For D. Necole Toney, timing is everything. A native of Jayess, Ms., and current resident of New Orleans, Toney, who is the second youngest of four siblings always knew what she was capable of if given an opportunity. A graduate of Southern Mississippi with a Master’s in Mass Communications with a concentration in Public Relations, Toney has spent 14 years in Career Services helping guide students through the process of determining the next step in their after college journey.
Of the 14 years working in Career Services, Toney spent 10 years at Antonelli College prior to her new role at Dillard University during which time many friendships were made and bonds established. In 2019, with unknowns surrounding the future of the small college, Toney decided to move to New Orleans in search of better opportunities; although the adjustment period in leaving a place she called home for so many years was hard. “I made so many amazing friendships just to find out randomly there was rumors the college was about to close.” Toney shared with blkpreneurship.com. “I was devastated. I didn’t take it to well. I invested so much time into building those relationships, becoming comfortable, building my career, for it all to be snatched away in a blink of an eye.”
The move to New Orleans in October of 2019 allowed Toney to refocus her energy on what was important to her. Family oriented environments. A woman of faith, and strong believer in divine purpose, Toney’s father Dwain instilled in her at a very young age “You can’t catch blessings by holding on to things you love so tightly. Open up your hands to allow for new things to fall in.” After transitioning from Antonelli College to Tulane University, Toney, who would spend two years at the University located in the uptown area of New Orleans, knew that in order to find the purpose she desired a new job search was required.
“The demographic of the students there (Antonelli College) was very different. Most of them were non-traditional college students looking to better their lives. Us (staff and administration) being able to play a part in them taking those steps to bettering their lives helped me realize what my purpose was. We are all here for a purpose. We are all here to serve in some capacity.” Toney asserted. “I was blessed to find an opportunity at Tulane University and I met some amazing people there. Made some amazing friends but I was not content because I knew I was destined to do more. There was more I felt like I was supposed to be doing.
Over a two year period, Toney continued searching for what was missing in her life. Purpose. Applying for multiple jobs and receiving countless interviews, Toney, who remembers all of times she had been told ‘No’ began to question herself during the process although she knew she was more than capable of accomplishing great things. It was not until a job listing at Dillard University, which peaked the interest of Toney, would finally set in motion what she had been seeking all along. An opportunity to fulfill her purpose.
“During the transition where everyone was working from home I happened to see a position at Dillard University come across a job board and I said I am going to apply for it (laugh) and I did.” Toney explained to blkpreneurship.com. “At that point I was so used to being told No, No, No, and one of my friends just reminded me what is for you is going to be for you. It’s not going to happen when you want it to. It’s going to happen when you need it to.”
And happened it did. Toney, who went through a lengthy onboarding process with the University located in the Gentilly area of New Orleans, remembers the moment she became the new Director for the Center of Professional and Career Development at Dillard University. “I did the initial interview over zoom. I felt comfortable during the first interview although I was nervous. I didn’t want to blow this shot because this is something I really wanted.” Toney said. A second interview followed, and soon, Toney began to realize the more time she spent with her now colleagues, the more she knew this role was part of her destiny.
“The language that they (Dillard officials) used and the way that we talked, it did not seem like a final interview. It seemed like I was getting instructions on what I was supposed to do when I got there. One of my colleagues, who is a good friend now, when he saw me he said, “Oh great. I am so glad it’s going to be you.”
Now flourishing in her new role as Director for the Center of Professional and Career Development, Toney reveals the shared vision between herself and Administration in helping students progress toward their careers after college. “I want the centers to become more student focused, more progressive, and keeping up with the times and trends the students are in.” Toney stated. “Not every student wants to go work for a corporation. Not every student wants to do the traditional jobs. While there are students who desire to do those things (jobs), we also don’t need to forget about this group or this unique set of individuals who have different visions for life and provide them with the same resources and opportunities we are providing the traditional students.”
It’s these resources and opportunities that Toney ultimately hopes to provide for students during her time at Dillard University. “The thing I want to accomplish is being able to say that I have done my part to positively impact students, whether it was providing information to them or connecting them to the right people to give them what I can not give them.” Toney said.
In retrospect, Toney now realizes no matter how many times she had been told ‘No,’ it was one simple ‘Yes’ that made the difference. A simple ‘Yes,’ which has now placed her where she always wanted to be. A place of destiny and purpose. “All of the other positions that I applied for, I was told ‘No’ because that was not what I was supposed to be doing in life.”
For Toney, doing what she is supposed to do in life is all that matters to her.
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