Almost a decade ago, Tameka Wilson
was a 19-year-old on military duty in Afghanistan.
Wilson is the first international Phi Theta Kappa officer from Hinds Community College, the first female African-American international president from Mississippi, and the first female international president from Mississippi in 75 years.
one of the first female veterans to serve as an international officer.
"It's so crazy how it all happened," said Wilson, 28, a member of the Gamma Lambda chapter of Phi Theta Kappa at Hinds.
It was necessary, she
said, for her
to leave her
mother's home in California's Sierra Nevada at 15.
"I graduated at 16 and went to live in Los Angeles," Wilson
"I tested to become a linguist, and once I passed that, I went into the Air Force."
Six months after returning from her
tour in Afghanistan, where she
worked on major U.S. military contracts, she
took custody of her
"I was recruited in my field of contracting by an engineering company.
It had a bachelor's degree requirement, and they waived that for me," Wilson
"But because I didn't have any education, there were only so many times I could be promoted."
Then, some of her
birth father's relatives in Mississippi reached out to her
"I didn't meet my father until I was 16," Wilson
"I came here and figured I would try it out, but when I got here, it was very difficult."
sights on Mississippi College
and scholarship opportunities there.
represented community college students statewide in February at the state Capitol, advocating level funding.
That changed quickly," Wilson
With the support of teachers and her
fellow Phi Theta Kappa officers at Hinds
decided that part of her
school's April trip to the honorary's International Convention in Seattle would be a run for office.
And with Muse's encouragement and financial backing from the school, she
and the Hinds delegation put together a campaign.
"Dr. Muse just said he believed in me and wanted to support me," Wilson
Wilson found herself one of 11 candidates for president at a convention of more than 3,600 delegates.
Then, it was Wilson
and one other finalist, making a final speech before the assembly.
is that kind of person; she
stands out for all the right reasons."
is embarking on a whirlwind of post-semester travel: a trip to Costa Rica with Hinds' Honors Institute
, then Phi Theta Kappa officer orientation at the Jackson headquarters.
will preside over Phi Theta Kappa's Honors Institute
in June in Boston, then the international convention next year in Nashville.
"I believe Tameka
, through the comprehensive training and mentoring provided by our staff, has the potential to mobilize and lead our army of scholars unlike many students with whom I have worked in the past," Risley said.
Hinds Community College student Tameka Wilson (second from left) chats with mentors Hinds President Clyde Muse (from left), State Rep. Credell Calhoun, D-Jackson, and Hinds Honors instructor and Dean Kristi Sather-Smith at the college's Raymond campus. Wilson was recently elected international president of Phi Theta Kappa, an academic honorary for two-year colleges.
Hinds Community College student Tameka Wilson (second from left) chats with mentors Hinds President Clyde Muse (from left), State Rep.
Wilson was recently elected international president of Phi Theta Kappa, an academic honorary for two-year colleges. (Joe Ellis/The Clarion-Ledger)