Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Michigan is proud to celebrate Local Black Heroes in honor of Black History Month. Join us on social media and our website throughout February to learn more about the impact of local heroes in your community.
Dr. Jeffrey and Valerie Boggan are a dynamic couple. Valerie is the Principal at Kalamazoo Central High School, and Jeff is both the Principal at Maple Street Magnet School for the Arts and the Pastor of Way of Life Family Christian Center. Together and apart, this couple is spreading faith, confidence and positivity throughout our community.
Early Lessons and Wisdom Gained
From an early age, Valerie was taught that “…you have to work twice as hard to get half as much.” Her parents used to say, “You have two strikes against you Valerie, you’re Black and you’re a woman.” But she has grown to embrace these “two perceived stumbling blocks, turning them into stepping stones.”
She flipped the script and when faced with pushback about her success, she would say, “No I got this job because I’m skilled and qualified. Being Black and a woman is a bonus for the company.”
Jeff grew up trying to find the balance between his quiet father and outspoken mother. Setting their different personalities aside, serving, working, and “taking care of business and taking care of your family…” were values they united on.
The Boggans have been together since they were both 17. Jeff jokes that he “infiltrated Kalamazoo” snagging “one of Kalamazoo’s finest” being from Battle Creek himself. He affirms that Valerie would say she “infiltrated Battle Creek” to snag him.
“Leaders Need Leaders”
Throughout their journey, they have both recognized the need to be mentors, and to have mentors. “Leaders need leaders, and pastors need pastors,” Jeff says. “We can’t do what we do by ourselves,” he continues.
Alpha Kappa Alpha
They both serve and mentor through their ministries, schools and several other avenues as well. Valerie is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA, the oldest intercollegiate, historically Black, Greek-lettered sorority), as well as the sorority’s Spiritual Advisor on the campus of Western Michigan University (WMU).
AKA not only gave Valerie a sense of unity and empowerment, but now gives her several ways to serve and give back.
Every year the Boggans host a town hall type event at WMU to connect with AKA members, and answer any questions that they may have. “Questions can be about life, college, relationships…” Valerie says. It is a safe space for these young adults to come and get mentorship.
On Service and Legacy
This couple is a team that has dedicated their life to serving their community. Valerie mentions, “Our service looks different…We aren’t necessarily sweeping the streets or painting houses, because we are sowing into the emotional, social, and intellectual well-being of the children that are going to change this world.
“When we talk to children, we focus on what they can do and we focus on who they are…. We’re always about celebrating… I believe that all things are possible, but you’ve got to believe that it’s possible in order to make it happen.”
In thinking about legacy, Jeff wants everyone that he and Valerie interact with to, “be better when you left than when you came, and to experience God’s love.”
Find Local Black Heroes throughout the month of February on social media and on our website. Visit ThinkBigToday.org/Volunteer for more information about how you can ignite the power and potential of youth in Southwest Michigan.