As the first black woman to be elected to the executive board of the Council of Graduate Students, Dee Jordan quickly realized how important it is to be the first.
Jordan holds the office of Vice President for External Affairs for COGS, which has been around for nearly 40 years.
“Being elected to office and knowing that there had not been one before me, it was beyond moving to me,” Jordan said with tears in her eyes.
Jordan, a geography doctoral student, said she received advice from her grandfather at eight-years-old. She said she hardly thought it would stick with her throughout her life.
“He said, ‘never follow where others dwell, create your own path and lead the trail,'” Jordan said.
Jordan said her grandfather was a major part of her support group growing up, and now the quote is ingrained in her. Throughout her life, Jordan has had to overcome difficulties to get where she is now. For example, she raised her now 19-year-old son as a single mother.
“It was very difficult at times being a single parent,” Jordan said. “You want to make sure that they see what it means to work hard and achieve and not take the easy way.”
Jordan said her son has grown up to be a great person and she can remember the day he received the Gates Millennium Scholarship, a scholarship funded by Bill and Melinda Gates for high-achieving students of diverse backgrounds.
She said it meant even more since he achieved it despite having learning disabilities at a young age.
“The year my son won in 2014, there were 50,000 applicants,” Jordan said. “I have no idea how you choose from the best of the best out of 50,000.”
Jordan said they both wept together because at that moment she realized that she did it — her son would be going to college.
He now attends Elon University and is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in communications and political science. Jordan said her son wants to be a Supreme Court Justice someday.
With Jordan’s position, she also hopes to make an impact on the community. Jordan said she became involved with COGS by attending a subcommittee meeting for healthcare.
“For me, I thought this would be a good place to have a voice at the table,” Jordan said. “I think that’s profoundly important.”
Jordan said that upon joining COGS, she immediately found her place and started to build relationships.
“None of us took the desire to run weakly, mildly or insignificantly,” Jordan said. “We could be unified.”
Jordan frequently mentors young girls and students in order to empower them to strive for their very best academically and so forth.
She said on the one hand she was elated to be an example for young minorities and students but she also found it sad that she was the first.
“I will make sure that every other one coming behind me from this moment on, they will have the opportunity,” she said.
Jordan said it is essential to have more minorities in leadership roles because it shows young people that despite adversity they to can achieve and lead.
She said her past paves the way for her future and she intends to be an example to anyone who feels as if they cannot be in a position to promote change in the world.
“I will do everything I can to ensure that this door stays open,” Jordan said.