Having grown up in Pittsburgh, PA, I spent my high school years In Harrisburg, PA. After Three Years at Howard, I was able to transfer to Virginia Commonwealth University and graduate with a degree in Special Education. In the early 1980s, I married Clarence Seay, A Jazz Musician whose career spanned some forty years. After some Nine years teaching, I completed enough credits to be certified in English and would go on to complete a Masters in English from Georgetown University. Following that degree, I was encouraged to seek a Ph.D. I was fortunate enough to be granted a McKnight Fellowship and attended the University of Florida, from which I would take a PH.D. in American Literature, 1880 -1930.
I finished a wonderful experience teaching at Virginia Union University in Richmond and accepted a position at the School of Business and Industry (SBI) at Florida A&M University. There, I was able to reinvent myself and my teaching through the unique curriculum at SBI. One important factor there was that faculty had to update skill sets through summer internships in corporate environments. Faculty was expected to keep up and to adjust their course work accordingly. An incredible experience.
I left SBI to direct the Upward Bound Project at FAMU, and in the eight years with the project, we saw some 600 high-school students move through the program. Most important to me was to make sure students understood how big the world really is. It’s important for students to see themselves as a part of a bigger world than the one they see every day. We traveled and we learned.
But during that time at SBI, I realized a life-long desire to own my own jazz club. In 2004, I was able to purchase a perfect venue, which was also on the Local Historic Registry and the Florida Master list of Historic sites. In 2008, the restoration was completed and in Applying for National Designation, I was able to find the house’s History. As a result of my research and the State Preservation Office’s research, The House was listed - in 2010 - on the National Register of Historic Houses. “The Womans [sic] Working Band House, 1921”, will be 100 years old next April.
We’ve operated a jazz club since 2008 and have had some magnificent performances. Most importantly, many students have passed through B Sharps on their way to making a name for themselves. Its’ been an incredible experience.
Once, during a talk with some high school students, one student asked me if I had “any regrets.” The question stopped me in my tracks. I had to think about it, and the answer was “no regrets.” I’ve been fortunate enough to do mostly all of the things I’ve wanted to tackle. What adventures I’ve had. And, now, I am entering the next one: running for The Tallahassee City Commission, Seat #2.
5/27/2020 12:05:07 pm
Greatly appreciate you sharing your story of accolades. Congratulations on your running for Tallahassee City Commission Seat #2
Desirée Roots Centeio
5/27/2020 02:27:36 pm
Geri, you are an absolute “Rock Star” and I’m proud to call you my friend. Again, congratulations!
5/29/2020 07:07:22 am
Remarkable accomplishments, my friend! Of course my favorite is the one where you opened a Jazz Club!!! An honor well-deserved, and more yet to come, I’m sure!
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