Meet Trailblazing Knight Linda (Singer) Black ’71
By Ashley Cullins
UCF opened its doors on October 7, 1968, as Florida Technological University (FTU). Fewer than 2,000 students were enrolled, and tuition was set at $150 per quarter. Classes were held on the third floor of the multipurpose library, which housed administration and faculty offices on the first two floors and library services on the fourth floor.
Grass wasn’t yet planted, and campus was pockmarked with dirt piles and sandy parking lots. Early alumni remember the sounds of ongoing construction, the sight (and smell) of displaced skunks in dorm rooms, and the feeling of sandy palms from digging their cars out of the dirt. But they also recall a friendly campus where everything was new and exciting, a blank slate on which they could help write the university’s future.
These Trailblazing Knights shaped the spirit, innovation and excellence of UCF, laying the foundation for the university we know and love today.
On April 8, UCF’s first five graduating classes will be honored at an on-campus Trailblazing Knights event. The event will include brunch, a campus tour, a reception and a Flying Horse Big Band performance at the Dr. Phillips Center.
In this three-part series, you’ll meet three Trailblazing Knights, all Trailblazers at FTU and throughout their post-university lives.
Meet Linda (Singer) Black
On October 7, 1968, Linda (Singer) Black ’71 was one of 1,948 students present for the very first day of classes at Florida Technological University. A Miami native, Linda had moved to Winter Park for her senior year of high school before enrolling at FTU.
“I was a shy girl, and I was very intimidated,” Linda says. “Especially moving from a lower class neighborhood in Miami to wealthy Winter Park, I still hadn’t gotten over the idea that I wasn’t good enough and I wasn’t smart enough. But at UCF, there were no traditions yet. I wasn’t intimidated because there was nothing there before. I could do whatever I wanted to do. Everything was open.”
It turned out that Linda wanted to do a lot. Between attending her classes and working at JCPenney to pay her way through school, she was the first student governor of the College of Education. She participated in FTU’s first theatre productions, performed in a tent. She was the only woman on FTU’s golf team. “I was even in the band,” she says. “They started the band, so I pulled out my clarinet from high school and did that too.”
Linda took a similarly wide-ranging approach to her classes. “For $150, you could take as many classes as you wanted,” she says. “So, I usually carried 18 hours. I had my education classes, but I also did minors in theatre, economics and finance. I remember my advisor being like, ‘Why are you taking all these finance and economics classes?’ I said, ‘Because I love it!’” She graduated in three years in August of 1971.
After graduating from FTU, Linda was the associate publisher of Homes & Land Magazine for ten years, the director of communications for the Florida Department of Labor under two governors, an academic advisor and marketing director at Florida State University, and the owner of Historic Tallahassee Tours. She even returned to UCF as a senior library supervisor, leading the opening of the Rosen College Library.
“That was in 2005, and UCF has expanded even more since then,” she says. “It was fabulous being back on campus. The Student Union alone was amazing. I went there every day, just to get a sandwich and walk circles of the campus. I would just experience what it felt like to remember the exact sidewalks I walked before.”
Linda then circled back to education to teach Kindergarten and grades 2, 4, 5 and 6 in Orlando, specializing in at-risk and special needs students. For two years, she was a National Park teacher and ranger in Acadia National Park in Maine, which she describes as “the most beautiful place in the whole country.” More recently, she has worked as a substitute teacher, an ESE program assistant and then a special education tech.
On top of all that, Linda has started 15-20 businesses over the years, which she considers something fun to do on the side. “I don’t do bored,” Linda explains. “I always innovate or come up with a new business. I think of something, and then I do all the logos and marketing.”
She adds, “At UCF, I grew up a lot and became myself. It gave me confidence in that everything I wanted to do, I could do it. And I was smart enough. Whenever I tried something new in my career, I figured it out, and I became good at whatever I was doing. UCF taught me to be innovative and figure things out.”
Today, Linda and her husband Warren own Baa-Baa Black Sheep’s Farm in South Carolina, with a view of the Blue Ridge Mountains from their front porch. They enjoy visiting their five children and 11 grandkids all over the country. And when Linda gets bored, she does marketing for small businesses free of charge, “because it’s expensive,” she says, “and it gives me something to do.”