To celebrate 50 years of coeducation at Kenyon, we’re profiling 50 Kenyon alumnae during the 2019-20 academic year. These 50 women, merely a small sample of the thousands of female graduates who have earned Kenyon degrees since 1969, will discuss their undergraduate experiences and how their education in Gambier prepared them for their lives and careers.
The ninth alumna in our series is Geraldine “Geri” Coleman Tucker ’74. A psychology major at Kenyon, Tucker also served as the first female president of the Black Student Union. After a four-decade career in journalism working for newspapers including USA Today, from which she retired in 2013 as deputy managing editor of the Money section, she continues working today as a freelance writer and editor. A resident of the Washington, D.C. metro area, she has also served on the College’s Board of Trustees.
How do you prioritize your life and get things done?
After a successful career as a journalist, I now enjoy the luxury of choosing the stories I write and edit — and for whom. It is amazingly freeing and fulfilling, writing and editing about topics in which I find merit, from the Flint water crisis, to the plight of domestic workers, to the important work of missionary organizations. Words matter, and their power — when harnessed well — can change hearts and minds. I remain dedicated to and mesmerized by the written word and continue to burnish my craft whenever possible.
Where did you first discover your power?
I first discovered the power of my words when, as a high school student, I wrote an essay on the insidious nature of racism and how it is transmitted — after I was thanked, but called the N-word, by a child after helping him get a drink of water. The Cincinnati Enquirer published it as a Letter to the Editor.
Who at Kenyon inspired you?
Inspiration can come in many ways from myriad sources. Kenyon in the 1970s was still an unwelcoming collegiate frontier of sorts for black students. The courageousness of those first black students who paved the way for me, and those who have trodden Middle Path since, inspire me most. But it would be remiss to not include others who have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with us, including Dean Thomas Edwards and Dean Susan Givens, who both served while I was a student, and [current] President Sean Decatur.
What's the best advice you’ve ever received?
During my senior year, Dr. Charles Rice, who headed the psychology department at the time, suggested I turn my love for writing poetry and fiction into writing professionally as a journalist. The best career advice I ever received.
How has your worldview evolved since leaving Kenyon?
Kenyon’s rigorous liberal arts focus and the love of learning that the College cultivates have enriched my life in so many ways and exposed me to opportunities and individuals I might never had experienced. I am forever grateful for that part of my college experience, and the opportunity to be elected and serve a four-year term as an alumni trustee.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Read about the next woman in our series: Rachel DeLoache Williams ’10