DISCOVERING HER PATH
I always knew that I was destined for greatness. Growing up in Gary, Indiana - one of the world’s most dangerous cities, not only gave me the heart and determination to thrive through adversity, but it helped me to understand that the world I was born into would be fundamental to my testimony. My perspective on life was one that was full of confusion. I often wondered why “I” had to be born to a mentally ill and drug addicted parent and why I would have to grow up not knowing anything about my father. After being placed in a foster home, at three days old, to a parent of already 15 children I knew that I would have a story to tell. Needless to say, there was infinite struggle that encompassed my day to day being. It was difficult to understand the phrase “believe in yourself”. It was also equally difficult to understand “love yourself”. With very few immediate role models in my life, I latched on to the one gift that I felt God instinctively gave me – my intelligence. Despite not having the “looks”, designer clothing, or other material possessions that a lot of kids my age were accustomed to, I knew that I was smart. I found my refuge in learning and creating through imagination. It is this same imagination that would propel me towards my goals and dreams.
DEFINING HER PLACE
After graduating high school in the top 5% of my class, I had no idea what the future would hold. I always envisioned college as something that only the rich could afford. It wasn’t until my school counselor introduced me to the possibility of secondary education and aided me in the process. With much difficulty, I was finally able to enroll at Purdue University. I originally majored in family law because I wanted to make sure that kids who didn’t have their birth parents would be placed in loving and productive environments. After being placed on academic probation the first semester, I realized I needed to rethink my future. I knew that where I had come from had not prepared me for where I wanted to go. I then changed my major to the next best thing…education. In hindsight, I suppose I had always been somewhat of an educator. I could vividly remember helping other kids who came in and out of the foster home with their studies and oftentimes even holding school instead of playing tea party or dodgeball. It brought me great gratitude when I was able to help others learn. As I continued the educational process at Purdue, I learned a lot about myself. It was here where I experienced the true definition of tenacity and perseverance.
While I could tell great stories, I wasn’t prepared to write essays. While I knew how to grasp information, I didn’t know how to study. I had stepped into a competitive world where I felt as if I lacked survival skills. All of these things began to affect my psyche. In my desire to make the best grades, I lost my self-worth. I can remember being adamant about wanting to quit. I thought that I didn’t possess the necessary skills to survive in one of the top schools in the world. I can remember being at my wits end towards the closing of my junior year. I decided that school was not for me and that I would be better off getting a regular job and living a regular life…even though I knew nothing about me was…regular. A week before the semester ended I scraped up enough money to see Maya Angelou. She came to the school to speak about not only her book, but life. Although my seat was in the very back of the room, when she spoke I felt as if I was sitting front and center. For whatever reason, her soul resonated within me. I had always admired her as a writer, but it was this day I began to admire her as woman. She was a woman (I thought) who chose to create the life she wanted for herself. She refused to be defined by anyone. She lived life on her terms. This is what I wanted for my life. And it was on that day, that I sought after the life I deserved. I knew that all of my experiences, both good and bad had ultimately shaped me into the woman that God created me to be. I then learned that greatness is not given…it is taken!
From that day forward I pressed through my academic studies and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English Education. As one who continuously wanted to perfect my craft, I went on to obtain my Master’s degree from Troy University. I have had many successes while in the classroom such as starting a female mentoring group, being recognized by administration on the local news, and even raising state test scores for years in a row. My passion for education inspired me to take a step further and pursue my doctoral degree. After years of strife, I graduated with a 4.0 and a PhD in Teacher Leadership. I know that this was nothing but God utilizing my gifts. My intelligence had paid off!
DEFYING THE ODDS
I suppose this would have been enough for the average woman, but I wanted to do something that left an indelible mark on the world. I wanted to leave a legacy. I wanted to be a game-changer who made history. In 2012, I sought a writing internship in Atlanta where I met my business partner, N. Renee McFadden. She was one of the few who believed in me and gave me an opportunity to share my gifts. I served as the Associate Editor of The Imprint Magazine, and she aided me in publishing my first book, BLUE, in 2014. Together we became a dynamic duo and realized we wanted more. We both understood the power that lies in being a woman and desired to provide all women with information on how to become successful in their personal and professional endeavors. As a result, in 2015, we launched a women’s empowerment organization - Purpose in Pumps. Every woman has a unique purpose, and our organization provides members with the necessary tools to allow them to unlock the true potential that God has placed within them. Our personal stories help to shape the lives of the women we encounter daily and is the foundation of our mission to empower through empowerment.
I am currently promoting my latest novel, Inevitable, which is a gripping, fictitious story centered around romantic relationships between African-American professionals in Atlanta. What I believe is inevitable for everyone's life, including my own, is that all things are possible with God's guidance. Our destiny is ultimately determined by the decisions we make - both ignorant and wise. But the beauty in every mistake is the lesson learned and passing this information on. I want my supporters to recognize and understand how powerful they are in actualizing excellence throughout their lives if only they choose to be better than they were the day before. I have learned this very important lesson, myself, and am humbled to be in position to continue to inspire others on their journey via relationships forums and leadership talks.