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Featured Grad: Tiffany Porter-Talbert ’19A

Featured Grad: Tiffany Porter-Talbert ’19A

Tiffany Porter-Talbert

Program: Master of Arts in Management: Developing Leader Coaches Capstone


Hometown: Culver City, CA


Current Job: Assistant Coach for Western Kentucky University Women’s Basketball


What will be your biggest takeaway from your Doane experience? 


Self-discovery was an essential takeaway and key to becoming the best version of myself in all aspects of life. Therefore, the biggest takeaway from my Doane experience is to continue appreciating others, building genuine relationships, capitalizing on my strengths while discovering and facing every weakness/shadow belief that tries to stand in my way. All while living a balanced life full of serenity and happiness.  


If you had to pick one, what was the most beneficial class you took at Doane and why? 


There is no way I can choose just one because the two most beneficial classes I took at Doane were BUS 785 and BUS 786 in the Developing Leader Coaches (DLC) Capstone. Both courses challenged me to step outside my comfort zone in a way I have never done before, especially when discovering “shadow beliefs” and the “being experience.” I would describe BUS 785 as my introductory culture shock to uncomfortable levels of self-awareness, shadow beliefs, and uncharted territory. Both classes also helped me to live in serenity through high levels of stress and adversity.  Honest self-evaluations have been essential to the growth process in my DLC journey and I look forward to continued growth. 


Who was your favorite Doane professor and why? 


Professor Steve Rathman taught Leadership in Political, Social, and Economic Contexts and he was my favorite professor. He is a police officer by day and a Doane professor by night. Our assignments were unconventional and challenged my thoughts on various positive and negative leadership profiles. Professor Rathman was also flexible, understanding and spoke highly about his experience in the DLC program. Upon completion of my personal DLC experience, I understand why he is such a strong advocate. 


How do you hope to utilize your degree after graduation? 


After graduation, I hope to utilize my MAM degree by continuing my exploratory journey in discovering the type of transformational leader I strive to be in collegiate coaching. Managing, understanding and building genuine relationships with our student-athletes is vital to my success as an emerging leader in my professional career.


How were you able to balance the strenuous workload of being a student in addition to coaching college basketball?


Balancing the strenuous workload of being a student in addition to coaching college basketball was grueling and overwhelming, yet life-changing. At times I felt as if I was drowning in the raging waters of the impossible, but my “grind it out” mentality, along with the support of family, mentors, coaches, and friends helped me to stay afloat through it all. Learning about the “being experience” in BUS 785 was also a major part of balancing it all because it taught me about de-stressing strategies and intentional goal setting. Balance also came from the advice of one of my favorite mentors, Kyra Elzy, who inspired me to take “pockets of time” for myself. 


Former Doane Women’s Basketball Head Coach, Tracee Fairbanks, was another mentor who once shared a beautiful story, from founder Alex Sheen, with our 2017 team titled “because I said I would.” These promise card stories were a big inspiration in pushing me through the finish line because they helped me to create promises of my own, which is why I decorated my graduation cap with the words “because I said I would.” It was a part of the visual imagery that I wore as a wristband every day to inspire myself in tough times. Ultimately, the culmination of my loving and supportive village, especially my mom, is how I was able to catch my breath, after swimming to the surface, to make it to my graduation day. Each challenge I faced was necessary for the overall growth I made in such a short time, and I would do it all again if I had to, “because I said I would.” 


Who or what will you miss most about Doane and why?


What I miss most about Doane is learning from my mentor, Tracee Fairbanks, and the people I met through being a graduate assistant coach for the Doane Women’s Basketball program. Although my time at Doane was short-lived in only one basketball season, I developed relationships at the university that will stand the test of time. I am truly grateful for my Doane experience and proud to now be a Doane Alum!


How did your time at Doane shape you into the person you are today? 

Transformational leader and mentor, Tracee Fairbanks, was one of the key individuals who helped shape the foundation for the kind of college coach I desire to be. That was the beginning of Doane helping to mold me into the self-aware person I am today. I learned so much about myself in DLC and will continue to apply the practical exercises and activities we were assigned to bettering myself throughout my personal life and professional career. 


What would your advice be to someone considering balancing a full-time job with going to school? 


My advice to someone considering balancing a full-time job with going to school would be to not only set, but write down intentional goals, and to take some time to learn about the “being experience.” Understanding my ability to just “be” at peace without any stress or worrying thoughts allowed me to remain positive and productive in times filled with adversity. Rejuvenation was refreshing and necessary for me to grind out the day, so as my mentor, Kyra Elzy, told me, take “pockets of time” for yourself to just “be.”


You finished your Master of Arts in Management online from Kentucky. How important was that flexibility to you?


Although I began my Master of Arts in Management on ground in Nebraska, the option to transfer and complete the program online allowed me to accept my new assistant coaching position at WKU while pursuing my MAM degree. Being a college coach requires hours that are guaranteed to be unconventional, therefore, flexibility was extremely important for me to reach my goal. I was able to schedule my hours to work on assignments and it was most critical when I could not finish them until all other work tasks were done in the middle of the night. Working at my own pace was an area I had to remain disciplined in, but in the end, the flexibility of online classes was worth it. Without this level of flexibility, I would not have been able to complete any master’s program, and that would have prevented me from walking across the stage on December 15, 2019, as a Doane graduate. 


What made you decide to come all the way from Kentucky to walk at graduation?


Coming from Kentucky to walk at graduation was important to me because of the hard work I put into getting to the finish line. It turned out to be one of the most joyous and fulfilling moments since I started in 2017. I was determined to walk across the stage when I began the program at Doane. Thinking about accomplishing my goal of being hooded and walking across the stage in two years was my light at the end of the tunnel.  Roadblocks may have attempted to discourage me from reaching my ultimate goal, but my determination to walk at commencement was my driving force. I am thankful for our Head Women’s Basketball Coach at WKU, Greg Collins because we had a game against Samford on graduation day, but he understood the importance of that moment for me too, so I am appreciative of his support.


What does Earning Your Shield mean to you?


Earning My Shield is special to me because a “shield” is defined as a piece of metal or another suitable material, held by straps or a handle attached on one side, used as a protection against blows of missiles. The battle began for me when a piece of Doane armor was placed in my hand on the Crete campus as an opportunity to “Earn My Shield” keep. I fought through endless sleepless nights, limited time for assignment completion, difficult work-life balances, death in the family and the near loss of a loved one, mental exhaustion, and so much more. Every obstacle I fought to overcome made my Doane Shield stronger and brought me one step closer to earning the rights to the shield I carried with me on the battlefield. December 15, 2019, was when I officially “Earned My Shield,” which is now a protective piece of armor and education that can never be taken away. The battle to get to the finish line will not be forgotten, but the scars my shield endured in the process are what I will hold in my heart as constant reminders that I do not want anything to be given to me. I intend to “Earn Every Shield” by staying determined in my pursuit of bettering myself and positively impacting others.