Shaw U Alum Evingerlean D. Blakney ’09 Returns to B.E.A.R. Witness 

RALEIGH — The serendipity was undeniable, Shaw University Awards Day in C.C. Spaulding Gymnasium Thursday being the event nearly two decades that basically baptized Evingerlean D. Blakney into the family of Bears. 

“It was this very day I came up by Amtrak. It was the admissions office that came to pick me up. They housed me. They fed me. They took me back to the train station the next day,” Blakney said. “It was Awards Day, and I was encouraged to attend.”

Bear hugs like that made settling in more suitable. She’d come from Charlotte and got busy with her schoolwork, on her way to becoming the first in her family to earn a college diploma. Blakney kept studying, securing a doctorate degree when she was 28. 

There she was on stage, back on campus, on assignment at her alma mater’s 2024 Awards Day as founder of Evingerlean Worldwide Inc. and Blakney Global Solutions Inc.

Known as Dr. Eve, she explained the dream she had about a decade ago. In the dream, she was the featured speaker for Shaw University Awards Day. 

“When something is in your head and your heart and your mind, it is a belief. It is impossible that it won’t happen,” Blakney explained. “If you completely believe in whatever that thing is, it is bound to happen.” 

Mind you, in the gymnasium with Blakney were highly educated faculty who’ve been pouring into very motivated students, who were getting honored for making the Dean’s List and President’s List or otherwise having phenomenal grade-point-averages. 

Dr. Eve had something up her syllabus. 

“I didn’t come to put you to sleep,” Blakney said. “I came to have a conversation.”  

She came to tell everybody what it means to B.E.A.R. witness.

The B is for brave.

“Be brave in the face of adversity,” Blakney said. “What’s the E? Expect great things for your life.”

To get at that E, Blakney pulled out a $5 bill and asked who wanted it. Hands all over the gym went up. But Shaw University student Phillip Williams was the only one who got up and marched to the stage to get the money.

“To expect great things, you have to make great things happen,” said Blakney, one of the speakers during the inaugural TEDxShawUniversity. “You cannot sit and wait for somebody to change the game for you. You have to change the game for yourself.”

To demonstrate the A, Blakney ran through a medley of songs that included “Before I Let Go” by Maze and the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” nursery rhyme. She would start singing a song and then just go into another one with no warning. 

“That A — allow yourself to change course as needed,” Blakney said. “You all had a song in you. You all knew the song. It moved your spirit. It touched you. You felt it. It was familiar to you. But I came in and disrupted your pattern. And yet, you kept going because you heard something familiar.”

Life’s like that. 

“Sometimes things are going to happen, but allow yourself to change your course,” Blakney said. “You will find a rhythm in the room, and you will find people that will join you on the path to support you. Just keep singing your song.” 

Blakney said the R is about recognizing that everything you need is within you.

“Did you know that the black bear is one of the most adaptable creatures? We are Bears for a reason. Ella Baker was a Bear,” Blakney said. “I am a Bear. You are Bears. Dr. Sowell, she’s a Bear. We know how to adapt.”

The late Baker, a Shaw University alumna from the class of 1927, organized meetings on campus that resulted in college students establishing the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC. Those meetings, by the way, took place 64 years ago this week from April 15-17. 

Stacey Sowell, Ph.D., is vice president for enrollment management at Shaw University. An alum from the class of 2003, she, too, has a testimony of coming into her own after arriving on campus. 

It was those Bear hugs.