Deep quotes, family, and authentic, genuine relationships are what Dr. Veronica Huggins, assistant professor of social work, lives for. She looks at every day as a beautiful second chance. She serves on the board for Churches Embracing Offenders which provides mentoring to inmates.
She wishes she could live in the Caribbean with year-long spring weather and unlimited amounts of seafood, but who doesn’t? She married her high school sweetheart, Bobby Huggins Jr. and the pair are proud parents of a handsome and charming, 4-year-old son named Blige. She introduced me to the phrase “progress not perfection,” which has become my own personal mantra. Let’s get to know more about Veronica.
What are your current research interests?
Currently, it is self-efficacy among vulnerable populations. With vulnerable populations, I focus on ex-offenders re-acclimating. One thing I’ve found through research is that rehabilitation should start the day of incarceration, but that’s not the case. It usually starts upon release. Environment, friends and family all play a part in perception. A question I often ask is “What do you believe you can do?” You have to understand what you really believe about yourself and your abilities.
I’ve also looked at self-efficacy and the effect on students of color at predominantly white institutions in Kentucky and Indiana.
Tell me about your hobbies or interests.
I enjoy singing and plays, especially gospel plays. I like Broadway plays too, but there’s just something about gospel plays. I enjoy family, and when I say family, I don’t mean just bloodline, I mean anybody who is significant to me. I also enjoy mentoring.
What are the top qualities that draw you to people?
Authenticity, genuineness and caring. I’m attracted to people whose authenticity is not circumstantial. They are who they are regardless of the situation or audience.
What are your three favorite albums and why?
One is, Anthony Hamilton, Ain’t Nobody Worryin’. It speaks to your soul. It talks about love and Hamilton’s perspective of love. I love that album and he’s an amazing singer. Next, is Lyfe Jennings, Lyfe 268-192. He was inmate, and that was his inmate number. This guy went to jail and came out and told his story. These people have stories too, they just haven’t had the resources for people to tap into their positive qualities. Lastly, is Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. This album came out in 1998. I was in undergrad my freshman year and every person in the room had that album on heavy rotation. She doesn’t need an introduction. There’s many more, but those are the albums I could put on and listen to from the first song to the last and sing as hard as I can.
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
I think it would be in the Caribbean, but with U.S. resources. I love the water. I need blue crabs and shrimp. Any place I can have clean, turquoise water, seafood, and year-round spring weather is fine with me. Wherever that is, is where I need to be.
When you’re having a bad day, what do you do to make yourself feel better?
I reflect on where I could have been, and how I have been able to sustain. When I’m having a really bad day, I think about what others may be dealing with and remember that my problems, I can change. I can remove myself from my situations.” I tell myself, “If you’re upset about something you can change; it is a choice.”
What is the title of the current chapter in your life?
The current chapter in my life is “You Made it Out, Now What?” I’m very grateful that I am where I am, but I feel very accountable.
What is a tradition that you had as a child that you still do today?
My mom, even though she worked three jobs, always made time for what was significant to her. We always ate at the dinner table for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and we always said our grace. We were really big in our faith. We went to church together and ate together, and I definitely have that in my family. There’s no electronics at the table. I want to hear about my son’s day and be present in the moment.
What is something about life that people don’t appreciate as much as they should?
The simple things like health, strength and the beauty of a second chance. Every day can be a new beginning. That’s how I live my life. You can dwell in the past, but it will definitely impact your future. I had a professor who said “The most complicated thing in life is simplicity.”
Photo Credit: Provided
Dr. Veronica Huggins and her son, Blige and husband, Bobby Huggins Jr.