From a child growing up in the ‘60s, experiencing the segregation era first hand, to an educational powerhouse. Bernadette Kelley, Ph.D., has been destined for success since birth.
Kelley was born in Jacksonville however she was raised in Queens, New York and used education as her driven tool to be successful despite her circumstances.
After Kelley was born in Jacksonville, she and her family quickly moved to New York due to racism.
“As a young person of color living in Jacksonville, I rode the back of the bus, both public transportation and the Greyhound bus,” Kelley said. “When shopping downtown, my family had to use those facilities that were designated for colored.
In addition, I remember that we were only able to go to movies and other entertainment venues that were designated for colored people only.”
Kelley holds a plethora of positions as of today, she is a professor at Florida A&M University teaching technology for educators, she also directs dissertations for people getting a Ph.D., she is the deputy director in environmental science grants, she serves as advisor for the FAMU section of the National Council of Negro Women, she is an advisor for Kappa Delta Pi, the international educators fraternity, a mother, and a wife.
Kelley has a B.S. degree in English with a minor in Journalism that she received from Edward Waters College in Jacksonville. She also holds a M.S. degree in Computers in Education from Long Island University-C.W. Post Campus. As well as a Ed. D. from the University of North Florida in Administration and Leadership-cognate in technology.
Kelley enjoyed her college undergraduate years the most. She loved to dance, so that’s how she paid for her undergraduate degree, and she also joined the National Council of Negro Women and pledged Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated and is now a lifetime member of both organizations.
“I didn’t really intend on pledging, but that’s been a good move for me. I’ve been a Delta for almost over forty years,” Kelley said.
Kelley married her high school sweetheart, Charles Spruill. They have two children together, Christopher and Brett. Chris is in his 40s and Brett is in his 30s. After things ended with Spruill, Kelley married Bruce Kelley an engineer from New York. They had no children. She is a grandmother of 16 children. Her grandchildren range in ages of 2-25. Her current husband is Freddie Brown who she started dating in college and have been married since Valentines Day of last year.
Once Kelley was married with kids it became easier for her teach so she did that. She started off teaching middle school and followed her sons through high school. Once her sons graduated she began working on her doctorates. She received her doctorate almost twenty years after obtaining her bachelors.
Kelley taught as a professor at Edward Waters College in Jacksonville while she worked on her doctorates and was recruited by FAMU as a professor in 1995. She later received her doctorate in Administration and Leadership and has been at FAMU since then.
Kelley is still a current resident of Jacksonville, Florida and Long Island, New York, owning homes in both cities. She also owns a home in Tallahassee as she commutes back and forth for work.
With Kelley being in her mid sixties this seems likes a lot but God is her motivator for doing what she does. “ To serve God and to give back to society is what motivates me, and to help young women especially,” Kelley said.
First Vice President of the FAMU section on NCNW, Asia Lovelace couldn’t agree more that Dr. Kelley’s purpose is to serve and give back to young girls.
“Dr. Kelley has been an extremely great mentor, advisor, and role model in my life. I will forever be grateful of her services to this organization and FAMU altogether,” Lovelace said.
Kelley continues to live her life everyday thriving to serve God and give back to those that she can. She spends her free time at the beach near her Jacksonville home and with her husband. Kelley plans to continue climbing the ladder of success and leadership.