Black History Month Staff Spotlight: Nicole Kyles-Burton

Nicole Kyles-Burton

In honor of Black History Month, Lamar University will celebrate with a series of events organized and sponsored by a variety of organizations, departments, clubs and student organizations that highlight and pay tribute to the achievements of African Americans and important events that contributed to U.S. history.

In addition to university events, LU also chose to celebrate Black excellence by spotlighting several Black LU students, faculty and staff and the many reasons why they feel this month is important.

This Black History Month, Nicole Kyles-Burton, career consultant, shares what she's most proud of as a Black individual in her career field.

First/last name: Nicole A. Kyles-Burton         
Current Title: Career Consultant
Department: Center for Career and Professional Development
Why does it feel important to celebrate Black History Month?
It is important to celebrate Black History Month because it belongs to all of US and Black history is often lost in the vapors of time. The impact that Black Americans have made on this country should be a part of our collective awareness and never far away from our present lives. Additionally, it gives everyone an opportunity to acknowledge and show respect to the accomplishments and contributions of Black Americans because those contributions don’t just benefit Black Americans. WE all benefit from the traffic light invented by Garrett Morgan in 1923 and the 300+ inventions George Washington Carver developed amongst scores of others.
What motivates you to be successful?
Eventually finding my passion and making it my purpose is what motivates me to be successful. I try to instill in my students that once you find your passion it stimulates you to do the things necessary to grow and improve. There is nothing more invigorating than when the knowledge and wisdom you have shared is a part of what has made someone else successful.

How long have you worked in higher education and what are you most proud of as a Black individual in your career field?
I have worked in higher education for more than 20 years and I am most proud of those lightbulb moments I have been able to see in so many students. The muteness that turns into hopeful voices, the sadness that turns into happiness and the amazing career success stories.
How does Black history influence your professional or personal life?
Black history influences my life daily and not just during Black History Month. I have always felt that Black history was an American success story; one of survival to preserve our culture and our family. Black history is full of stories of strength, bravery and resiliency that should be shared and preserved so we as a people can draw inspiration from those stories.
What advice do you have for the generations of Black students coming after you?
My advice to the generations of Black students coming after me would be to interact more with all generations and diversify their surroundings. This will give them the awareness and empathy they need to make wiser and more thoughtful decisions. We need this to build new multi-racial, multi-ethical and multi-generational communities.

Did you learn anything new about history in the Black community this year? (this could be personal or broader in a historical sense)
In the Black community this year, Kenneth Williams was appointed the first Black city manager and Sharae Reed was appointed first female Black city attorney. I lived in Austin, Texas, for more than 20 years and I saw how Mr. Williams transformed Buda, Texas, into one of the fastest growing cities in Texas. So, I am very excited to see what he has in store for Beaumont’s growth and economic development. Attorney Reed is a Lamar University alumnus and my department (Center for Career and Professional Development) recently had her back on campus to speak on ethics in the workplace.

Is there anything else that you would like to add?
When it comes to Black history, no one group owns history. We all play a part in it. We say that it’s Black history, but it is really everyone’s history because it makes all of us who we are and you must embrace all of it; the good, the bad and the ugly. Celebrate the victories, learn from the mistakes and don’t repeat those mistakes.