Hidden Figure: Teresa Mason Browning


Hidden Figure: Teresa Mason Browning

Crystal: What is the Teresa Mason Browning story?

Teresa: I’m a mother of five grown children and five grands. I would be lying if I said I did everything right and I was a great parent.  I have taken the time to mend the broken fences that stand in the way of my family being united. It’s a task I tackle daily. I have gone through a lot of trials and tribulations, but yet I chose to smile. I have lived through rape, abuse, dysfunctional family and living pass incarceration. My past does not define the woman I am today. I still battle with depression and anxiety. However, my therapy comes in many forms:  1. Can I help a man or woman to see the good in themselves? and 2. Can I encourage them to rise above what they have been through?

Crystal: How do you use your story to empower others?

Teresa: I chose to show and encourage others that if you are down, you do not have to stay down. There are ways to enhance what you been through and erase the negative to make it a positive, but he or she must first believe in themselves.

Crystal: How do you define philanthropy?

Teresa: I am a light and a source to others who are down, but not out. My goal is to help revive, release, and relate to people who have been in similar situations and show them they can survive if they give themselves a chance.

Crystal: Why did you start the philanthropic project, Hats for Chemo patients?

Teresa: I do not want to take full credit for this. Shonda Wade reached out to me and asked would I help. In years past, I have crocheted hats for the homeless so, why not give the cancer patients a shield of glory (hat). It’s another cute crown they can wear upon their heads proudly.

Crystal: How can others serve their communities?

Teresa: We can serve by lending a helping hand to our senior citizens. There are too many living in homes where no one ever visits. I have seen their faces light up when a song is sung, a basket of fruit comes in, or just to sit with them and talk. It can change their entire outlook for a day. Our youths need more mentors to step up and spend time teaching them life skills to help keep them engaged in school. We must not forget those that sit behind the gate (prison). There are men and women who have no hope. It seems like their families have given up on them. A Christmas card, even a Father’s or Mother’s Day card could brighten their world. We cannot forget about those that suffer with mental illness. They need an encouraging hand as well.

Crystal: What challenges do you see in your community?

Teresa: There are not enough programs to help people when they have reached a low point in their lives. I think if we stop pointing the finger and come up with more programs to help those who make minimum wage or those on disability. It can help a large group who feel like they are just shooting in the dark with no relief in sight.

Crystal: What other volunteer activities do you participate in?

Teresa: I actually work with young entrepreneurs, Leaping into Success. I mentor young men at risk between the ages of 13-18. I mentor women through blogging or in group sessions. My goal is to keep giving back to those that sit behind the prison gate through sending books and others small acts of kindness.

Crystal: How did Hidden Figures impact your life?

Teresa: It made me want to reach out, achieve even more goals, and find more ways to help others less fortunate than myself. Those women showed that regardless of their skin color, they had the ability to get the job done. I have adopted the motto, “If you can believe it, you can achieve it”. I was reminded of that as I sat and saw how they stopped at nothing to prove just that!

Crystal: Did you know the hidden figures story prior to the movie?

Teresa: To be honest, I had no knowledge. As I watched, I wondered how many more stories would be uncovered where we, as African-Americans, achieved the impossible, but made it look easy. In spite of the criticism, they achieved at the beginning.

Crystal: Who is your Hidden Figure/mentor?

Teresa: RIP Emma Powell (My Grandmother). She was there for me in the beginning and until she took her last breath. She told me one day I would be powerful and make a statement. I see it now coming into view.

Crystal: Dr. Ruben West has a quote, “Do things without expecting a payment.” What does that quote mean to you?

Teresa: I live by this. I go into everything I do not looking for monetary award, but asking how I can reach someone and make a difference in their lives.

Crystal: What is your passion?

Teresa: Writing will always be my first passion. It allows me to express myself without limitations.

Crystal: Do you have a favorite quote?

Teresa: “If You Can Believe it, You Can Achieve it” and “I will not stop until I reach the top.”

Crystal: What is your favorite book?

Teresa: I have too many to say, but one book that left imprint on my life is The Divine Relations of Hell Mary Baxter.

Crystal: What words of inspiration can you leave the audience?

Teresa: Do not ever doubt what God has for you; Hold your head up high and walk into your destiny; Don’t put off tomorrow for what you can do today for tomorrow is not promised; Remember to live each day as if it’s your last; and Do not forget to smile!


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