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How To Stay Motivated To Finish What You Start

Tonita Webb, CEO of verity credit union, CityU alum


Tonita Webb ‘23 has always seen education as her “way out”. After completing her bachelor’s in human resources, she vowed to get her doctorate one day. And that’s exactly what she did.

Tonita’s journey

Growing up in “housing projects in Virginia”, Tonita is no stranger to making a dollar stretch. But working in banking wasn’t always the plan. Her journey started in electrical engineering. 

Tonita Webb, student speaker at CityU graduation

Due to her self-proclaimed “chatty” -ness, though, she quickly decided that engineering wasn’t the right path and joined the Air Force as a cop. It was there that she was exposed to training. “I got to understand how people learn. I got to understand how to… co-create their success with them.”

When she left the military, she went to work for a bank on the operations side. She then finished her degree in human resource management while living in Florida and landed an HR Assistant position with the Department of Health, where her career progressed to HR Director. After a move to Washington and spending time at home with her last two children of four, she decided it was time to reenter the workforce. Eventually, Tonita was offered a couple of positions but chose the one at a credit union, where she admits she didn’t think she’d stay for long. “I’ll be here a few years because I’m just trying to fill out what I want to do and where I want to go,” she said.

She ended up being there for sixteen years, receiving several promotions along the way, which ended her in the COO position. That’s when she was reminded of her educational goal – to get her doctorate before she turned 50. Ultimately, Tonita enrolled in CityU’s Doctor of Business Administration program. Regarding flexibility, she said, “CityU offered me both, right? I went to class and I could do some coursework or some classes online.”

Watch now: “Flexible schedules at CityU”

How she stayed motivated

Tonita faced challenges along the way but was determined to finish what she started. As she was starting her doctoral study, she was moving and starting her new position as CEO of Verity Credit Union – all in the same month. “It was more than I could handle. It was!” She shared, though, that she wouldn’t have finished when she did without her faculty, her committee, and her chair’s investment in her success. 

CityU graduation, picturing doctoral graduates and faculty

“Dr. Price, bless his heart, he would email me and email me to make me get back on course.”

So, how was she able to do it all? “I’m stubborn. Once I decide to do something, I make it happen,” was her response. She also said that a huge motivator for her was her grandfather, who helped raise her. He had to start working in the third grade to help his family. And what he’d always shared with Tonita is how his biggest regret was “he didn’t get a chance to finish his education.”

She did it for him, and to be an example for her daughter, whom she affectionately calls her “mini-me”.

Additionally, Tonita is motivated to see systemic banking practices change. So much so that her dissertation at CityU was regarding credit unions that are serving underserved communities. “I’m just driven to help change those practices and those policies, or at least speak to it.” 

What’s next for Dr. Tonita Webb

Tonita Webb, how to stay motivated, CEO and CityU alum

Having recently received several awards for her achievements and community initiatives, she’s feeling heard and motivated to continue this important work. 

“As a black woman, woman of color, you don’t always feel heard or you feel dismissed.” She’s most recently been named an American Banker’s Most Powerful Women in Credit Unions honoree, and she shares that “it’s those moments that you’re like, oh, people are hearing me. I got some folks attention. Let me make some more progress.”

It still hasn’t sunk in yet that she’s completely done with school, but Dr. Webb is trying to find space to relax and recharge and enjoy this incredible achievement. She leaves one piece of advice for others pushing to finish their program:

“Learn as much as you can, but leave room for flexibility of information… There are things that you need to consider regarding humanity.”


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Britney Taylor
Britney Taylor, Content Specialist
Having worked in higher education for nearly a decade, Britney has gained a strong passion for empowering students toward graduation. Originally from SoCal, she’s currently living and working remotely in Atlanta. You can likely catch her at a spin class or watching the latest episode of 90 Day Fiancé.
Published February 1, 2024