Meet Brittanye Blake (middle), and her mother, Dr. Beverley Richardson–Blake (right), and her grandmother, Lavern Richardson (left). Together, they represent three generations of VSU women. Lavern Richardson planted a seed at Valdosta State College in 1967, and since then, that seed has grown, spread roots, and ultimately formed a lively family tree that consists of several members who have become intertwined with Valdosta State University.
We caught up with Brittanye to find out what made VSU so special to her and her family.
“My grandmother, Lavern Richardson, started at Valdosta State College in 1967 to obtain a Bachelor of Science in education. My aunt Cherlyn Sands–Anderson, the oldest of five children, attended Valdosta State College before my mother. My mother, Dr. Beverley Richardson–Blake, started as a freshman in 1975 as an early childhood education major. She was awarded a full academic scholarship and served as a member of the Black Student League, a minority peer advisor, and an alternate cheerleader for the basketball team. I started my journey at Valdosta State University in 2015 as a freshman. After arriving at VSU, I too became involved in Black Student League, just as my mother did when she was in school. (Fun fact: My grandmother was at Valdosta State College when the Black Student League was first started in 1969.)
When my family was considering attending college back then, Valdosta State College was the only reputable college in the area, and they knew it would be the best place to continue their education. We truly had no idea that the school would become so special to us. It honestly happened by chance. Over the years though, Valdosta State University became the automatic college of choice when it came time for all of my aunts and uncle, and even the first grandchild of the family, Jamie Foster Hill, to attend college.
Looking back on my childhood, I always remember my grandmother pushing for me and my family members to receive an education and enjoy our time in college. And, through college, she has always encouraged us to pursue what we love, which, for most of my family members happened to be teaching others. There are a few family members who chose a route other than education, but for the most part, the majority of our family members teach, ranging from the middle school to the collegiate level. The only exceptions to this are my uncle, Eddie Richardson Jr., who is a doctor in the Atlanta, my aunt, Debbie Norwood, who is in banking, and myself, who has chosen to pursue a degree in mass media.
This spring, I will be completing the third generation of family members who have graduated from Valdosta State University, and I couldn’t be prouder. My younger cousins might only be in elementary school, but we’re already teaching them the importance of hard work in school, making friends, doing activities that they enjoy, and making good decisions, and we also share as many #VState stories that we can with them. And who knows? They, too, might decide to continue our family’s legacy and become a part of the fourth generation to attend Valdosta State University.
My family has so much love for this school, and each of my family members works toward giving back to VSU any way that they can. My mother has been employed at Valdosta State for 27 years, and she serves on the alumni board. My aunt Lana Foster and my cousin Jamie Foster Hill are active in the Alumni Association. And all of my family, from my grandmother down to my cousin’s children, attend any university-sponsored activities or events that they can to support the school. We love VSU, and we look forward to any occasion where we can give back to the institution that has given so much to us.” – Brittanye Blake