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Speak Up, Speak Out. Meet B-CU Alumna Terrye Howell

Ms. Terrye Howell has seen a lot in her short time on this Earth. She was born in Daytona Beach in 1958 to then, Bethune Cookman College graduates and educators. After a short stint in Daytona Beach, the family moved to Lake Wales, where Ms. Howell’s mother landed a job. During her youth, justice was always a focal point of the family. “Growing up, we were taught to speak up and speak out, preferably respectfully.” says Ms. Howell. Justice was a huge focal point of the Howell family. Ms. Howell recalls hearing her father calling the FBI to alert them of some local Lake Wales business owners that were not protecting the rights of the citizens. Once Mr. Howell discovered other justice deficiencies within the surrounding cities in Polk County, he reported those as well. Speaking up and speaking out became a mantra, it became necessary. Throughout elementary school, Ms. Howell was bit by the bug to attend BCC (now B-CU). Attending Homecomings, Classics, and other spirited Wildcat get togethers inspired Ms. Howell to make a commitment to BCC. She NEVER felt any other attachment to any other school other than BCC, attending BCC was part of her destiny, after all, it was a family tradition. Ms. Howell majored in Political Science and had a tremendous experience at BCC. She loved college life and felt a tight familial connection to the school, including to Albert Bethune. She says she had a “Security Blanket.” For Ms. Howell, campus life was fun. It was an experience that she is grateful for acquiring. She states that “socialization, conversations, learning to embrace differences, and new friendships” were an integral part of her happiness. She didn’t pledge a sorority during her undergraduate pursuits, but she did pledge AKA Sorority while attending graduate studies. She achieved some balance by “compartmentalizing time by socializing and doing the work. This included a social life (going to the park on 2nd Ave., attending games, going to the beachside) and studying so that my parents would not have to pay for any class twice.”

After obtaining that sweet degree, Ms. Howell returned to Lake Wales and ended up obtaining a job at the Unemployment Office in Winter Haven, Florida. After suffering a knee injury and giving up on aspirations of attending law school, Ms. Howell decided to work in the family business, education. After completing some education courses, she taught elementary school for years, and then retired.

Upon retiring from teaching, there was something still stirring deep within Ms. Howell. Remember that Political Science Degree? It was time to put that to use. Ms. Howell was elected as a City Commissioner of Lake Wales in 2005, and has been in that position ever since. She’s served with pride, integrity, and with a dedication to preserving justice, just like her father. One of her favorite mottos derived right from our founder’s lips, “Without faith, nothing is possible. With it, nothing is impossible.” - Dr. Mary Bethune Mcleod.

Ms. Howell continues to passionately support her beloved B-CU “Because of its legacy, the care it gave my parents, sister, and myself to be successful, and the love it showed its students before me, during my time and after my time. I was a person on campus, and not a number.” It’s people like the Howells that advance the legacy of our founder Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune and instill real change in their communities. We are so grateful to the Howell family and to Ms. Howell for sharing her story with our Wildcat Nation.

Thank you for your tremendous testimony and dedication to public service Wildcat!

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