Hidden Figure: Skekinah Galloway


Hidden Figure: Shekinah Galloway

Crystal: Who is Shekinah Galloway?

Skekinah: I am a mother of five, one girl and four boys. I am the youngest of five, with my brother being the oldest and the only boy. I have a background in accounting, business and computer science. I am a product of a single-parent home.

Crystal: Why did you become a literacy advocate?

Skekinah:  I became a literacy advocate because I remember being as young as five, going to school with one of those names no one could pronounce nor spell correctly. My teacher would embarrass me by yelling that I was either pronouncing my name incorrectly are spelling it incorrectly. Fast-forward years later, I have the same issue with my daughter. I named her Shakeshey’a (Sha-Key-She-Ya). People said she’ll never learn her name and asked why would you do that child like that? I went on a mission to ensure she knew it and then some. By 18 months she knew colors, sight words, could spell purple, etc. Over the years, I have noticed the dropout rates and I wanted to, not only reverse that, but to exceed what was considered excellence for children.

Crystal: What are the ages of the children you mentor?

Skekinah: 4 and up

Crystal: Do you have any advice for parents of young readers?

Skekinah: I sure do, #1. Don’t take yourself too seriously. #2. Get down on the floor with your child and allow them to enjoy their age. #3. Make those goofy noises and faces. Make the book come alive! Allow their mind to explode with imagination and creativity. #4. Let them see you reading! Take time out to read one of your favorite authors or if you don’t have one check out some of our AAALAC authors’ books. I promise, you will not be disappointed.

Crystal: How many children in your community lack access to books?

Skekinah: I would say 75 to 80% of our children lack the ability to obtain books.

Crystal: Tell the audience about your organization, AAALAC (African American Author Literacy Awareness Campaign).

Skekinah:   I am extremely proud of this campaign. It has become its own entity. It was started when we were looking for books by our facilitators that came to volunteer for our Summer Enrichment Institute. During all this, my business partner, Angela, authored three books. We have found so many authors that are amazing, but no one knows about them. We tour the US and abroad with the mission to showcase African-American authors, bring those books to the forefront, and promote literacy. It’s all inclusive. We highlight African-Americans, but we welcome all authors, genres, ages, and walks of life! We are also compiling two books:  one for women who have overcome any obstacle and one for youth.

Crystal: What’s been your most memorable moment during the AAALAC tour?

Skekinah: Our mentor, Dr. Ruben West, and our advisor, Ms. Nancy Smith Mattox, came all the way to South Carolina to meet us and take us under their wings. I still get teary eyed because I know only God did it.

Crystal: Tell the audience about your networking group, Pushing Grace.

Skekinah: Pushing Grace is our baby that started it all. It was created to be a united foundation where individuals who need help becoming a nonprofit. We have abstinence training, child abuse prevention, community involvement, educational enrichment, entrepreneurship, social and spiritual development. We also have parenting classes. The list goes on, but our mission is to build strong and healthy families. We want to heal the whole family holistically.

Crystal: Did you know the Hidden Figures story prior to the movie?

Skekinah: I did not. I am so proud! Those are the things we promote “Research history don’t recite it”. Which simply means don’t only learn and relearn about the African-Americans that are always talked about. There are some that even we missed, but I am honored to now know and the attention the movie has gotten.

Crystal: Who is your Hidden Figure/mentor?

Skekinah: Gwen “Coach Gwen” Cunningham. She is not aware of this status because we have the same internationally known mentor, Dr. Ruben West. Her presence alone empowers me.

Crystal: What is your favorite quote?

Skekinah: ” Speak those things that are not as though they were”

Crystal: What is your favorite book?

Skekinah: You’re going to think I’m crazy, but it is the Bible. I have the Bible experience and it is so amazing. I honestly experience it differently and more amazingly every time I listen to it.

Crystal: What is the last book you read?

Skekinah: I am trying to go through our library to read all the books that we are receiving for the African-American Museum! I am reading my mentors’ book, Destination Mastery: Seven steps to in extraordinary life.

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

Skekinah: Find a reason to smile every single day and thank God for that day. He created all of this just for you! If you were the only one, he still would have done everything again as well as died for you. OUR FATHER LOVES YOU, BEYOND YOU!

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Hidden Figure: Janis Mavis



Hidden Figure: Janis Mavis

Crystal: Who is Janis Mavis?

Janis: Janis Mavis is a woman of substance, culture, integrity, spirituality, and tranquility.

She strives each day to share her passion and creativity with others globally, and constantly provide a constructive platform for others to excel.

Crystal: Why is community radio important?

Janis: Community Radio offers an opportunity for people to have a voice. To collaborate ideas, suggestions, opinions, and resourceful information.

Crystal: How do you use your mic to foster change?

Janis: I utilize my mic to implement change and  to assist people globally with their visions and dreams, transforming them into a reality.

Crystal: Do you believe radio is significant in creating grass roots movements?

Janis: Radio reaches an abundance of people globally in making a difference, and lobbying the general public, associations, companies, and corporations to partake in grass roots movements.

Crystal: How do you define philanthropy?

Janis: The energy and the passion that is seeded in your soul, and to assist others that are in human need of positive assistance.

Crystal: How did you come up with the idea for Authors Corner?

Janis: Actually, Author Corner was entitled by the Founder of WMEL Radio, “Where The Good Music Lives”, DJ Mel/Gamel Moore. Author Corner showcase and highlight Authors, Poets, Indie-Artists, Artists, Song-Writers, Entertainers, & Celebrities Each Thursday At 6PM EST.We Embrace Our Artists Passion & Creativity! www.wmelradio.net

Crystal:  How do you empower others with your poetry?

Janis: I utilize my trials, tribulations, and lessons creating a positive message to the universe. Enhancing self-awareness, expressions, and motivation.

Crystal: Audre Lorde has a quote; “poetry is not only dream and vision; it is the skeleton architecture of our lives. It lays the foundation for a future of change, a bridge across our fears of what has never been before.” What does that quote mean to you?

Janis: Poetry is life expressions of reality, conquering change and transformation, and approaching our challenges and fears daily.

Crystal: What other philanthropic activities do you participate in?

Janis: I host creative writing workshops for the youth in urban communities.

Crystal: Who is your Hidden Figure/mentor?

Janis: Iyanla Vanzant.

Crystal: How do you define success?

Janis: Achieving objectives, goals, accomplishments, and desires. Implementing a plan of action and receiving a favorable out-come.

Crystal: What is your favorite book?

Janis: Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyers.

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

Janis: Embrace yourself each day with love, hope, dreams, and desires. Share a kind word with others. Laugh! Love! Live!

Hidden Figure: Sandra Braxton


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.


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!


Hidden Figure: Maxine Garland


Hidden Figure: Maxine Garland

Crystal:  Tell us about what you do?

Maxine: I am a God fearing woman, who found my purpose in life is to help others. That is my love and passion. God has blessed me with a ministry called TALK GIRL TALK. It is a ministry where we provide free pampers and wipes to parents monthly; slightly used clothing; toys; toiletries and household items from the TGT Dry Pantry, as needed; Bibles and gifts to the residents in nursing home/ assist living on holidays; resources/referrals, as needed; and encouraging and uplifting words during teleconferences on the 2nd Friday of each month. The conference number is 712-432-6100 and enter Pin# 12489780.

Crystal:  What is the mission of your organization?

Maxine: To Encourage, Pray, Inform and always Commit to helping the hurting, lost and those who may have fallen on tough times to bring them hope, love and caring. Also uplIft and supporT other ministries and organizations. {#EPIC IT}

Crystal:  When did you create Talk Girl Talk?

Maxine: TGT was birthed in 2014.

Crystal:  What motivates you to serve your community?

Maxine: I am a people person and always find myself helping others, taking in others into my home, and always crying and praying with others. It seems like people are drawn to me for help. I believe it is my purpose and God’s plan for my life.

Crystal:  What is the greatest reward for what you do?

Maxine: When I see smiles on the hurting faces, when others shed tears of joy for receiving God, seeing children be children by having fun, and the hugs and Thank-Yous. My reply always is, “It was God. I am just the vessel.”

Crystal:  Why did you choose to serve mothers?

Maxine: Not only mothers, but single parents. It could also be a single father. We will embrace them with love also. While raising my children, there were very little or no help being a single young parent. My goal is for TGT to be an outreach ministry and a support system within the communities.

Crystal:  One of the events Talk Girl Talk host is a pamper drive. From your experience, how many women lack a sufficient supply of pampers?

Maxine: Monthly, we go to different cities and counties in the state of Georgia. We help at least 20 families a month that lack supplies.

Crystal:  How do you decide where to host your events?

Maxine: We, Gloria and I, decide as God leads us. We distributed pampers and wipes from the trunk of our cars when we first started. We are now receiving calls requesting TGT to come to different communities to host a free Pamper Drive.

Crystal:  How can the community donate supplies to your organization?

Maxine: The community can send a check or money order to P.O. Box 1537, Loganville, Ga, 30052. We can also make arrangements to pick up donations by contacting 470-535-3795 or 678-938-7353.

Crystal:  What does a Talk Girl Talk event look like?

Maxine: It’s like a family gathering. We set up different tables:  one table is for the free clothes give away, one table is for the resource center, and the other table is for the free pampers and wipes. We always open up and end with a prayer. In between, there is a lot of fun. There are lots of hugs, smiles, and talking and sharing the word of God. We also help with referrals and resources.

Crystal:  What do you know now that could have helped when you first started?

Maxine: When I first started in 2014, I was always questioning… “Why did that happen?”, “How did you become…?”, and “You should have…” This ministry has taught me not to judge others, but only to give and show love.

Crystal:  What is one of your favorite memories from a Talk Girl Talk event?

Maxine: Sharing the journey/the walk Talk Girl Talk has endured and embraced during the years with others.

Crystal: Do you partner with other organizations?

Maxine: Yes. Since 2014, TGT has collaborated with many other ministries and organizations. Meeting people with the same walk/mission of ministry and organization is a blessing.

Crystal:  Who is your Hidden Figure/mentor?

Maxine: My Mother, Irma P. Campbell, instilled the true value of love, caring and humbleness toward others in each one of her children. I love and miss her so much. RIP mommy.

Crystal:  What is your favorite book?

Maxine: My Prayer Journey by Maxine Garland

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

Maxine: TGT’s motto is Positive WALK + Positive TALK = Positive ACTIONS

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Hidden Figure: Angela Thomas Smith


Hidden Figure: Angela Thomas Smith

Crystal: Tell me something about yourself? 

Angela: I’m Angela Thomas Smith and I reside in Anderson, SC. I am the Co-Founder of Pushing Grace Networking Group & Community Gateway Center where our mission is “BUILDING STRONG HEALTHY FAMILIES thru THE ULTIMATE E3EXPERIENCE” (educational, empowerment, & encouragement); Founder/CEO of Placed With a Purpose Ministries home of the Sister/Friend Empowerment Conference, LLC (live, love & care) where our mission is to help other discover their purpose in life thru Christ based on Jeremiah 29:11; and Co-Founder/Director of African-American Authors Literacy Awareness Campaign whose mission is to bring awareness to African-American authors & literacy as we tour the world sharing authors’ books and testimonies. Pushing Grace’s ultimate goal is to collaborate and network with others to share the good news that God is still performing miracles and he’s yet alive and working through us. Our testimonies prove just that. I would be all day telling my stories. You name it, I’ve endured it. From losing my mother at an early age, to being homeless, to being victorious over domestic violence, and to battling depression & PTSD Etc. I share because God has called us African-American Women to be bold, strong and united for just this time to help others that my being going through right now to come out. We are OVERCOMERS. If He did it for us, He’ll do it for you. He has no respect of person. What He does for one, He’ll do for the next.

Crystal: Why did you become a literacy advocate?

Angela:  I wanted to bring awareness to African-American authors and literacy within our communities.

Crystal: What is the name of your organization?

Angela: Pushing Grace Networking Group and African-American Author Literacy Awareness Campaign (AAALAC)

Crystal: What are the ages of the children you mentor?  

Angela: 4yrs-17

Crystal: Why is reading important for children?

Angela: If kids can’t read by 3rd grade, they will most likely suffer from self-esteem issues, suffer academically and will not go to college. These are just a few of the reasons why reading is important.

Crystal: How many children in your community lack access to books?

Angela: Based on information collected from United Way of Anderson County, there are more than a thousand.

Crystal: Literacy is more than words. How do you encourage all forms of literacy in your organization (i.e. singing, dancing, painting, acting)?

Angela: How do these activities boost the children’s love for reading? We encourage our kids to not only read, but dance, sing, draw, paint, drama, and write poetry and short stories. Last summer, we actually had a few children’s book authors tour summer enrichment programs and share with our kids through various workshops. Our youth were encouraged to write, draw, color and work together. When kids can bring what they have read to life through songs and dance, it encourages them to read more.

Crystal: How important is it for children to read aloud?

Angela: According to Becoming a Nation of Readers and a 1985 report by the Commission on Reading stressed, “The single most important activity for building these understandings and skills essential for reading success appears to be reading aloud to children.” Reading aloud presents books as sources of pleasant, valuable, and exciting experiences. Children who value books are motivated to read on their own. Reading aloud gives children background knowledge, which helps them make sense of what they see, hear, and read. The more adults read aloud to children, the larger their vocabularies will grow and the more they will know about the world and their place in it. Reading aloud lets parents and teachers be role models for reading. When children see adults excited about reading, they will catch their enthusiasm. Reading aloud can introduce books and types of literature (poetry, short stories, biographies) children might not discover on their own. Reading aloud introduces the language of books, which differs from language heard in daily conversations, on television, and in movies. Book language is more descriptive and uses more formal grammatical structures.  Reading aloud lets children use their imaginations to explore people, places, times, and events beyond their own experiences (Young Children, NAEYC’s journal editor Derry Koralek).

Crystal: Literacy begins at home. How do you empower parents to read?

Angela: You encourage them by providing reading materials for the kids to borrow or have for home use.  We engage our parents by having events where parents come and participate. If you can get a parent to invest time in their children, they will be successful academically. We have learned that the less they have to invest, the more they will participate.

Crystal: Did you know the Hidden Figures story prior to the movie?

Angela: No

Crystal: How did the movie impact your life?

Angela: It helps reinforce what we are trying to instill in our kids in our program. It promotes sisterhood and education.

Crystal: Who is your Hidden Figure/mentor?

Angela: Dorothy Vaughn because of her various background, love for mathematics, and her ability to lead.

Crystal: What is your favorite quote?

Angela: Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Crystal: What is your favorite book?

Angela: Since I co-founded AAALAC, I have read a lot of books over the last few months and have become quite fond of a few of them. Right now, I can’t pick a favorite. Pat Simmons’ books were at the top of my list before.

Crystal: What is the last book you read?

Angela: Use What’s Left, Rebound from Setback by Dr. Edward Womack

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

Angela: Strive to be the best that you can be.  When people tell you no, you keep pushing. If you never try, you will never know if you will succeed or fail. If you fail, at least you can say you tried. No matter what you do in life, do it with all your heart. Never settle for anything because you will fall for nothing. P.U.S.H. (pray until something happens). God will never put more on you than you can bear. He covered you in Jeremiah 29:11. The storm is over, it’s time to walk in your purpose.

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Hidden Figure: Silvia Carol Grant


Hidden Figure: Silvia Carol Grant

Crystal: Who is Silvia Carol Grant?

Silvia:  Silvia Carol Grant is a pillar of strength, hope and guidance for many adolescent girls (and their families) in the West Palm Beach community. For the past decade, Silvia has dedicated her time, love, and service to the outreach of young girls and teens. Her passion for at risk youth (particularly young ladies) is seen in every avenue of her life. Having tirelessly and enthusiastically worked in alternative education for the last 10 years, Silvia is the shining example of a dedicated educator and an irreplaceable counselor. Most recently, Silvia has taken her passions beyond the workplace by establishing The Priceless Pearls Youth Ambassadors, Inc. This program is aimed at helping middle and high school girls deal with both the difficult transition into adolescence and the pressures of being a young teen. Having received an overwhelming response from her community, Silvia’s vision and mission to “Transform Young Ladies into Model Citizens” is now filling a valid need in the Palm Beach area.

The Priceless Pearls Youth Ambassadors have made quite a name for themselves throughout their community. There are 13 members served by 2 Youth Advisors and have several young ladies wait listed.

While creating community and leadership opportunities for these young ladies, Silvia participates in many service endeavors and includes her mentoring program in many of them. She volunteers with a variety of service projects in Palm Beach County; participates in The Caps of Love Program; recently partnered with the Homeless Coalition of Palm Beach County; holds informational sessions on the eradication of cancer and volunteers for the Susan G. Komen South Florida Race for the Cure annually; and distributing literature and serves as an “Honor Guard” for the Survivor Ceremony. Among other honors, she’s a member of Shiloh Family Worship Center, The Palm Beach County Chapter of The Charmettes, Inc., The Order of the Eastern Star, PHA and a Life Member of the Bethune-Cookman College Alumni Association.

Silvia received her high school diploma from Suncoast Community High School, holds a BA in Speech Communication & Theatre Arts from Bethune-Cookman College, and a MS in Psychological Studies with a concentration in School Counseling from Nova Southeastern University.  She is a counselor, dedicated to the growth and encouragement of young girls, at Pace Center for Girls in Palm Beach (Alternative Ed.). When she is not working, she participates in community activities and motivates youth, teachers and administrators on the importance of mentoring, leadership and giving back.  In her spare time, Silvia enjoys traveling, spending time with her family and friends, and volunteering and inspiring others to discover their passions through service.

Crystal: What have you learned from the girls you mentor?

Silvia: I’ve learned that the girls I mentor want and need consistency in their lives and by me investing my time with them monthly they get that and so much more.

Crystal: What is Priceless Pearls Youth Ambassadors, Inc?

Silvia: Priceless Pearls Youth Ambassadors, Inc. provides tools to produce, strengthen and empower invaluable young ladies, while fostering love, engaging in service and promoting cultural awareness, education and social transformation. However, the ultimate mission is to “Transform Young Ladies Into Model Citizens”.

Crystal: Your three principles are: Love, Friendship and Service. What do these words mean to you and your organization?

Silvia: Love, Friendship and Service are the brightest moments of our life. They become the source of joy and positive energy.

Crystal: What does the quote “dream the impossible dream” mean to you?

Silvia: It means to identify a picture of the future that energizes your mind, your will and emotions that empowers you to do everything you can to achieve something beyond your reach. A dream worth pursuing is a picture and blueprint of your purpose and potential. Remember, “Dreams come a size too big so we can grow into them.”

Crystal: What is your dream for the girls and young women you mentor?

Silvia: My dream for the girls and young women I mentor is for them to be successful at any goal they set to accomplish and to be all that God has called them to be!

Crystal: We all have the ability to serve. How can your community help your organization?

Silvia: I believe my community would be a great asset to my organization by investing their time and treasure.

Crystal: What is the greatest challenges facing girls and young women today?

Silvia: The greatest challenges facing girls and young women today are the pressures to have pre-marital sex, the disproportion effects of social media, empowerment, negative attitudes, health issues, exclusion and discrimination, the lack of basic life skills to become self-sufficient in life and the void of having influential women pouring into their lives daily.

Crystal: Why do you engage in philanthropic activities?

Silvia: I engage in philanthropic activities because of my altruistic impulse and because philanthropy is a learned behavior. At an early age, I was taught to give back. I was taught to care and to demonstrate love to all mankind, no matter of race, gender, ethnicity, diversity and social or economic status.

Crystal: How do you define philanthropy?

Silvia: I define philanthropy as the “love of humanity” in the sense of caring, nourishing, developing and enhancing one’s life.

Crystal: What challenges do you see in your community?

Silvia: The challenges I see in my community is faith in God, violence, negative behaviors modeled in the homes of children, health care, inadequate access to higher education, a need for affordable housing, a lack of public trust in government and the need for homeless shelters.

Crystal: How did Hidden Figures impact your life?

Silvia: Hidden figures impacted my life by assuring me that working together is the key to successful outcomes.

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

Silvia: No

Crystal: Who is your Hidden Figure/mentor?

Silvia: My Hidden Figure and mentor is my godmother Stephanie Rolle. She’s an amazing woman of God who defines extraordinary, integrity and unconditional love at its ultimate leisure. Throughout the years, she has been a great counselor, advisor and most importantly my spiritual mom. My godmother gives of herself selflessly to all she encounters. She goes over and beyond in the spirit of excellence to produce greatness at all levels. An entrepreneur, counselor, philanthropist, giver, confidant, and role-model are just a couple of significant roles she exemplifies. But most of all she carries what God has given me in her heart.

Crystal: In the movie, sisterhood was key to the women’s success. How does sisterhood play a role in your organization?

Silvia: Sisterhood plays a key role in my organization. It’s something that’s understood without saying a word. It’s a connection deeper than words. It’s a full, deep history that will be passed down to every young lady that joins this circle of friendship. It’s faith, courage, love, strength, team work and a strong bond of beautiful young ladies making a difference and understanding their value to one another. The sisterhood is capturing each other’s hearts and embracing change.

Crystal: Do you have a favorite quote?

Silvia: Be the change you want to see in the world!

Crystal: What is your favorite book?

Silvia: My favorite book is The Complete Collected Poems, by Maya Angelou.

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

Silvia: Always aspire to inspire someone and know that God will always provide you with what you need to conquer anything. Set your limitations in the realm of the spirit and know that your obedience will always produce the results you need.

Hidden Figure: Nakia White


Hidden Figure: Nakia White

Crystal: How would your students describe you?

Nakia: My students would say that I’m firm, but fair.

Crystal: Why did you choose a career in education?

Nakia: There were so many teachers who believed in me throughout my academic career. I just knew that I could provide that type of encouragement and love to my own students.

Crystal: Your students praise you as a mentor. How does mentorship impact students in and out of the classroom?

Nakia: As a mentor, I pray that my students will remember the nuggets of wisdom I give to them when faced with a challenging situation or obstacle.

Crystal: What is the greatest need in the education system?

Nakia: It is time that politicians volunteer to teach classes. They impact so much of what is done in our buildings, it is time to witness the struggle.

Crystal: What is the greatest misconception?

Nakia: The biggest misconception about education is that teachers are lucky to have summers off. A lot of us work summer programs; attend professional development opportunities; complete graduate school courses; and spend time locating resources to use during the upcoming school year.

Crystal: As a Social Studies teacher, how do you address your student’s questions and concerns regarding social issues?

Nakia: When addressing social issues with my students, I like to provide them with all of the perspectives. Teachers never want to isolate students. It is beneficial to know what they believe and why.

Crystal: Who was your favorite teacher? What impact did they have on your life?

Nakia: I do not have a favorite teacher because they all impacted my life tremendously. I didn’t realize that I was what you would call an at-risk youth until I became an educator. All of my teachers in Charleston County School District left an imprint on my life.

Crystal: What have you learned from your students?

Nakia: I have learned that all students need good teachers. Sometimes educators wonder if they will impact their clientele. Believe me, YOU WILL.

Hidden Figure: Cherise Moore


Hidden Figure: Cherise Moore

Crystal :Tell me something about yourself?

Cherise: Picture a young lady trying to get somewhere that she cannot see, but her eyes are open. That’s me! My parents had four children at a young age, which means they struggled to manage financially. My mother and father worked, which left my siblings and I to grow up a little faster than others our ages. We learned how to survive. Due to my parents traveling from Jamaica to Philadelphia, I didn’t get a chance to hold onto many friendships. It wasn’t until 3rd grade, in Philadelphia, that I found a bond with others. I received a full scholarship to any college I chose based on my status. The fact that I was underprivileged has benefitted me to some great degree at this time in my life. Of course, my family moved away to Florida by the time I was getting ready to go into 6th grade. I made a vow to myself that I would always give back to others if I could just make it to college. I finally graduated high school and was accepted into Bethune-Cookman College; now University. I started with a desire to be an educator. I remember someone said to me, “I think you would be a great attorney because you never give up.” That made me look at things differently and thought that was a sign to change my major to Criminal Justice. I felt that was a way I could definitely make an impact on others and the outcome of their life. I graduated with my B.S in Criminal Justice. My first job 4 months later was as a Juvenile Probation Officer. I decided I wanted to get my Master Degree because these kids did not have anyone to really talk to about their problems/issues. I graduated from Webster University with my Masters of Arts in Community Counseling and Mental Health. I then worked for the Department of Children and Families as an investigator and did outpatient therapy in my community. I then realized the impact of these children’s lives starts from home. Most of the at-risk kids were in single parent homes. I then received a job opportunity at a maximum security prison as a Psychotherapist. This job was the most rewarding, but also the most frustrating job I’ve ever had. I was now able to see what the parents were thinking behind bars. This job gave me a different satisfaction in life. I wanted to embark on putting all the pieces together and decided to now get an Educational Leadership degree so I could get into the educational piece of their lives because this is where they spend most of their time.  I now work at school as in intake/outreach counselor for at risk girls and I love it!

Crystal: What does mentoring mean to you?

Cherise: Being able to give someone else an opportunity to embrace the values that I have learned will help them have a better future. I believe that each one deserves an opportunity to find his or her voice, achieve his or her potential and celebrate a life defined by responsibility, dignity, serenity, and grace.

Crystal: As a mentor, how do you think the movie Hidden Figures inspired young girls?

Cherise:  I think the movie has a positive impact on young girls. It really made me think about all the opportunities that young girls and women miss just because they are female. It breaks my heart. My hope is one day, WE will all be on the same page.  

Crystal: How did the movie impact your life?

Cherise: Tremendously. It has re-inspired me to continue to find my complete purpose. Finding where I want to be in a career. It has also inspired me to never give up on my own dreams! Since this movie, I have re-enrolled in school to finish my Ph.D. I have also registered to take 2 state exams that I have put to the side. I have realized that life is really short. While I am here on earth, I want to continue to educate as many young people and people at risk that I can with all the education, wisdom, and experience I can share. Of course, I also realized it really takes a village to raise a child because all my pieces connect in some way or another.

Crystal: Who is your Hidden Figure/mentor?

Cherise: Mrs. Toll from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This woman paid for me to go to college. Without her, I would not have this opportunity to give back like she gave back to me.

Crystal: As a graduate of the historic Bethune-Cookman University, do you believe HBCU’s pay a role in social justice?

Cherise: Absolutely. They give opportunities for young adults of minority status to have a better future.

Crystal: What are you passionate about?

 Cherise: Helping kids and adults at risk.

Crystal: What is your favorite quote?

Cherise: “Everything happens for a reason.”

Crystal: What is your favorite book?

Cherise:  Any book that Crystal Myers writes J

Crystal: What is your dream?

Cherise: Obtain my Ph.D. and have a school designated for at risk kids.

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

Cherise: Never settle for anything less than you feel you deserve. Always follow your dreams. Never give up on yourself.

Hidden Figure:Vanetia V Fahie

HIDDEN FIGURE Vanetia V Fahie header

Hidden Figure: Vanetia Fahie

Crystal: In three words describe Vanetia Fahie?

Vanetia: Faithful, Obedient, and Strong

Crystal: What was your first philanthropic activity?

Vanetia: My first philanthropic activity was the DO YOU Enrichment Center where we assisted the community through tutoring, mentoring, enrichment classes, GED Prep, and other educational opportunities to further the development of the community. 

Crystal: How do you define philanthropy? 

Vanetia: Philanthropy is serving from your heart and helping those less fortunate to prosper in spite of their circumstances.  It is creating an opportunity for growth and prosperity for those who otherwise would not have that opportunity to do so. 

Crystal: What is the best part of being a philanthropist? 

Vanetia: The best part of being a philanthropist is seeing the excitement and the joy in the eyes of those you serve.  It is knowing that you have given someone an opportunity to change, who would not have had that chance if you had not only created and presented the opportunity, but also helped them to successfully seize the opportunity. 

Crystal: What community issues are you passionate about? 

Vanetia: I am passionate about helping moms, especially single moms to have the best “Mommy Experience” they can have.  I have the opportunity to bring awareness to opportunities available to enable them to become self-sufficient and prosperous in all they do.  

Crystal: What is your current position?

Vanetia: I am the House and Nutrition Manager for Florence Crittenton, which is a group home for pregnant and abused girls and young women ages 12-21.  I not only ensure the house stays in order, but I am a shoulder for tears, a hand for comfort, and an ear when it seems no one else is listening. I feel like these girls are my babies, too.  Having lost my mom at 9, I can relate to the feelings most of the girls have.  It makes it easier for them to talk to me because I’ve been there, in a sense.

Crysta: How does your current position align with your purpose? 

Vanetia: My current position was purposely orchestrated by God during a very low time in my life.  I had just lost my job in Atlanta, GA and had to move back home.  This was not the type of job I was used to doing, nor was it anywhere close to the pay scale I was used to.  I initially started out as a volunteer, conducting groups such as vison boards, budgeting, and setting goals as a way to keep me busy while I look for work.  While volunteering, I was offered the position of an ally, which at first I was going to turn down because it wasn’t my norm.  I asked God for direction and he instructed me to take the position.  This position turned out to be the best job that I have ever had.  While it was not paying what I wanted or what I thought I needed, it was not just a job for me.  I was able to serve and pour into these girls.  In turn, I was pouring into myself.    

My 9-5 and my own business go hand and hand.  I founded La Femme (The Woman) and La Femme Magazine, in which we assist moms in stretching themselves and taking on new challenges wholeheartedly by inspiring and empowering them to overcome their fears.  I am able to purposely serve all day every day and it feels AweMazing!

Crystal: What is your advice for a young mother on the verge of giving up?

Vanetia: During this time of transition for me, I was also in a time of discovery for my true purpose.  People always say that in every experience there is a lesson, and I truly believe that.  While this was one of the hardest times for me in my life, it was also one of the most gratifying and heartfelt times of my life.  I discovered the true meaning of faith-walking.  I discovered just how much God truly loves me and carries me every day.  Giving up is not an option for you if you believe in God.  What will keep you is a mindset shift in knowing that you can and you will do all things through Christ who strengthens you.  Mothers are one of the strongest people I have ever met.  We were chosen to bear children for a reason, and that was because God knew that we could handle it.  Know that you can do anything with a plan.  It may take you a little longer, or you may have to go through a little more, but just know that it’s coming.  If I could leave 3 pieces of advice with you, I would say

  • Create a vision board- Being able to see the things your heart desires will help you accomplish them and empower you to keep pushing and do more.
  • Set goals- Yearly, Monthly, Weekly, and Daily
  • Implement- Saying it and doing it are two totally different things.  I know it’s hard, especially if you are doing it alone.  Trust me, I am living proof that you can.  Create a check list if you have to, but make sure you are doing the work.

Crystal: How did Hidden Figures impact your life? 

Vanetia: It inspired me to do more.  I currently have a magazine called La Femme (The Woman), in which I highlight women across the globe doing AweMazing things.  Hidden Figures just confirmed that La Femme is necessary.  If this movie had been shown years ago, how many young girls, minorities as a whole, do you think would have been impacted. 

Crystal: Did you know the Hidden Figures story prior to the movie? 

Vanetia: No.  This, like so many other stories, is why I love what I do with my magazine in highlighting community women.

Crystal: Who is your Hidden Figure/mentor?

Vanetia:  Donna Jenkins.  She is my mentor, my other mother, my friend.  She taught me everything I know about grant writing and she is one of my SHE Soldiers.  Our life’s missions are the same, to serve from our full heart.  She is a true Hidden Figure and I love her. 

Crystal: Muhammad Ali has a quote; “The service you do for others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” What does that quote mean to you?  

Vanetia: This quote is exactly what philanthropy is about, serve from your whole heart.  You should always have a giving heart because you never know when it will be you on the other end of the table.  Even when I think I don’t have, I still have it because someone comes through for me every time.  God’s favor is always upon me. 

Crystal: Do you have a favorite quote?

Vanetia: Yes, “Divorce your fears and marry your strength!”  ~ Vanetia Fahie

Crystal: What is your favorite book? 

Vanetia: I don’t have a favorite book.  I love to read anything that is inspiring, motivational, and empowering.  I take something different from every book I read, as they all touch me in a different way.

Crystal: What is your next philanthropic project?

Vanetia: How can the audience assist in this endeavor?  My next philanthropic project is the SHE Tour.  Through La Femme, we host events that inspire and empower mommies to be the women that God created them to be.  We will be hosting a 12 city tour which will include a Mommy & Me Shower, A Community Day Cookout, An Evening of SHE, and a Vision Board Brunch.  We are collecting self-care items and gift cards for the mommies and educational items for the children.   Anyone that would like to volunteer or would like to participate in any of the events can contact us at assistant@lafemme-inc.com.  You can visit our website at www.lafemme-inc.com and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @maglafemme to stay updated on events.

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

Vanetia: “Divorce your fears and marry your strength!” These are the words that I say to myself every day, because with every new day comes new fears.  You have to mentally prepare yourself for anything that comes up against you.  Never allow fear to stop you from doing anything.  Always remember, if God brought the vision to you, he will be there with you on the mission.  Every day I am on a mission to my vision, and you should be too.