by Gail Washington
When the late evening hours find most people winding down from a busy day, it is just getting started for Callie Herd. A native of Memphis, she is the creative force behind http://www.ctherd.blogspot.com/, a web-based resource that provides valuable information to parents and students seeking advice and guidance on the college preparation and application process.
“My blog is actually the result of some soul-searching that I was doing as I faced the reality of my mother having cancer in the early ‘90’s. It allowed me to see that each of us has a purpose in life and that we must seek it,” said Herd.
Several years ago, Herd began working in various capacities as a community volunteer for FedEx Corporate Neighbor Teams. At her mother’s urging, she later began to look for ways to involve her family in community service works and soon she and her children were volunteering at the National Civil Rights Museum.
“I was asked to coordinate volunteers for the National Civil Rights Museum here in Memphis as the FedEx liaison,” she recalled.
One of her initial tasks was to help in recruiting volunteers to help in the funeral activities for the late Alex Haley, renowned author of “Roots.” Herd helped recruit over one hundred FedEx employee volunteers in just two hours. Her dedication and boundless energy resulted in her being named the first Civic Affairs chairperson for one of the FedEx Corporate Neighbor Teams.
With the conviction that college was a must for her children, Herd began to direct much of her energy toward “everything that I could to make sure that they were ready. And to do this, I had to know or have access to a lot of information. So I started researching to be better able to help them.”
It wasn’t long before she was coordinating college preparation programs for her church, World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church, and at Hickory Hill Community Center with the help of her friend Ivy Caldwell.
In 2004, Herd learned about the Symposium on Career Opportunities in Biomedical Sciences through a friend, Debra Westbrook. Launched in 1987, the Symposium is a project sponsored by the Association of Minority Health Professions Schools (AMHPS) and is aimed at generating interest in biomedical sciences and health-care professions among young students. At the time, Fred Hamilton served as the Nashville-based representative for the Symposium.
“I was asked to recruit one hundred Tennessee high schools students to attend the Symposium each year. Even though it was an all-expenses paid trip, we always came up short,” he said.
“When we were put in touch with Callie, she turned out to be a windfall for us. Not only did she quickly emerge herself into the task, we met our quota primarily because of her efforts,” said Hamilton.
“(Callie was) super dedicated, always making sure that no deserving child gets left out simply because they did not have access to information.”
Herd became the Memphis coordinator on behalf of AMHPS and its annual Symposium.
“We start taking applications for the Symposium each August. Parents and students can sign up for updates by subscribing to my blog,” she said.
Prior to launching the blog, Herd worked hard and eventually compiled an email list of five hundred-plus people who sought information on college preparation. Managing the list, however, sometimes proved daunting, often requiring enormous amounts of time.
“Sleep became a real luxury because I would be up so late at night making sure that information got out to people,” she said.
Ronald Herd, her son and “right hand man,” suggested that she distribute information through a blog rather than bulk email. In 2006, ctherd.blogspot.com was born.
Today, parents and students regularly visit Herd’s blog from across the nation and Canada, including California, Georgia, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington, D.C. It has also been featured on other prominent Web sites including http://www.streetpositive.com/ and http://www.blackcollegeexpo.com/.
The audience includes undergraduate, graduate and non-traditional students. The time required to maintain the blog now ranges from thirty hours per week to up to eighty hours per week during peak periods, usually when school starts and in March.
Herd’s blog is featured on the Web site for the Black College Expo and she was an official presenter at the 2007 and 2008 conferences in Atlanta.
“She was phenomenal. She really demystifies the college preparation process,” said Theresa Price, Expo founder. “The sharing of her own experience as a single parent getting her own children ready for college has been a blessing to everyone. People like to hear real-life stories and it helps them to see that the same is possible for them.”
Ahead for Herd, who serves on the board of directors for Memphis Challenge and is an active member of the Memphis graduate chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., is the launch of IAM-Inspiring Academic Motivation. The organization is designed to provide seminars, workshops and training services to churches and organizations in need of advice in setting up college preparation programs.
(For more information about programs or services offered by Sis. Herd, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Gift To Class Of 2009 & Others: