Dr. Ingrid Sellers - A Lifetime in Education
by Natalie Franklin
A quality education has the potential to change your life. An education can be the reason one lands their dream job. It can open your eyes to new experiences. An education can even take an individual across an ocean. Dr. Ingrid Sellers is a prime example of the growth and success that comes from the desire to educate yourself.
Dr. Ingrid Sellers came from humble beginnings. She and her five siblings were raised by hardworking, blue-collar parents in Kingston, Jamaica. Her mother was a seamstress and her father was a telecommunication technician. Now, Sellers is the president of South Georgia State College.
Sellers attended the University of the West Indies - Mona in Kingston Jamaica, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physics with a minor in computer science. She left Jamaica to pursue an education in the United States. When asked why she matriculated to United States’ universities to pursue her education, Sellers said, “It was about educational opportunities and being able to have more choices.”
She completed her Master’s degree in telecommunications at Iona College in New Rochelle, NY, and later earned a Ph.D. in educational technology from Georgia State University.
“I chose the path of S.T.E.M [Science. Technology. Engineering. Mathematics] because that was where my love was and still is,” Sellers said.
Dr. Ingrid Sellers, President of South Georgia State College
Sellers is a first generation college graduate, meaning that she was the first member of her family to attend and graduate from college.
“I was a first-generation student from a bluecollared family with no social or financial legacy to fall back on,” Sellers said. “I had good values instilled in me, a love for learning, and a passion to give back.”
Her love for learning and her dedication to education landed her the role of president of South Georgia State College in 2017. Sellers began her career in higher education in 1995 when she started teaching as an adjunct professor. From there, she held several leadership positions at colleges across the state of Georgia including department chair, dean of academic services and interim vice president.
Currently, as president of South Georgia State College, Sellers strives to advocate for students, staff and faculty and the community at large. She utilizes a servant leadership role and prioritizes inclusivity to ensure all students feel welcomed.
“Education is important because it changes a person’s life,” Sellers said. “It opens doors, creates opportunities, and oftentimes levels the playing field of the game of life for most of us. I can attest to that based on the fact that had it not been for the educational opportunities that I received, I would never be where I am personally, socially, or professionally today.”
In her role as president, Sellers continuously works to bolster educational opportunities for her students. She collaborates with various entities to better those opportunities and help students reach their full potential.
Sellers has worked in higher education for over two decades. She believes she has a “natural ability” for teaching and mentoring. Sellers’ first professional experience was actually in the corporate world; however, her favorite part of that job was when she was able to train and teach people.
“I had an opportunity to switch careers...and then I decided that I wanted to explore teaching,” Sellers explained.
She started teaching K-12 and was an adjunct college professor at night, and now 25 years later, she is president of a college. Although Sellers is not technically in the classroom anymore, she is constantly teaching and mentoring students.
“My approach is for all the students, or all the young people I come into contact with, I use it as a teaching moment for them,” Sellers said.
And even in these uncertain times, where COVID-19 has changed the way we contact one another and changed the way colleges and universities operate, Sellers still remains positive and invested in her students.
“Since the onset of the pandemic caused by COVID-19, I have seen higher education move towards being less traditional and more agile in adopting new ways of operating and serving students,” Sellers said. “Change has been very rapid, and I have witnessed resiliency and a sense of urgency amongst the younger generation.”
Sellers gives so much credit to her students and acknowledges the hard work she is seeing in this young generation. She recognizes their intelligence and their willingness to move forward. Sellers also mentioned that as educators, she and her colleagues have to be prepared to shift their practices and worldviews in order to remain relevant.
“I have the best team ever,” Sellers said. “I see a lot of flexibility with the faculty. I see a lot of forward thinking from the faculty.”
COVID-19 has caused radical changes and major shifts in most industries, including higher education. It should come as no surprise that many students are struggling with the current state of learning. Sellers recognizes these difficulties and offers some advice.
“I would like to encourage all learners to be persistent and consistent in their efforts,” Sellers said. “Embrace the tenets of a growth mindset where you continuously focus on learning and putting forward your best effort. Sometimes the outcomes might not reflect your efforts exactly, but keep going, and you will eventually reap the rewards.”
A “growth mindset,” an education, a willingness to learn or whatever one wants to call it, will take one far in life. As Dr. Ingrid Sellers very well knows, it may even take one across an ocean.