Minute Mentor: Filmmaker and Educator Chad Quinn

Minute Mentor

Minute Mentor is a series of posts profiling real people achieving their dreams. It began with the simple idea that “seeing is being.”  When cofounders Rick and Faye’s oldest son was born, it was clear he was musically inclined. He was playing piano by ear at age 4 and neither of them ever even picked up an instrument! When Faye remembered an old neighbor who had gone on to become a Julliard trained musician, she immediately reached out to him and said, “What do we do?”  He patiently answered all of her questions on how best to nurture her budding musician.

Minute Mentor provides a space for real people to tell their stories so if you or your little one is in search of mentorship on how to achieve their dreams, you can look no further than right here! Sometimes the best inspiration comes from seeing someone that looks like you achieving similar goals.

If you have any questions or comments for the featured guest, leave a comment, and we will do our best to bring it to their attention! Happy imagining!

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NameChad Quinn

Age: 36

Occupation: Filmaker/Assistant Dean of Public Charter School

Career Level:

  • Entry
  • Mid-level
  • Executive
  • Entrepreneur
  • Retired

How hard do you work? 

  • Lots of Leisure Time
  • Typical 40-50hr Workweek
  • More than Average
  • I never stop working

Lifestyle/Income

  • Side Hustle/Didn’t Quit My Day Job
  • Getting By
  • My bills are Paid with Some Room for Fun
  • You get a car! You get a car!

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? Where do you currently reside?

[I was] born in North Carolina, raised in Jersey. I went to Temple University and obtained a degree in Marketing and Business Law.  I then went on to further my studies at Howard University School of Law. I’ve spent 12+ years in corporate America working for multiple Fortune 500 companies as a consultant and research analyst. But with all my work and studies, I’ve always wanted to make films.

 What kind of student were you?

Hmmm…somewhat troublesome. School came really easy for me.  [I] had mostly AP courses, so I would get in trouble for running my mouth and causing issues because I knew I was going to pass regardless. Then one day a teacher shared with me that although I was doing fine, my behavior was really affecting those I considered friends, that changed my perspective and helped me be more of a leader.

“I overcame adversity due to my willingness to continue to push through regardless of the obstacle. There is not one successful person on earth who’s done it all alone. I developed a very trustworthy and supportive team to help guide my career. From family to friends, I owe them so much credit for my success.”

Describe your current job/jobs.

I work with high school students (grades 9-12) on all types of issues relating to academic and behavioral performance. I’m also a filmmaker. I write constantly. I have multiple films that are now hitting the film festival circuit and a few projects I’ll be pitching to networks in the coming months.

What education level is required for your job? Tests? Certificates? Years of School?

Advanced degree to be a Dean of Admissions. Film, none, just a serious work ethic and dedication to the craft.

 Did you have a mentor/mentors? How did you meet?

On the film side, somewhat. We met during the shooting of one of my earlier projects and have been working closely ever since. She’s taught me a lot about the film industry, both from an artistic and business perspective.  

How did you get your current job?

Working my way up the ranks. I honestly come back to God’s favor. I started at the bottom of the totem pole with no prior experience in education and continued to foster relationships with both staff and students. Eventually, opportunities arose for me to move up in this field.

Do you find your work fulfilling?

Very. I couldn’t happier with both areas of my work. They provide me an opportunity to make tangible impacts to our society.

Did you always know you wanted to pursue your current career path?

I always knew I wanted to be an educator in some capacity. As far as filmmaking, I’ve been writing short stories since my early teen years. Watching a movie, from the opening credits/music, to trailers, everything about making movies just always fascinated me.

 What, if any, setbacks have you faced? How did you overcome them to accomplish your goals?

My setbacks are no different than those in other disciplines; rejection, lack of opportunity, discrimination, lack of support, lack of experience, etc. I overcame adversity due to my willingness to continue to push through regardless of the obstacle. There is not one successful person on earth who’s done it all alone. I developed a very trustworthy and supportive team to help guide my career. From family to friends, I owe them so much credit for my success.

“…the first and only person you need to sell your idea, dream, or whatever to, is yourself. Because there are many lonely and dark days to the path of success, if you don’t truly believe in what you’re trying to accomplish, then you won’t.”

What advice would you give a parent of a child/young adult interested in pursuing a job in your field? What advice would you give them on pursuing any career goal?

Don’t just say what you want to do, create a plan and then go out and execute. And this holds true with most things in life, if not all. Belief in yourself is the key. It sounds cliché, but the first and only person you need to sell your idea, dream, or whatever to, is yourself. Because there are many lonely and dark days to the path of success, if you don’t truly believe in what you’re trying to accomplish, then you won’t.

Anything you would like to add?

Be on the lookout for a few films I have slated for screenings in multiple cities within the next few months, Perceptions, #Trending and Mixed. To find out more specifically about Perceptions you can follow us at http://perceptionsmovie.com/. Additionally, I have a movie, Sex, Politics, Race and Religion, due to come out with TVOne next year.

Check out the trailer for Chad’s upcoming movie Perceptions here.

***

About The Author

Faye McCray is anMcCray_AuthorPhoto (1) attorney by day and writer all the time. Her work has been featured on My Brown Baby, AfroPunk, AfroNews, For HarrietMadame NoireBlack Girl NerdsBlack and Married with Kids, and other popular publications.  Faye also has a number of short stories and a full length novel available for purchase on Amazon.  Most importantly, Faye is a proud wife and mother to three beautiful and talented young boys who she is fiercely passionate about raising. You can find Faye on Twitter @fayewrites and on the web at fayemccray.com.

Minute Mentor: Social Worker and Motivational Speaker Shameeka Mattis-Pinard

Minute Mentor, Opinion

Minute Mentor is a series of posts profiling real people achieving their dreams. It began with the simple idea that “seeing is being.”  When cofounders Rick and Faye’s oldest son was born, it was clear he was musically inclined. He was playing piano by ear at age 4 and neither of them ever even picked up an instrument! When Faye remembered an old neighbor who had gone on to become a Julliard trained musician, she immediately reached out to him and said, “What do we do?”  He patiently answered all of her questions on how best to nurture her budding musician.

Minute Mentor provides a space for real people to tell their stories so if you or your little one is in search of mentorship on how to achieve their dreams, you can look no further than right here! Sometimes the best inspiration comes from seeing someone that looks like you achieving similar goals.

If you have any questions or comments for the featured guest, leave a comment, and we will do our best to bring it to their attention! Happy imagining!

shameeka

Name: Shameeka Mattis-Pinard, LMSW

Age: 35

Occupation: Social Worker

Education: Master’s Social Work ’05 University of Pennsylvania; Bachelor’s Degree (English & Sociology) ’03 SUNY Binghamton

Career Level:

  • Entry
  • Mid-level
  • Executive
  • Entrepreneur
  • Retired

How hard do you work? 

  • Lots of Leisure Time
  • Typical 40-50hr Workweek
  • More than Average
  • I never stop working

Lifestyle/Income

  • Side Hustle/Didn’t Quit My Day Job
  • Getting By
  • My bills are Paid with Some Room for Fun
  • You get a car! You get a car!

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?

I’m from Fort Greene, Brooklyn.  I was raised in the Ingersoll House i.e. “the projects.”  I currently reside in NYC. I’m a creative music lover, married and love my puppy.

What kind of student were you?

Since I can remember, I was an A student when I applied myself, but an A-/B+ student when I procrastinated or didn’t study well, which was often.  I was always curious, questioning, intrigued by learning, a strong writer, and creative.  I was rowdy and talkative, but astute.  So, [I was] a cool brainiac that would fight or flip at the drop of a dime, but whom teachers loved and scolded equally.  I also made friends with everyone and have some of those friendships to this day.

I was a rough kid with a sharp mind and even sharper mouth, but I believed I could be successful because [my] mentors were my daily examples.

Describe your current job/jobs.

I’m the Director of Programs for a victim service and alternative to incarceration program based in restorative justice in NYC for young adults who commit violent crime.  Responsible parties get a chance to make amends with the people they hurt and instead of going to prison, they remain free without felonies on their records if they complete the program.  I supervise the counselors, develop anti-violence curriculum, interface with the courts, set organizational policies, and build community partnerships.  I’m also a motivational speaker, educator and writer.

What education level is required for your job? Tests? Certificates? Years of School?

A master’s is required for my position.  College graduates from the associate to bachelor level are employed where I work.  However, having a Master of Social Work degree enabled me to make more decisions, have great autonomy, supervise anyone, have leverage and get paid very well.

Did you have a mentor/mentors? How did you meet?

To this day, I’m still in contact with my mentors and close to many of them.  Since I was age 3 or 4, I had mostly Black women in my life that helped me discover myself, love myself, aim high and never settle.  I was a rough kid with a sharp mind and even sharper mouth, but I believed I could be successful because these mentors were my daily examples.  I met most mentors in school, but a few connected with me when I attended church and recreational activities.

How did you get your current job?

I worked in criminal justice in Philadelphia after finishing graduate school, grew tired of those particular jobs and wanted to move back to NYC, particularly to Brooklyn, where I knew my field had innovative opportunities.  I also knew I deserved more money and had talents to expand upon, so I spoke to friends & former professors that encouraged me to consider a prominent criminal justice advocacy and research agency.  When I received an interview, I researched the agency and program, brought my A-game, and the rest is history.  I began my job the day after I helped to elect President Obama to his first term, so that helped it feel extra special.  Talk about a fresh start!

It’s difficult but life-changing work, so I surround myself with people who are good at what they do and who push me to be great.

Is your job family-friendly?

Yes, it is.  Plenty of children are welcome and other family members too.  I’ve even been able to bring my dog to work.

Do you find your work fulfilling?

It is fulfilling, but not just because I get to work with incredible young adults, or because of the impact I’m able to make in their lives.  It’s fulfilling because I aim to do my best, ask for and accept feedback, hold myself to the same standards I request of others, including my clients, and I have fun along the way whenever possible.  It’s difficult but life-changing work, so I surround myself with people who are good at what they do and who push me to be great.  I work hard, so my social network of family and friends helps me stay balanced.

Did you always know you wanted to pursue your current career path?

I was naturally drawn to justice work, teaching and counseling as a kid, but I also like to help solve difficult issues.  So I was convinced I would pursue many careers, but social work just seemed portable and full of options by the time I was a junior in college.  I genuinely liked its principles.  So far, I’m not disappointed in the choices I made and path I took.  I stay open to all opportunities because I have many skills and know how to make connections with anyone.

To all my young people, think of the problems you want to solve, not what you want to be or do.  Have fun, learn how to communicate effectively, and remember that you are limitless.

What, if any, setbacks have you faced? How did you overcome them to accomplish your goals?

I used to fight daily as a kid.  Then I argued all the time because I always thought I was right and didn’t know my worth or appreciate other’s differences.  I developed a healthy self-esteem in spite of my poverty as a young black girl and I channeled my talents through academics and sports, surrounding myself with people who encouraged me to shine.  I learned how to be humble.  I was the first person in my family to graduate college and that was huge because both my parents were functionally illiterate and didn’t finish high school.  However, my mom died right after I graduated from college, and I grieved her absence a long time before learning to accept that death is a part of life.  It [was] then [that] I remembered the gifts she instilled in me and understood how they would never leave me.  I don’t forget the people who helped me and the gifts God gave me to share with the world.  I am diligent about asking for help from those closest to me when needed and I keep it real no matter where I go.

What advice would you give a parent of a child/young adult interested in pursuing a job in your field? What advice would you give them on pursuing any career goal?

Don’t push your children to do ANYTHING.  Be patient.  Encourage their curiosity, support their uniqueness and praise them for incremental efforts and success.  Your child is not one size fits all.  Also, your children are not carbon copies of you because they were born as whole people with dreams and purpose.  To all my young people, think of the problems you want to solve, not what you want to be or do.  Have fun, learn how to communicate effectively, and remember that you are limitless.  Don’t rush to grow up.  Have authentic relationships with yourself and others and be honest with yourself always.   Surround yourself with people who are doing productive things because you gain motivation from their success and it generates your own.

***

About The Author

Faye McCray is anMcCray_AuthorPhoto (1) attorney by day and writer all the time. Her work has been featured on My Brown Baby, AfroPunk, AfroNews, For HarrietMadame NoireBlack Girl NerdsBlack and Married with Kids, and other popular publications.  Faye also has a number of short stories and a full length novel available for purchase on Amazon.  Most importantly, Faye is a proud wife and mother to three beautiful and talented young boys who she is fiercely passionate about raising. You can find Faye on Twitter @fayewrites and on the web at fayemccray.com.

Minute Mentor: Internal Medicine Physician Dr. Walters

Minute Mentor

Minute Mentor is a series of posts profiling real people achieving their dreams. It began with the simple idea that “seeing is being.”  When cofounders Rick and Faye’s oldest son was born, it was clear he was musically inclined. He was playing piano by ear at age 4 and neither of them ever even picked up an instrument! When Faye remembered an old neighbor who had gone on to become a Julliard trained musician, she immediately reached out to him and said, “What do we do?”  He patiently answered all of her questions on how best to nurture her budding musician.

Minute Mentor provides a space for real people to tell their stories so if you or your little one is in search of mentorship on how to achieve their dreams, you can look no further than right here! Sometimes the best inspiration comes from seeing someone that looks like you achieving similar goals.

If you have any questions or comments for the featured guest, leave a comment, and we will do our best to bring it to their attention! Happy imagining!

image1

Name: Dr. Walters

Age Category: 25-40

Occupation: Physician

Education: Bachelors degree; Masters degree; Medical degree

Career Level:

  • Entry
  • Mid-level
  • Executive
  • Entrepreneur
  • Retired

How hard do you work? 

  • Lots of Leisure Time
  • Typical 40-50hr Workweek
  • More than Average
  • I never stop working

Lifestyle/Income

  • Side Hustle/Didn’t Quit My Day Job
  • Getting By
  • My bills are Paid with Some Room for Fun
  • You get a car! You get a car!

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?

I hail from the beautiful island of Jamaica and grew up in New York City, land of opportunity

What kind of student were you?

I have always loved school. I was the type of student who would cry if there was a snow day, and I was unable to attend. I loved school for two reasons: 1) I truly enjoyed learning and 2) I wanted to spend time with my friends. My motivation to work hard in school was mainly to see the look of pride on my parent’s faces.

Describe your current job/jobs:

I am an Internal Medicine doctor. As an Internal Medicine doctor, I treat sick people ages 18 and older. My day consists of admitting patients to the hospital and then taking care of them throughout their stay in the hospital. I work with a comprehensive health care team that includes, but not limited to nurses, dieticians, physical therapists, case managers, and other physicians to provide the best care possible to bring about healing.

What education level is required for your job? Tests? Certificates? Years of School?

A Bachelor’s Degree of any type (as long as prerequisite classes for medical school are taken), Medical school (4 yrs) and an Internal Medicine Residency program (3 yrs).

It’s not often one has a childhood dream that comes to fruition. This has been a long and ardous journey. With the changes in healthcare and the typical work place politics, when I walk into a patient’s room and see their gratitude for my service and sometimes their happiness that I simply just listened to them, it reminds me of why I chose to be a doctor in the first place: to provide excellent health care with compassion.

Did you have a mentor/mentors? How did you meet?

I have had mentors along the way at each juncture of my educational journey. The most consistent and salient mentor that I have has been my husband. He has had spent numerous years working in higher education and has had much experience with the graduate school process. He has been not only my biggest cheerleader but has also helped me to figure out the steps necessary to each stage of my journey. Whatever he did not know, he would look it up or find someone who could help answer questions. That type of dedication makes him an ideal mentor. One does not have to have the same experiences you are seeking, but if they are committed to your success, then it is an ideal mentor-mentee partnership.

How did you get your current job?

I was recruited by a headhunter.

Is your job family-friendly?

Yes, I typically work 12 hours days, but being a team in marriage makes it more than manageable.

Do you find your work fulfilling?

Extremely! It’s not often one has a childhood dream that comes to fruition. This has been a long and ardous journey. With the changes in healthcare and the typical work place politics, when I walk into a patient’s room and see their gratitude for my service and sometimes their happiness that I simply just listened to them, it reminds me of why I chose to be a doctor in the first place: to provide excellent health care with compassion.

Did you always know you wanted to be a doctor?

Yes, I have known since I was in probably in the 2nd grade. I was inspired by Bill Cosby’s character, Cliff Huxtable, on the Cosby show. At that time, up until my 1st year of medical school, I was set on being an Obstetrician/Gynecologist, which is a type of doctor who delivered babies and took care of women’s reproductive health. I quickly realized that I wanted a broader scope of practice, which led me to the practice of internal medicine.

 What, if any, setbacks have you faced? How did you overcome them to accomplish your goals?

I think of it more so as challenges that encouraged me to change habits that were not beneficial to my success. I had to improve study habits; dedicating more time to researching my interests, being flexible about things that were out of my control; and most importantly, actively speaking words of faith and encouragement to myself. Most of my “setbacks” were due to unproductive and false worrying about my own intelligence and abilities.

You are enough and worthy. If you want to become a doctor and provide excellent compassionate care, then stay the course. It is a long journey, and there are many other fields/jobs that have a much more truncated path but if this is your dream, then find mentors and resources to make your dream a reality.

What advice would you give a parent of a child/young adult interested in pursuing a job in your field? What advice would you give them on pursuing any career goal?

You are enough and worthy. If you want to become a doctor and provide excellent compassionate care, then stay the course. It is a long journey, and there are many other fields/jobs that have a much more truncated path but if this is your dream, then find mentors and resources to make your dream a reality.

Any journey that you choose is never taken alone. Be grateful and acknowledge those that have supported you throughout. They are invaluable and necessary.

***

About The Author

Faye McCray is anMcCray_AuthorPhoto (1) attorney by day and writer all the time. Her work has been featured on My Brown Baby, AfroPunk, AfroNews, For HarrietMadame NoireBlack Girl NerdsBlack and Married with Kids, and other popular publications.  Faye also has a number of short stories and a full length novel available for purchase on Amazon.  Most importantly, Faye is a proud wife and mother to three beautiful and talented young boys who she is fiercely passionate about raising. You can find Faye on Twitter @fayewrites and on the web at fayemccray.com.

Minute Mentor: Change Agent and Social Justice Advocate Tami Sawyer

Minute Mentor

Minute Mentor is a series of posts profiling real people achieving their dreams. It began with the simple idea that “seeing is being.”  When cofounders Rick and Faye’s oldest son was born, it was clear he was musically inclined. He was playing piano by ear at age 4 and neither of them ever even picked up an instrument! When Faye remembered an old neighbor who had gone on to become a Julliard trained musician, she immediately reached out to him and said, “What do we do?”  He patiently answered all of her questions on how best to nurture her budding musician.

Minute Mentor provides a space for real people to tell their stories so if you or your little one is in search of mentorship on how to achieve their dreams, you can look no further than right here! Sometimes the best inspiration comes from seeing someone that looks like you achieving similar goals.

If you have any questions or comments for the featured guest, leave a comment, and we will do our best to bring it to their attention! Happy imagining!

tamitedx

Name: Tami Sawyer

Age Category: 25-40

Occupation: Director, Diversity & Cultural Competence, Teach For America Memphis/Social Justice Advocate

Education: Bachelors, Political Science

Career Level:

  • Entry
  • Mid-level
  • Executive
  • Entrepreneur
  • Retired

How hard do you work? 

  • Lots of Leisure Time
  • Typical 40-50hr Workweek
  • More than Average
  • I never stop working

Lifestyle/Income

  • Side Hustle/Didn’t Quit My Day Job
  • Getting By
  • My bills are Paid with Some Room for Fun
  • You get a car! You get a car!

Where are you from?  Memphis, TN

What kind of student were you?

I was shy in lower elementary. I did my work diligently and kept it moving. I felt out of place because I would get pulled out of class, because my parents taught me to read young. So I would go to reading groups. Coming back into classrooms was always tough. I didn’t really find my voice until 7th grade when I began school at St. Mary’s Episcopal School. Being in an all-girl school with a highly academic environment empowered me. I broke out of my shell, maybe too much!

“During my 20s, I dropped out of law school, I wasn’t sure what would be next in my life. I tried many different business endeavors, some which were successful, some which never made it out my notebook. What I learned during that time is that all I have to do when I fall is get back up. You only lose by staying on the ground.”

Describe your current job:

As Director, Diversity & Cultural Competence for Teach For America Memphis, I am responsible for setting our region’s vision on cultural competence development and social justice engagement. My current vision is to develop teacher leaders and staff who understand social justice and it’s role in education, acknowledge their privilege and utilize it for the greater good and eschew biases to positively impact our communities.  Additionally, I organize around Social Justice issues in the Memphis community, responding to social justice infractions and advocating for people of color.

What education level is required for your job? Tests? Certificates? Years of School?

Bachelor’s Degree [undergraduate degree attained after high school typically requiring four years at an accredited university].

Do you find your work fulfilling?

I find my job with Teach For America to be very fulfilling. It is truly a situation where I am getting paid to do what I love. Some days are tough as I am working to break down systems and biases, but I see the outcome of being committed to this fight daily.

Did you always know you wanted to be a Diversity Practitioner/Social Justice Advocate?

No. I knew I wanted to have a voice. I knew I saw injustice everywhere and every day. I knew black people needed a win. I didn’t know what my role would be.

What, if any, setbacks have you faced? How did you overcome them to accomplish your goals?

I face setbacks weekly. Working in the community, in politics and education all at once, means at least once a week, something isn’t going to go my way. I have a lot of resilience. During my 20s, I dropped out of law school, I wasn’t sure what would be next in my life. I tried many different business endeavors, some which were successful, some which never made it out my notebook. What I learned during that time is that all I have to do when I fall is get back up. You only lose by staying on the ground. Losing my campaign for TN State Rep would be considered a setback by many, but I have found it to be just the opposite. It has increased my network and ability to help affect change in my community.

“Let your children be who they are destined to be. Don’t push any career on them, but allow them to pursue their interests naturally.”

What advice would you give a parent of a child/young adult interested in pursuing a job in your field? What advice would you give them on pursuing any career goal?

Let your children be who they are destined to be. Don’t push any career on them, but allow them to pursue their interests naturally.

 

You can find Tami on Twitter @tamisawyer,  Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tamisawyertn and Instagram: @tamisawyer.

You can check out her TED Talk below:

***

About The Author

Faye McCray is anMcCray_AuthorPhoto (1) attorney by day and writer all the time. Her work has been featured on My Brown Baby, AfroPunk, AfroNews, For HarrietMadame NoireBlack Girl NerdsBlack and Married with Kids, and other popular publications.  Faye also has a number of short stories and a full length novel available for purchase on Amazon.  Most importantly, Faye is a proud wife and mother to three beautiful and talented young boys who she is fiercely passionate about raising. You can find Faye on Twitter @fayewrites and on the web at fayemccray.com.

Minute Mentor: School Counselor Tanefa Wallace

Inspiration, Minute Mentor

Minute Mentor is a series of posts profiling real people achieving their dreams. It began with the simple idea that “seeing is being.”  When cofounders Rick and Faye’s oldest son was born, it was clear he was musically inclined. He was playing piano by ear at age 4 and neither of them ever even picked up an instrument! When Faye remembered an old neighbor who had gone on to become a Julliard trained musician, she immediately reached out to him and said, “What do we do?”  He patiently answered all of her questions on how best to nurture her budding musician.

Minute Mentor provides a space for real people to tell their stories so if you or your little one is in search of mentorship on how to achieve their dreams, you can look no further than right here! Sometimes the best inspiration comes from seeing someone that looks like you achieving similar goals.

If you have any questions or comments for the featured guest, leave a comment, and we will do our best to bring it to their attention! Happy imagining!

Name: Tanefa Wallace

Age: 40 and over

Occupation: School Counselor

Career Level:

  • Entry
  • Mid-level
  • Executive
  • Entrepreneur
  • Retired

How hard do you work? 

  • Lots of Leisure Time
  • Typical 40-50hr Workweek
  • More than Average
  • I never stop working

Lifestyle/Income: 

  • Side Hustle/Didn’t Quit My Day Job
  • Getting By
  • My bills are Paid with Some Room for Fun
  • You get a car! You get a car!

Describe your job:

I am a [high school] counselor, so that means that I wipe tears over lost boyfriends and “crazy” parents, and I help students keep their grades up and focus on goals to reach college. I also help students apply [to college] and figure out where to apply to be the most successful.

What education level is required for your job? Tests? Certificates? Years of School?

In order to do my job you have to have a [Bachelor’s] degree and a Master’s degree. You also have to be certified as a School Counselor by the educational district where you are working. In order to maintain your certification, you have to complete at least 6 continuing education credits in your field or CEUs through workshops in your field. The years of school add up! There are 4 for undergrad and 2 for graduate/masters work, then you have to continue to go back to school or to trainings to stay sharp and above the fray! Some schools require exit exams, and if you want to become a Nationally Certified School Counselor, you have to take an exam that qualifies you for that level of work.

“I find that when you are new to your field or want to be cutting edge, you have to seek out the people who are doing what you do well.”

What kind of student were you?

I was [an] on again off again student. I had a childhood that was fraught with trauma so there was a lot of times where I didn’t want to be in school and didn’t live up to my potential as a student. I was a B student with a few Cs here and there but it didn’t reflect my ability levels at all.  I was exceptional on all of the standardized testings and was even awarded a full academic ride to an HBCU, including room and board.

Did you have a mentor? How did you meet?

I have one now. I met her through a recommendation. I have had one in every job I have ever had. I find that when you are new to your field or want to be cutting edge, you have to seek out the people who are doing what you do well. Befriend them, get them to give you all of their secrets, and show them your appreciation in ways they will enjoy.

How did you get your current job?

I was picked out of 300 applicants based on my interview and resume.

Is your job family-friendly?

I am able to be a parent and do it without too much pressure. I am in the school system [so] I have the same days off and summers and winter break [as my children].  So, I would say yes, it is very family friendly.

Do you find your work fulfilling?

Yes! I love it. I thoroughly enjoy bonding with the students and assisting them navigate life as they know it, the processes of getting to their goal schools, and [their] lives once they graduate. It gives me a sense of purpose and allows me to use my gifts in service to students and families.

Did you always know you wanted to be a school counselor?

No! I wanted to be a radio DJ. I love music, and [I] love interacting with those types of creative folks. After all, I am a creative as well on my own time.

What advice would you give a parent of a child/young adult interested in pursuing a job in your field? 

Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons: love of children and students, a passion to serve educationally, work with the general public, a strong urge to be organized and assist students to reach their goals. Being a highly organized person is a plus! I would also state that being certified and attending an accredited institution would be beneficial to being able to do your job efficiently by creating a strong knowledge base.

You can find out more about Tanefa Wallace:

On Instagram: @Soul_On_Purpose
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/SoulOnPurpose
On the Web: www.SoulOnPurpose.wix.com/soulonpurpose

***

About The Author

Faye McCray is anMcCray_AuthorPhoto (1) attorney by day and writer all the time. Her work has been featured on My Brown Baby, AfroPunk, AfroNews, For HarrietMadame NoireBlack Girl NerdsBlack and Married with Kids, and other popular publications.  Faye also has a number of short stories and a full length novel available for purchase on Amazon.  Most importantly, Faye is a proud wife and mother to three beautiful and talented young boys who she is fiercely passionate about raising. You can find Faye on Twitter @fayewrites and on the web at fayemccray.com.

 

Meet Lynquay Sanford: Incredible Mom and Entrepreneur Who Returned to School to Pursue Her Dreams

Inspiration, Minute Mentor

When I was nine, my mother went back to school to pursue her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science.  Just a few year earlier, she and my father went through a tough divorce, and she was left as the primary guardian of me and my two older brothers. Even as a kid, I understood the magnitude of her decision to go back to school.  I knew she had to overcome naysayers, self-doubt and the financial uncertainty of pursuing a degree while working full-time and raising three kids. My own mother’s choice to achieve her dreams not only changed the opportunities available to me and my brothers, it motivated me to pursue my own dreams.  When I heard Lynquay Sanford’s story of similar fortitude and grit for her own children, I knew I had to talk to her to learn more.

1. Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? Where do you live? How would people who know you describe you?

My name is Lynquay Sanford, and I was born and raised in Queens, NY. I currently reside in Wendell, NC. People would describe me as being very straight forward, funny, strong-willed, caring, loving, and a great friend and motivator. I am always open to new ideas. I am also a great mother to my children.

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2.What made you decide to go back to school?

I opened a Family Child Care Home because I wasn’t satisfied with the child care centers in my area that my son attended. I wanted to learn more about how I can help preschool children and bring quality education to my Family Child Care Home. I started off by taking one class that is required to operate a Family Child Care Home. I liked it so much that I decided to pursue a degree in Early Childhood Education.

3. What were you doing before you decided to go back to school?

I was an EMT and I worked at a level one trauma center in Raleigh, NC dispatching helicopters and transport ambulances.

4. How did you prepare to get your degree? For example, internships, certifications, application process. How much time did it take?

I received my Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education in December 2015. I will continue on to pursue my Bachelor’s degree in Early Care and Education and or Human Development and Family Service. What prepared me for this was operating my Family Child Care Home. I stepped out on faith and started my childcare business. It may take me three years to receive my Bachelor’s degree as I will be taking classes online and at my own pace. The cost of pursing any degree is expensive; however, I’ve graduated debt free because I had a scholarship to attend school. I will also be on a scholarship when I return to school the fall of 2017.

5. What do you plan to do with/have you done with your degree?

My plan is to expand my Child Care home and open a Child Care Center and or ½ day preschool.

“I was going through a very difficult divorce and working 7 days a week the last two years of me being in school. I’ve wanted to throw in the towel many times, but I couldn’t help but look at my children, especially my daughter, to show them no matter how tough life gets never give up.”

6. Who was your biggest inspiration? Mentors? Family? Friends?

I have so many people that have inspired me into going back to school. I was introduced to a group of ladies, all African American, who owned child care centers and family child care homes. They inspired me to stay in school and obtain my degree. My child care consultant also stayed on me to stay in school. I also come from a long line of strong black females, including my mother, grandmother and aunt, that inspired me to follow my dreams.

7. What was your biggest motivation? In other words, what kept you going?

My children kept me going. I also had the support of my mother and close friends who stepped in to help me with my children while I attended school at night.

8. Did you experience any setbacks? How did you overcome them?

Yes, I had many setbacks. I was going through a very difficult divorce and working 7 days a week the last two years of me being in school. I’ve wanted to throw in the towel many times but I couldn’t help but look at my children, especially my daughter, to show them no matter how tough life gets never give up. Just take your time pray about what you are going through and keep on moving. I tell them all the time that God does not give you or put you through anything he thinks you cannot handle.

9. If you had a chance to go back in time and speak to your 15 year old self, a) would she be surprised to see where you are now? b) what would you say to her?

Surprised? Yes! I thought I wanted to be a Veterinarian. I did not know anything about owning anything at that age. I would tell my 15 year old self to stay head strong and that she can do anything she puts her mind to. I would tell her that she is stronger than she thinks she is.

“Don’t let people change your mind or put doubt in your mind. Surround yourself with people who will push you and not distract you from pursing your dreams.”

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10. What advice would you give to someone thinking about going back to school or going after any dream?

Do it. Don’t let people change your mind or put doubt in your mind. Surround yourself with people who will push you and not distract you from pursing your dreams. Surround yourself with people who will be honest with you when you have those weak moments from pursuing your dreams. Also, know that it will not be easy but if you want it bad enough, you can achieve it. Success does not happen overnight.

11. Any long term goals or dreams?

My long term goal is to stop working 7 days a week. My dream is to have several child care centers and half-day preschools that will service low income families and families with special needs children.

Check out Lynquay’s Family Child Care Home, Open Arms Daycare here.

***

About The Author

Faye McCray is anMcCray_AuthorPhoto (1) attorney by day and writer all the time. Her work has been featured on My Brown Baby, AfroPunk, AfroNews, For HarrietMadame NoireBlack Girl NerdsBlack and Married with Kids, and other popular publications.  Faye also has a number of short stories and a full length novel available for purchase on Amazon.  Most importantly, Faye is a proud wife and mother to three beautiful and talented young boys who she is fiercely passionate about raising. You can find Faye on Twitter @fayewrites and on the web at fayemccray.com.

From Long Beach to Valedictorian: Interview with University of Memphis Head Chef Tyrece Higdon

Minute Mentor

Pursuing a dream is rarely, if ever, easy.  Along the way, you inevitably face set-backs and obstacles that stop many people before they even started.  University of Memphis Head Chef Tyrece Higdon is not one of those people. Check out the inspiring story of his road to success.

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Q. Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? Where do you live? How would people who know you describe you? 

A. I was born and raised in Long Beach, NY.  I currently reside in Millington, TN.  I am very outgoing, laid back, silly, and all about positive thinking.

Q. Describe your job. 

A. I am the Kitchen Manager/Head Chef over Residential Dining at the University of Memphis.  I am responsible for ensuring over 1,200 people are fed daily.  On a daily basis, I lead a crew of cooks to produce food from standardized recipes.  In addition to overseeing the food production, I do the ordering, keep track of inventory, station merchandising, and training, just to name a few of my tasks.

Q. What were you doing before you decided to pursue culinary arts?

A. I owned a bread route in the Memphis Area, waking up at 2:30am, 7 days a week.

Q. What made you decide to change careers?

A. I ruptured my Achilles tendon.  Being a route owner, I was forced to sell my route due to being physically unable to run my business  effectively.

“I have two children that mean the world to me.  I wanted to show them to never give up on your dreams.  So, I hopped into culinary school on crutches and walked out Valedictorian.”

Q. What did you have to do to pursue your current career? For example, education, internships, certifications. How much time did it take? 

A. I started school at the age of 33, with NO restaurant knowledge.  I used financial aid assistance, student loan approval (40k), a lot of determination and on crutches.  I spent two years in Culinary School.  Then, I worked as a Sous chef for 3 years and I have been working catering events for 3 years.

Q. Who was your biggest inspiration? Mentors? Family? Friends?

I would most definitely say my mother.  To watch her have the strength to raise 4 children and fight and defeat her demons gave me that kick I needed to not just “TRY” but “DO.”

Q. What was your biggest motivation? In other words, what kept you going?

A. I have two children that mean the world to me.  I wanted to show them to never give up on your dreams.  So, I hopped into culinary school on crutches and walked out Valedictorian.

Q. Did you experience any setbacks? How did you overcome them?

My only setback was the inconvenience of being partially disabled, due to crutches and a walking cast.  Since I was unable to hang out or do a lot of ripping/running, I utilized my time to study fiercely.

“When it comes to pursuing dreams, give your all to it.  Use your nervousness as adrenaline to do great.  Don’t be afraid to fail at first because even a failed attempt is experience and knowledge of what not to do.”

Q. If you had a chance to go back in time and speak to your 15 year old self, a) would he be surprised to see where you are now? b) what would you say to him?

A. If I could speak to the skinny young me, I’d probably laugh at the weight I’ve gained, since I never thought, I could gain weight. I know I’d be giving myself a high five being that I made the decision back then that these streets will always be here.  I would tell young me to focus more in school.  You have a brain so use it and stop worrying if your so called friends are jealous. Do you with no holdbacks.

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Q. What advice would you give to someone thinking about pursuing culinary arts or going after any dream?

If going into the culinary arts field, know for sure that this is what you want.  If you are going just to learn how to cook using different methods, that’s cool, but very expensive if you are not putting the learned knowledge to use.  If you are going to become a great chef, who is passionate about his/her craft, and wants to teach others, then by all means, the right program is worth it.  When it comes to pursuing dreams, give your all to it.  Use your nervousness as adrenaline to do great.  Don’t be afraid to fail at first because even a failed attempt is experience and knowledge of what not to do.

Q. Any long-term goals or dreams?

I hope to one day be able to instruct urban youth on how to prepare nutritional meals.  I have been blessed with a strong culinary IQ, and I would love more than anything to help the youth and have the tradition carried on.

***

Minute Mentor provides a space for real people to tell their stories so if you or your little one is in search of mentorship on how to achieve their dreams, you can look no further than right here! Sometimes the best inspiration comes from seeing someone that looks like you achieving similar goals.

If you have any questions or comments for the featured guest, leave a comment, and we will do our best to bring it to their attention! Happy imagining!

***

About The Author

Faye McCray is anMcCray_AuthorPhoto (1) attorney by day and writer all the time. Her work has been featured on My Brown Baby, AfroPunk, AfroNews, For HarrietMadame NoireBlack Girl NerdsBlack and Married with Kids, and other popular publications.  Faye also has a number of short stories and a full length novel available for purchase on Amazon.  Most importantly, Faye is a proud wife and mother to three beautiful and talented young boys who she is fiercely passionate about raising. You can find Faye on Twitter @fayewrites and on the web at fayemccray.com.

Minute Mentor: Clinical Psychologist and Columnist Napoleon Wells

Minute Mentor

Minute Mentor is a series of posts profiling real people achieving their dreams. It began with the simple idea that “seeing is being.”  When cofounders Rick and Faye’s oldest son was born, it was clear he was musically inclined. He was playing piano by ear at age 4 and neither of them ever even picked up an instrument! When Faye remembered an old neighbor who had gone on to become a Julliard trained musician, she immediately reached out to him and said, “What do we do?”  He patiently answered all of her questions on how best to nurture her budding musician.

Minute Mentor provides a space for real people to tell their stories so if you or your little one is in search of mentorship on how to achieve their dreams, you can look no further than right here! Sometimes the best inspiration comes from seeing someone that looks like you achieving similar goals.

If you have any questions or comments for the featured guest, leave a comment, and we will do our best to bring it to their attention! Happy imagining!

Name: Napoleon Wells

Age: 38

Occupation: Clinical Psychologist, Columnist for The Good Men Project (“These Thoughts Are FREE”)

Education: Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, Fordham University

Career Level:

  • Entry
  • Mid-level
  • Executive
  • Entrepreneur
  • Retired

How hard do you work? 

  • Lots of Leisure Time
  • Typical 40-50hr Workweek
  • More than Average
  • I never stop working

Lifestyle/Income: 

  • Side Hustle/Didn’t Quit My Day Job
  • Getting By
  • My bills are Paid with Some Room for Fun
  • You get a car! You get a car!

Describe your job:

I am the Chief Behaviorist for the Primary Care Behavioral Health Program at a Veterans Affairs Hospital. Most of my days involve coordinating the workload of my mental health staff and seeing veterans for mental health care. Lots of calls, crisis management, a few meetings and lots of healing and human affirmation. I also perform speaking engagements focusing on curing racism every couple of months, and I am a social justice columnist for the Good Men Project. All in all, my job(s) is/are awesome.

What education level is required for your job? Tests? Certificates? Years of School?

Typically, you give yourself the greatest worklife flexibility as a Psychologist when you obtain your Ph.D. It makes you the field’s highest level expert and allows for consulting, private practice, and teaching opportunities. There are, however, many MA level psychologists with practices in the community. You will need your typical 4 years of college and about another 6 years to complete the Ph.D. It can be done in five by superheroes, and if you are reading this, you are, of course, a superhero.

What kind of student were you?

Very driven, always mindful of my goals, determined to always turn what I knew were internal and external doubts into results.

Did you have a mentor? How did you meet?

I had several actually. I sought out mentors in college whenever the chance arose. I sought people out with whom I could discuss my goals and who would help me chart a course. While at Binghamton University, I was fortunate to meet three of the best mentors one could have, Cecil Walters, Dr. Joseph Morrissey and Dr. Leo Wilton. I think that mentor/mentee relationships should develop organically. For me, that meant seeking out individuals that I knew would drive me forward. It took a bit of patience and willingness on their part.

How did you get your current job?

Part of my clinical training was in a Veterans Affairs hospital and I was offered a position upon completing my training. I was fortunate to have superiors that valued my work while I was a trainee and invited me on board.

Is your job family-friendly?

You can typically use your earned leave time as you please, but the day to day workspace and worksite are not what one would call family friendly.

Do you find your work fulfilling?

Very much so. I get to bear witness to the strength and resolve of the human condition, and to be a companion for people to heal themselves who believed that they may have been broken.

Did you always know you wanted to be a Psychologist?

No. I wanted to be a poet, and I may still pursue that if I can guarantee that I would avoid homelessness, in its pursuit.

What advice would you give a parent of a child/young adult interested in pursuing a job in your field?

Certainly have a mentor to guide you through some of the process. Learn as much as you can about lay Psychology, have an invested interest in the human condition and learn to write, write , write.

***

You can find Napoleon on Twitter @NapoleonBXSith and on his website at www.napoleondwells.blogspot.com.

You can also check out his TED talk below:

 

Minute Mentor: Attorney and Author Faye McCray

Minute Mentor

Minute Mentor is a series of posts profiling real people achieving their dreams. It began with the simple idea that “seeing is being.”  When cofounders Rick and Faye’s oldest son was born, it was clear he was musically inclined. He was playing piano by ear at age 4 and neither of them ever even picked up an instrument! When Faye remembered an old neighbor who had gone on to become a Julliard trained musician, she immediately reached out to him and said, “What do we do?”  He patiently answered all of her questions on how best to nurture her budding musician.

Minute Mentor provides a space for real people to tell their stories so if you or your little one is in search of mentorship on how to achieve their dreams, you can look no further than right here! Sometimes the best inspiration comes from seeing someone that looks like you achieving similar goals.

If you have any questions or comments for the featured guest, leave a comment, and we will do our best to bring it to their attention! Happy imagining!

***

Name: Faye

Age Range: 35

Occupation: Attorney/Writer

Education: Bachelor’s Degree in English, Juris Doctor Degree (Law Degree)

Career Level:

  • Entry
  • Mid-level
  • Executive
  • Entrepreneur
  • Retired

How hard do you work? 

  • Lots of Leisure Time
  • Typical 40-50hr Workweek
  • More than Average
  • I never stop working

Lifestyle/Income: 

  • Side Hustle/Didn’t Quit My Day Job
  • Getting By
  • My bills are Paid with Some Room for Fun
  • You get a car! You get a car!

Describe your job:

By day, I am a government attorney working in public service.  I am also a traditionally published and self-published author.  I teach writing courses. I also blog and write articles online.  In addition, I manage this lovely website.

What education level is required for your job? Tests? Certificates? Years of school?

In order to be an attorney, I had to graduate high school, get my college degree (4 years), and go to law school (3 years).  I had to take the SAT to get into college, the LSAT to get into law school, and after I graduated law school, I had to take a state bar to practice law in the state I live in.

Writing is different. I have been writing since I was six years old! Technically, you don’t need a particular degree to be a writer.  My major in college was in English so that was extremely helpful because I was able to practice my writing, have it graded, and receive feedback from my peers.  That made me a better writer.  Some people go on to get their Master’s degree in Fine Arts which enables them to specialize in a particular kind of writing like screenwriting or playwriting.  It also gives them the option to teach!

Take it one step at a time.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you look at the big picture and not all the small steps it takes to get there.  It is not insurmountable.  I would also say surround your children with people who are goal-oriented.  Laziness is contagious! I make it a habit to never be the smartest person in the room. If I am, I work to get out as soon as possible. I want people around me who will elevate me and not drag me down.

What kind of student were you?

I was an A & B student for most of my education. I struggled more in math and science because I am more creative by nature.  Law school was more challenging for me but I don’t think anyone finds law school easy!

Did you have a mentor? How did you meet?

I have had a number of mentors throughout my career.  My legal mentors were mostly professors and employers.  My most impactful mentor relationships happened organically with people I genuinely liked.  I didn’t have to try too hard.  As I have grown in my career, many of those relationships have turned into friendships.

In writing, some of my mentors were professors. Others were people I met along the way at writing groups and meet-ups.  Being a writer can be isolating! If you are an introvert (like me), you have to constantly push yourself to go out and meet other writers.  I live in the DMV, so I have taken workshops at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda which have been wonderful for meeting other writers and honing the craft!

How did you get your current job?

I applied for my day (legal) job through a notice that went out through my law school’s alumni network.

As a writer, I work on my own schedule.

Is your job family-friendly?

My day job is very family-friendly. I am an attorney with the government, so usually I am able to get off work by 5pm.  I also work from home a great deal which is awesome.

Writing is different. It’s easy to get caught up when you’re writing. I have a husband and 3 kids, so I have to constantly check myself to make sure I am giving them enough quality time.  Often, I write after everyone goes to bed.  I don’t get enough sleep.

Do you find your work fulfilling?

Yes. Especially the writing.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer/lawyer?

As far as the writing goes, I have always felt like a writer so the answer is YES.

As far as law, I decided I wanted to be a lawyer when I was probably about 11 or 12.  I used to love the television show A Different World.  There was this amazing character named Freddie Brooks who was this poet/granola-eating/hippie with this wild curly hair.  She had a hot boyfriend with locs. I adored her, and I saw my adult self being something like her.  In one of the last seasons, she decided to go to law school.  It was this kind of natural choice for her because she cared so passionately about social justice issues.  She was still very much herself but in her day job, she was about the business of healing her community through the legal system.  I wanted to be JUST like her. I truly believe sometimes goals and dreams don’t feel attainable until you see someone who looks like you achieving them.  That’s why I created this site! Freddie may not have actually been real but watching her each week on A Different World made me feel like if she could do it, I could too.

Freddie

 

What advice would you give a parent of a child/young adult interested in pursuing a job in your field?

For law, I’d say take it one step at a time.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you look at the big picture and not all the small steps it takes to get there.  It is not insurmountable.  I would also say surround them with people who are goal-oriented.  Laziness is contagious! I make it a habit to never be the smartest person in the room. If I am, I work to get out as soon as possible. I want people around me who will elevate me and not drag me down.

For writing, I would encourage you to travel, go to shows, concerts and readings.  It doesn’t have to cost a ton of money.  There are always free things to do! Expose your child to the arts. My best writing has been inspired.  I think it’s important to see different perspectives and meet different types of people.  I think in order for fiction to feel real you have to be able to empathize with different people and perspectives.  Exposure is key! I would also get a library card and/or a B&N membership. Encourage your child to read and be comfortable with silence.  There are so many distractions. Pursuing a career in writing is an exercise in discipline.

Of course for all careers, be encouraging! Your child may want to pursue a career you never even heard of.  Focus on the steps to get there and not all the things that can hold them back.