Hidden Figure: Sandra Braxton
Crystal: What is the Sandra Braxton story?
Sandra: I am the first girl in a family of 4 kids (the knee baby) born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. My family was one of modest means. My fondest memories were of playing double dutch, hop scotch and dodge ball. After graduating high school with honors, I went into the United States Air Force as a Medical Administration Specialist. I celebrated my 21st birthday in Saudi Arabia in the Desert Storm Conflict. I spent the next 14 years of my life serving our country. While in the Air Force, I met and married Octavian. We have been married for 18 years. I have obtained my Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology, my Master’s Degree in Business Administration and Certification in Project Management. I own a Travel Agency and have co-written a book with Octavian about our infertility journey entitled “Why Not Us”.
Crystal: How do you use your story to empower others?
Sandra: I utilized my infertility journey as an empowerment tool for all people because every aspect of my struggle is relatable to every one’s test. It is a reminder that all of us have encountered some form of pain in our life that can be transformed into a testimony and shared with another person to enhance their time on this earth. I believe that it is our responsibility to throw a shawl over the puddle to keep the next person from getting their shoes wet.
Crystal: How do you define philanthropy?
Sandra: Philanthropy is a multifaceted word. It can be shown in love, in support, in education, in showing up and in giving back of yourself. I have been giving back to my Community for many years. I have proudly mentored high school girls with Destiny’s Daughters of Promise, serve as co-chair the Women of AT&T MyATT Committee where we spread the word about the dangers of distracted driving to high schools and colleges in our community, and am active in Women Veteran Organizations.
Crystal: Why did you begin speaking to women about infertility?
Sandra: It wasn’t my choice to speak out. As a matter of fact, I was reluctant to share my story because like most, I didn’t want others to know the intimate facts of my life. What I have come to realize is that my speaking out is helping people and has hurt me in the least bit. I ask myself, “If not me, who?”
Crystal: As a black woman, do you believe our community hides infertility? If so, why?
Sandra: Yes, most definitely. For the reasons I stated in my previous answer. We feel as though it is a very intimate subject. We don’t want anyone to know we are dealing with it because it makes us feel deficient in some way. My goal is to empower women so that they will scream it from the roof tops and strip the shame away because there is no reason for you to feel less than. It does not define you. You are freakin’ fabulous, boo!
Crystal: How does your husband collaborate with you in telling your story of infertility?
Sandra: Our story is not so different than most, but it is in the fact that it isn’t told like most. We both had issues that contributed to our infertility journey. The fact of the matter is that men suffer from infertility as much as women, but they are not diagnosed because they don’t go to the doctor for testing. So Octavian is a vital piece of our puzzle because he is able to speak to his issues and men can relate. It is very necessary.
Crystal: Have you encountered couples dealing with the same issues?
Sandra: Yes, yes and yes. After we wrote our book, “Why Not Us”, we thought we had gotten our story out and we were done right…WRONG! That is when the phone began to ring, the Facebook inbox messages began to come in, and the email messages began to come in. We realized that this was much bigger than just a book. So, we created our Fertility Support Community.
Crystal: Did you know the Hidden Figures story prior to the movie?
Sandra: No, I didn’t but I am not surprised. There are so many of us working behind the scenes in everyday life. I see them in all walks of life. I meet them at every turn and it makes me proud to be one. Someone that is actively making a difference in the lives of many.
Crystal: Who is your Hidden Figure/mentor?
Sandra: The first person that immediately comes to mind is Donna Newman-Robinson. She has positively affected my life in multiple ways. She didn’t know that she gave me the idea to write our book, “Why Not Us”. She shares valuable information with no strings attached at every turn which has helped my businesses. Some would say we met by chance, but I would say it was a God thing. People are put in your path for a reason. I truly believe that. I’m thankful for her crossing my path.
Crystal: Michelle Obama has a quote, “Success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.” What does that quote mean to you?
Sandra: That quote means that we are all here on this earth to help each other, point blank. Once you figure that out, the happiness from it is more than obtaining any earthly possession.
Crystal: What is your passion?
Sandra: My passion is ensuring that no one feels alone in their infertility journey, which is what we are during in our Fertility Support Community. We are sharing resources with couples that are having issues conceiving. Resources such as health and wellness experts, financial planning, mental health counseling, spiritual mentoring, registered nurses, etc. that can be utilized in the decision making process of their fertility planning. Octavian and I also offer our mentoring services. We are committed to filling the gap for others.
Crystal: Do you have a favorite quote?
Sandra: My favorite quote is, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Crystal: What is your favorite book?
Sandra: My favorite Book is “Why Not Us” co-written by Sandra M. & Octavian M. Braxton. The reason it is my favorite book is because it is our vulnerability in helping so many people and that makes my heart happy.
Crystal: What words of inspiration can you leave the audience?
Sandra: I would like for everyone to realize that whatever it is that they are going through to just keep moving. If you are in the darkest hours now, the light is coming and guess what…you just might be able to help someone else with what you learn while you are in your darkest times. Keep the faith.