Dr. Keba Rogers: A beacon of wisdom
ALEXANDRIA JOHNSON | 7/16/2020, midnight
Noting the many ways she helps people, from speaking to mentees at the University of Buffalo to supporting a former colleague to continue her education, friends of Dr. Keba Rogers say she is an inspirational person willing to share advice with anyone who needs it.
Growing up in Mount Vernon as the second oldest, Rogers attended University of Buffalo with the intention of becoming a physical therapist. After taking chemistry, she realized that she did not want to pursue the field and began searching for a different career path.
She changed her major to Community Health, which was for students interested in social work, and she minored in Africana Studies. She also interned with a school psychologist who not only utilized mediation and conflict resolution but also made sure that kids in special education classes had the resources they needed to do their best. Having that experience made her want to follow in the same footsteps.
“As communities of color, we don’t usually have the language to express what we’re going through, so it’s important that we have mental health providers who can help us with this,” Rogers said. “My purpose is to help people heal in a way that’s not shameful or embarrassing, but normal.”
She met Kevin Cherry through a multicultural leadership program for which they were both selected. As students who performed well academically, they were chosen to help incoming first-years acclimate to the new community at the university.
The leadership program lasted for two years. In the first year, students wrote papers and engaged in leadership activities, while in the second year, they spoke with mentees they were paired with.
Cherry, who has known Dr. Rogers for more than 20 years, mentioned how his friend is a vocal advocate for others.
“Keba was never afraid to speak her mind,” Cherry said of his longtime friend. “She’s always a voice for the voiceless and she continues to do that but in another way now.”
Their friendship continued even after the leadership program because they decided to start a club together called the Hip-Hop Student Association. The mission of the organization was to debunk the myths of the music genre, and it made sure to include voices from multiple groups outside of the Black community.
Rogers returned to University of Buffalo for her master’s and doctorate degrees. After finishing her education, she received her credentials as both a New York State licensed psychologist and a nationally certified school psychologist.
She worked as a counselor in the Community Consultation and Intervention department at Cornell University, where she met Dr. Cason, one of her closest friends.
Rogers and Cason were in a women of color colleague network group when Cason was a residence hall director of one of the dorms at the university. She invited Rogers to speak with students at the dorm because she wanted to encourage them to seek out mental help and see Black counselors.
Cason credits Rogers for supporting her when she decided to return to school for her doctorate degree.
“Keba has always been a friend and mentor to me,” Cason said. “She is willing to impart valuable wisdom to anyone who is interested in listening.”
Their friendship continued even after Rogers’ departure from Cornell. Cason now works as the training and education coordinator at the Office of Institutional Equity and Title IX at the university.
Rogers started her own private practice called Grace, Growth and Greatness Psychological Services in September 2019, where she provides individual therapy for both children and adults. In our first interview, she noted the lack of Black psychologists and how she wants to be a resource for clients who want to discuss race and identity.
She spoke about inviting her family to the opening and their reaction to her career.
“They were very proud,” Rogers said. “Being a first generation college graduate and the first doctor in my family is definitely a sense of pride.”
In our first interview, Rogers also mentioned that some of her clients are Black people who are in primarily white spaces and who face challenges in bringing their authentic self to situations.
“I want to encourage people to step into their authenticity and use aspects of who they are that make them feel good while addressing their issues,” Rogers stated.