In 1972 Pearl Robinson Goins made history. She became the first African American woman to graduate from Lincoln Memorial University. When choosing schools, she felt LMU had a good reputation. That wasn’t the strongest factor in making her decision though. Originally from Tazewell, Tennessee, Goins wanted to stay close to home. “I did not have enough confidence to move away and live among strangers.”
Goins majored in education, and she participated in a wide rage of extracurricular activities. She joined the Delta Theta Sigma sorority, the service group Gamma Sigma Sigma, the Student National Education Association, the Lincoln Memorial University Advisory Board and the Career Awareness Committee. She has been the director of the Glenwood EXCEL program, a representative on the Literacy Council and a member of her church’s Usher Board. Her honors include being named Oak Ridge Teacher of the Year for K-4 and an Outstanding Young Woman in America.
It was at LMU where Goins came in contact with two of the greatest influences in her life: Charles West, who served as dean of students, and President Herbert Livesay. “These two gentlemen went out of their way to make me feel comfortable. Dr. Livesay would always greet me with a warm smile and inquire how everything was going. Mr. West was always there for me whether it was to offer encouragement or just a shoulder to cry on.”
In 1971, even before her graduation from LMU, Goins began her career as a preschool teacher in Claiborne County. Later, she taught at Claiborne County’s Soldiers’ Memorial Middle School and New Tazewell School. In her spare time, Goins worked as a reading instructor of LMU’s Upward Bound program. In 1990, Goins began teaching at Glenwood Elementary in Greenville, Tennessee, and in the summer of 2001, she was named principal of Glenwood.
Although Goins has seen many achievements over the years, she still counts her graduation from LMU as one of her greatest moments in life. “I was the first one in my family to receive a college degree,” she said. Education has remained a value to Goins. She continued her personal education by receiving the Master of Education in Administration and Supervision and the educational specialist degree from LMU.