Alumna Dr. Leslie Black endows scholarship to provide opportunities for future TROY students

Alumna Dr. Leslie Black has endowed a scholarship that will aid students pursuing degrees in Health and Human Services or College of Business.

Alumna Dr. Leslie Black has endowed a scholarship that will aid students pursuing degrees in Health and Human Services or College of Business.

Two-time alumna Dr. Leslie Black says her time at Troy University helped to lay the foundation for her career success, and now, she wants to provide those same opportunities for future TROY students.

Dr. Black has endowed the Dr. Leslie S. Black Endowed Scholarship, which will assist students from Cordova High School, her alma mater, pursuing a degree within TROY’s College of Health and Human Services or the Sorrell College of Business on the Troy Campus. Should no applicants meet this criterion, second preference will be given to African American applicants within the two colleges.

Dr. Black, who now serves as a Sales Effectiveness Manager for Pfizer Inc., came to TROY after receiving the George C. Wallace Leadership Scholarship and knows the impact scholarship funds can have for students who might not otherwise be able to attend college.

“Once I hit a stride in my career financially, I knew that I wanted to leave a legacy, a mark,” she said. “One of the ways I felt I could build that legacy was through an endowment and something that would live in perpetuity. I’ve always been an advocate for the athletic training scholarship at TROY and was a consistent donor to it. I always talked to my family about having a scholarship in my name or a building with my name on it at TROY. When the opportunity finally presented itself, I was very proud to be able to put my name on a scholarship at TROY.”

Specifying Cordova High School as a first qualifier for the scholarship was important to Dr. Black because of the lack of resources students in the area generally face.

“It is a very small town and was devastated by the tornadoes that came through the Birmingham and Tuscaloosa areas several years ago. Those smaller towns tend to get left out,” Dr. Black said. “Getting the George C. Wallace Scholarship was significant in me being able to go to college, so I wanted to be able to do the same. I think about how I was as a little girl and what would have helped me, so I wanted to do that same thing. That is why I put those layers into the scholarship.”

Dr. Black credits her late grandfather and her mother for always stressing the importance of receiving an education.

“My late grandfather, William Mitchell, instilled in me and my siblings that education was the way out of poverty, and I knew that was the way I was going to be successful in life,” she said. “My mother, Sheron Mitchell, being a single parent and raising four children by herself, one of the things she always impressed upon us was to get an education so that we could have a better life than she had. We were all able to do that. I must give my mother accolades and praise because what she was able to do as an administrative assistant to help to push all her children through college and to have successful careers was amazing and that was my foundation.”

As for her decision to attend TROY, it was the influence of family that made that decision easier as well.

“I have two older sisters and a younger brother that went to TROY. My oldest sister, Tia Green, went to TROY but finished up at Mississippi State. The rest of us graduated from TROY,” she said. “I have an older sister, Patricia Muhammad , who graduated with a degree in English and History and is a teacher in Montgomery. My brother, Aaron Mitchell, graduated with a degree in marine biology and is working at a Naval base in Japan. We have kept TROY in the family.”

Arriving at TROY, Dr. Black wanted to study physical therapy, but an influential faculty member helped to change the course of her education.

“Once I met Doc Anderson, I switched over to the athletic training program and never looked back. Doc was just an iconic figure at TROY and beyond,” she said. “The one thing I loved about TROY was that I felt like an individual. Classes were small. I wanted individualization, so that if there was a case that I wasn’t getting something, the professor would know who I was and I could reach out. If I had to do it over again, I would still go that route because it was a very familial atmosphere.”

During her time at TROY, Dr. Black formed many long-lasting relationships and became what she calls a “well-rounded student.”

“I joined a sorority, so I went through the Mu Alpha chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha while I was there. I was in the Gospel Choir. I was a student athletic trainer, so I went to practices, I traveled with teams,” she recalled. “I was the student athletic trainer for women’s basketball. I worked football part of my senior year as well. That kept me very busy. I was a very well-rounded student.”

After receiving her bachelor’s degree in athletic training in 1996, Dr. Black entered graduate school, serving as a graduate assistant in athletic training until the first opportunity of her professional career came knocking.

“I took a job as the head athletic trainer at Tuskegee University. Got my athletic training degree in 1996. Then I went to Tuskegee for two years and worked, and then I went to Albany, Ga. where I worked at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital where I was a staff athletic trainer,” she said.

At Phoebe, she provided services for the local junior college and taught a sports injury and prevention class, as well as working with the local high school and providing outpatient physical therapy for patients with orthopedic injuries and Marines at the Marine Corps Logistics Base.

It was during her time in Albany that the door opened to continue her graduate studies.

“That kept me very busy for five years, and while I was there, the hospital had a cohort program with TROY where they wanted their managers to get master’s degrees in management,” Dr. Black said. “They opened it up to any colleagues that worked at the hospital, and I was interested, so I jumped in the class. The professors came to us every other weekend for a year. We went to class after 5 on Friday until about 10 p.m., and then all day on Saturday and Sunday. I finished with my master’s in management with a health care concentration in 2002.”

From there, it was another TROY alumnus who recruited Dr. Black to come to work for Pfizer.

“A TROY graduate recruited me to Pfizer. Rickie Williams and his wife, Tina, both graduated from TROY, and it just so happened that I was his wife’s student athletic trainer when she ran track,” she said. “I ran into them at homecoming one year and found out they lived in Tallahassee, and we just kept in touch. He was up for a promotion, and he said, ‘Hey, I think this would be a good fit. You work with orthopedic surgeons and this product is an anti-inflammatory and we talk with orthopedic surgeons all day.’ I put my name in the hat, interviewed and the rest is history.”

In Tallahassee, Dr. Black served as a sales representative in internal medicine, promoting neuroscience, pain, and pulmonary medications.

“I had several different roles while I was there. I was in the field there for almost 12 years, and then I put in for a promotion to move to Atlanta,” Dr. Black said. “Since 2014, I’ve been here in Atlanta in oncology, specifically hematology, calling on hematology oncologists for our leukemia products. Then I transitioned out of the field into training. I trained the U.S. field force for hematology for three years and then last year I transitioned into the current role, which is a sales effectiveness manager. I am on the Enablement Team so I’m on the leadership team for Hematology Oncology and I work closely with the national sales director. So, I’m kind of a jack of all trades. I do a little bit of everything, but I really love it.”

Dr. Black believes that the foundation she received at TROY has helped lead her to success within her career.

“Being in athletic training laid the foundation for any success that I’ve had,” she said. “I feel it instilled in me the ability to look at situations differently, to be calm under pressure and to have a methodical process to let all your training and education come into play when you must make decisions. I’m calm under pressure, and I feel like that has helped me in my career. Being a lover of sports and being athletic, I’m very competitive, so in a sales environment that connects to being very successful.”

In addition to her education, she believes the atmosphere and opportunities she had at TROY has played a key role in her life.

“My college experience at TROY was so well rounded that I feel like I had the best of both worlds. I had a social life, as well as having a great academic structure, and I feel like I could go toe-to-toe with students from any Ivy League school or anywhere,” she said. “I feel like TROY doesn’t always get the credit it deserves for the talent that comes out of the University. There are top-notch students that come out of TROY and hopefully I am representing them well.”

In addition to the endowed scholarship, Dr. Black is giving back to TROY in other ways as well. She was recently selected to serve on the Advisory Council for the College of Health and Human Services.

“I’m proud to be doing a lot for TROY because of all TROY did for me,” Black said. “It is my hope to be able to eventually fund this scholarship in the amount that one day it could be a full-tuition scholarship. That will take a significant amount of money, but I’m willing to do the work to get it there.”