center, only to discover once all the lights went off, that it wasn’t a movie, but reality. Why is this so important for Ms. Green? Well before leaving New York, she was employed in the World Trade Center for five years and that is where she was headed back before being offered the position at Coppin.

By 2004, Sandra was an academic advisor for the First Year Experience department, as well as Placement Testing Coordinator, while getting her Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice. She addressed that “[She] was in a position where [she] was advising students on staying in school, completing their education, and earning their degree, but she did not have one.” She quickly remedied that by graduating in 2009 with her undergraduate degree. Right afterward, she decided to take her education further and started her first Masters degree in Criminal Justice Administration while working and graduated in 2011. She explained that “[She] had to compensate [her] salary with student loans.” This thought is how she decided to get her second Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling. In 2014, she graduated with her second Masters degree and was transferred from the First Year Experience department to work in the College of Business for two years. Until she received a phone call from then Provost Beverly Downing about the Director of First Year Experience position. “It did not happen because [I] sought out to get it” she said humbly, “[I] was sought out” because of the hard work she had done over the years for Coppin and its students. Provost Downing recruited Ms. Green by simply saying in a phone call that she needed a director of FYE (First Year Experience), and Ms. Green’s name kept reoccurring in the conversation.

Sandra did not let work stop her from participating on campus with her students. She excitedly said that she was, “often found with the students... showing up to their events. [She] wanted to be present [and for her] or students to see her. Not as somebody with degrees on the wall, [but as] she is.”. Green shows how dedicated she is to her students by wanting and making efforts to be relatable. Green was fortunate to have people on campus that related to her both academically and professionally.  Green spoke about individuals in the Coppin community that helped her through her time here. She spoke about Dorothea Houston and the students that she gets to serve. Dorothea Houston is a writing lab tutor, and Green discussed that, “the conversations that [we] were able to have and share [with each other were very valuable to her]”. She also admires the students at Coppin State because she sees them come in not wanting to be here and thrive. She treasures it when “students come back for Homecoming and other events as alumni, saying that they only came to see [her].”

Life threw Sandra curveballs and changed her plans many times. In 2022, Sandra is back to planning what she wants for her future. Her “two-year plan is to open two group homes. One for females and one for males. It’ll be a college preparatory program.” She goes on to communicate the purpose of it, “that they are college-ready and will come to Coppin State University.” In five years, she’s planning “to have completed her MDiv (Masters of Divinity)” because she wants to, “be a chaplain at Coppin”. 

The advice that Ms. Green would like current students to know is to, “Trust the process. It’s not [going to] look good all the time” and to, “always communicate and be transparent [with a mentor you trust on campus]”. Lastly, your journey is just that, Yours! Created just for you!

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