For Dr. Carolyn Ryals, a deep life-long passion for education stems from segregation’s depriving her of it when she was young.

Today, most Americans assume access to education as an entitlement. But for Carolyn, education was a privilege, one she reflected upon every day while riding a train to a distant school because the one in her Southwest Florida hometown of Boca Grande was segregated.

“It’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re going,” Carolyn says, recalling the maxim that motivated her to continue pushing forward through the obstacles she faced.

The adversity Carolyn experienced in gaining an education reaffirmed two things for her: She wanted to dedicate her life to education, and she wanted to provide that opportunity to others.

Her academic achievements are a reflection of the promise she made to herself. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Florida A&M University, a master’s in education from Indiana University, and a doctorate in education from Nova Southeastern University.

Carolyn is the owner of KopyKat Copy Center, located near FAMU’s campus. She also spearheads “Passion for Reading,” serves on the boards of the Tallahassee Shelter and the C. K. Steele Sr. Foundation, and volunteers with Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. She has served on the Tallahassee Mayor’s Task Force to End Homelessness and the Coalition for the Homeless.

Carolyn has had the privilege of passing her passion and dedication to three more generations – her daughter, two granddaughters, and a great-granddaughter.

Asked where she derives her strength and grace from, Dr. Ryals points to her faith. “God told us to do two things: love him and love others. That’s how I live my life.”