Rosa Kittrell Barksdale
School of New Resources
Class of 1975

Never take anything for granted. Acquire the taste for excellency; this will separate you from mediocrity.  Be truthful, admit and recognize your mistakes. One learns from their mistakes, and it empowers them.

The Secret of My Success: Rosa Kittrell Barksdale SNR'75
By Rasheed Oluwa, Pelham Patch
November 10, 2011

The Mount Vernon native has transformed the Pelham-based Barksdale Home Care Services, Corp., into one of the area's largest home care agencies. The agency employs a field staff of registered nurses, home health aides, companions and personal care aides.

Rosa Kittrell Barksdale was born in Mount Vernon and graduated from A.B. Davis High School in Mount Vernon, The Long Island Hospital School of Nursing in Boston, and earned her Bachelor’s Degree from The College of New Rochelle.

In 1982, she opened Pelham-based Barksdale Home Care Services, Corp.  The agency eventually contracted with the state Department of Social Services to provide Medicaid home care services in 1986.  In 1989, the agency was certified by the state Department of Health to train home health aides, and in 1993, a subsidiary was formed to offer IV infusion services.  In 1993, the agency was accredited by The Joint Commission, leading all other licensed agencies in the county by being the first to be so acknowledged.

Rosa has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership including the Westchester County American Red Cross Power of Humanity Award; the Women in Business Award from the White Plains YWCA; and the Westchester County Business Person of the Year citation given by The African American Chamber of Commerce.

Her new book, The Intuitive Entrepreneur, was released in September of 2011. She is married to Leroy Barksdale.  She has a son, Rudy Davis, who is employed by Delta Airlines in Atlanta and a daughter Kellye Jan Davis, a national health columnist and news correspondent.

What drew you to your profession?

I wasn’t necessarily interested in becoming a nurse; what I really wanted to do was become a teacher, but with seven children in the family and three already in college; there was no money for college and the Nursing School offered me a college scholarship.

As it turned out, there were things that I liked very much about nursing school; it was actually a blessing in disguise, because it helped me develop my care giving qualities.  Nursing gives me the opportunity to tend for people who need help.  It makes me feel that I am doing something worthwhile, which makes me feel really good about myself.  I got something very important out of Nursing School training that would enable me to always have an admirable profession and that would lead me into a highly demanded field.

As the CEO of a licensed Home Care Agency, I’ve been fulfilled because I believe I’m providing a needed service that is extremely important to my clients’ personal health needs and also training and developing qualified personnel to deliver this care.  I thrive on these demands that sustain me every day.

How did/do you balance your career with family life?

Earlier in my career, my family was complaining about the long hours I’d spend in my office and late evening calls when I got home. My social life also disappeared because the business required virtually all of my waking hours.  I soon learned that there was an imbalance and was able to work and separate work and family life to find valuable time to relax and spend quality time with my husband, children and extended family.

If you could change one career decision you’ve made, what would it be?

My ultimate goal was to be a teacher, but fate took me into another direction.  I took a Nursing scholarship because money was scarce in my family.  With three siblings already in college, I didn’t want to add additional financial burdens on my parents.   As one of seven children, we were taught early that higher education was a necessity for survival.

What are some key lessons you've learned in your professional and personal life that you think everyone can learn from?

Never take anything for granted. Acquire the taste for excellency; this will separate you from mediocrity.  Be truthful, admit and recognize your mistakes. One learns from their mistakes, and it empowers them.

What are the three most important things a person needs to be successful? Why?

1) Know your craft. One must be an expert in their craft and have professional skills and technical knowledge of the field they are going into. If you don’t have professional skills, then how would you be able to communicate it?

2) Ability to lead and motivate people. If you can’t motivate people how can you lead them and how will they have the respect for you that you deserve?

3) Ability to communicate with people and communicate your ideas with dedication and passion. One must love what they do.

What is your definition of success?

Working hard and making a living doing something that is totally satisfying and gratifying.  In the end, all the work is not in vain.

If you could give advice to a recent graduate or someone just beginning their career, what would you tell them?

To be optimistic and find a mentor in the field pursued.  Stay focused on your dream, work hard and never give up!