Timeka Gordon influences America's future leaders By Drew Mitchell

Timeka Gordon has worked at TCU for 12 years. She is the director for Inclusiveness & Intercultural Services and director of the Community Scholars Program. She has spent her career inspiring young students from marginalized communities to pursue higher education to become more successful and provide themselves with a better life.

Sophomore political science major Tiony Cooper, who is Gordon's first cousin, said some people may not realize how much Gordon cares about her job and her students because she does a lot of “behind-the-scenes work” that goes unnoticed.

Jamartae Jackson, the program coordinator for the office of inclusiveness and intercultural services, echoed Cooper. He said Gordon deserves more credit for the work she does at TCU.

Jackson also said it is important for people like Gordon to be at TCU because she allows people to be themselves, and she pushes students to be better.

“She’s amazing,” he said. “She will continue to reach students, faculty and staff for the rest of her career. I can only imagine the lives she’ll impact in the next 10 to 20 years.”

Recently, Gordon has been recognized for her service to students.

In 2019, Gordon received the Wassenich Award for Mentoring for mentoring students outside of her role in the IIS. She was also one of three finalists for the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award in 2018.

Gordon said her passion for students wasn't always her planned career path, but her college experience made her realize she was meant to help students. Leading up to that, though, she went through a series of life changes before deciding on her career path.

Early childhood

Gordon was born July 26, 1979, in Texarkana, Texas, to two undergraduates at the University of North Texas. She has an identical twin sister, a younger sister and two younger brothers. Gordon and her siblings lived with her grandmother for a few years while her parents finished college at UNT.

After her parents graduated and before her father went to seminary school, her family moved to Fort Worth, where she attended a private school for two years.

Gordon and her twin sister, LaKesha Brown, are both in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. (Photo courtesy of Timeka Gordon)

Gordon said growing up as a preacher’s kid was interesting because her parents were very strict when it came to academic achievement. She said her family spent a lot of time in church, and because she was the eldest child, she was expected to be a role model for her four siblings.

“We were always told that education was important, so the expectation was that we were going to go to college. There were no if, ands or buts about that,” she said. “My parents expected good grades, so the pressure of having to make A's and B's was always there for all of us.”

Her family moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, after Gordon’s father received a job with American Airlines. Gordon and her siblings began attending public schools and lived in North Carolina for 11 years.

Gordon said her dad was a financial provider, but he wasn’t there for her emotionally. Her mother was more of the nurturer, she said.

High school

Gordon’s family moved to Flower Mound, Texas, during her sophomore year of high school, and she began attending Lewisville High School.

As college neared, she and her twin sister set their eyes on attending a historically Black college or university (HBCU).

“When we moved to Flower Mound from Raleigh, North Carolina, we attended a predominantly white church, so we were craving and wanting that HBCU Black culture and Black community experience,” she said.

She ended up attending the University of Texas at Arlington because it was more affordable.

College life

Gordon wanted to be a dancer when she arrived at UTA but changed her major to radio-television-film.

She interned with record labels like Arista Records and Jive Records for three years during college and had job offers in New York City upon graduation. However, the jobs did not provide the financial security she wanted, and she found herself being more drawn to multicultural affairs.

“I was always that one friend that people came to talk to because I was a good listener," Gordon said.

Rather than taking a job, she decided to continue school, pursuing master’s program in counseling and becoming an academic adviser at UTA.

Gordon said at the time, she was the only Black academic adviser, so she saw all of the students of color and taught them about how to navigate college life. It was there where she said she realized the importance of having someone of color in higher education for minority students.

Beginning a career

Gordon married her husband, Army veteran Haywood Gordon, in 2004.

She said they dated four months before they were engaged and married three months later. She also said her parents were shocked because she rarely brought her boyfriends home, but they embraced her husband because they felt he was the right person for her.

Gordon and her husband, Haywood Gordon, on their wedding day in 2004. (Photo courtesy of Timeka Gordon)

“He has a good spirit, he’s kind hearted and he’s all the things parents would want as a partner for their daughter," Gordon said. "We didn’t need to date 50,000 years to know.”

After teaching students to navigate college life at UTA for four years, Gordon came to TCU in August 2008 as the assistant director for the IIS while also overseeing the Community Scholars Program.

Since she came to TCU, Gordon has been promoted as the director for IIS and the Community Scholars program.

Cooper, Gordon’s first cousin, said she doesn’t remember a time Gordon wasn’t in her life. She also said Gordon acts as a maternal figure for community scholars on campus.

A picture of Tiony Cooper and Timeka Gordon when Cooper was a baby. (Photo courtesy of Tiony Cooper)

“Being that she is one of my only cousins that is college educated, her and her sister have always been those people I looked to for guidance and answers,” Cooper said. “She’s just been a guiding light in my life for a very long time.”

Jackson, who has worked under Gordon in the IIS since 2016, said Gordon has given him the space to be himself in his career.

“She’s an individual that, whenever you’re having a bad day, she can make it brighter, whenever you’re in a situation where you don’t know what to do, she provides direction, and whenever you’re hurting or in pain, she provides comfort,” he said.

Gordon is now pursuing her Ph.D. in higher education leadership at TCU, and she said she plans on finishing soon. She said her ultimate goal is to be the president of an HBCU.

"The legacy that I hope to leave behind is one that encourages students to go beyond what they think is their limit and reach their fullest God-given potential and purpose," she said. "To do this, you have to have a love for it because every day is not easy. It’s not for the faint of heart for sure, but you have to wake of every morning knowing that your purpose is bigger than yourself.”

Timeka Gordon talks about voting on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, when students went to vote early on a trip organized by The Office of Multicultural & International Student Services. (Heesoo Yang/Staff Photographer)