Take A Moment: Feel Your Best, Be Your Best

Lovely Miss Jones, LLC, GLLOW, LLC, and Still Becoming Inc. presents:
Take A Moment

Feel Your Best, Be Your Best

Often times as women we run endlessly. We have many obligations, and we wear many hats. We give in so many different areas. But how often do we stop for a moment to take care of ourselves?
Friday, May 26th we set out to have an evening of educating, networking, and exploring ways to keep ourselves in a healthy space; which in turn will help us to be our best selves. It’s difficult to be effective when we aren’t wholly healthy.
We’ll have a panelist of women in the heath field, covering areas such as: medical health, psychotherapy, mental health, sexual health, and holistic health. We will engage in a panel discussion and Q&A.
Come out and enjoy a night of connecting, performances and amazing discussion! All for the purpose of healthy living and effective giving! 

Panelists:


Dr. Kelita Alston -Jones is currently a Regional Medical Director and Clinical Consultant in Oncology for the largest company in the nation, for which she is the youngest and only African American female to hold the position. 
Founder and CEO of Healing Hands Medical Group, which provides workshops and medical referrals to aide the community in increasing awareness of common diseases and providing access to affordable care. She also owns her own health and wellness business called Get Healthy with Kelita, that provides all natural supplements and alternative ways to keep your physical body in optimal health. Kelita is a motivational speaker and a dynamic preacher of the Gospel. 
She believes in the empowerment of women and is the founder of Daughters of the King Ministries. She currently holds monthly empowerment sessions, mentorship classes and one o one sessions that help women to “take of their masks” and reveal the truth of who they are, while healing the deep wounds that may hold them back. Kelita is the co-host of the Ladies First Radio Show on WBJL Gospel.  

Chanel McCord is the founder and CEO of Oasis Wellness Group. Chanel received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Seton Hall University and a Master of Arts in Professional Counseling from Liberty University where she graduated with distinction. Chanel is licensed as an Associate Counselor (LAC) in the state of New Jersey and is in the application phase of obtaining her Professional Counselor clinical licensure. She holds several certifications including CPR/First Aid, Crisis Prevention Intervention (CPI), Psychological First Aid (PFA) and Posttraumatic Stress Management (PTSM). Having settled several years of counseling experience under her belt, Chanel seeks to restore and assist in the healing process of adults, adolescents, children and families through counseling, psychoeducation, mentoring and wellness initiatives targeting the physical, mental, social and spiritual paradigms of one’s life. Education, empowerment, encouragement, enrichment and hope are aims that Chanel seeks to share with others.


Jasmine Marie Utterback is a passionate and engaging public health professional whose work is focused on building community partnerships to deliver sexual health education and training. She has worked with incarcerated women, college students, youth experiencing homelessness, and adults with developmental disabilities. Her topics of interest include building healthy relationships and safer sex communication. Jasmine’s motto for life is, “Together we are better.” Together we can develop the skills needed to protect our sexual health. 


Shelley Chapman, EdM is a nutrition educator, weight loss motivator and wellness workshop facilitator. Before stepping into those roles she received her Masters in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard University and her Bachelors of Arts from Spelman College. She also spent ten years overweight as a Compulsive Overeater and starved, binged and mistreated her body for years. In her commitment to heal, she learned about healthy eating, how food production affects the body, and the dietary lifestyles that reverse disease and turn on the healing switches in the body. She also addressed her emotional traumas that played a role in her eating disorder.

As a result, she went from a size 12 to a size 2 in one year. She now creates health curricula and travels throughout the country teaching workshops on how to shift from emotional and stress eating to mindful eating and how to integrate healthy behaviors into busy, modern lifestyles. She has worked with a variety of companies and institutions including Food Network, National Institute of Mental Health, Teach for America, New York University and Emory University. She is the author of the Amazon Best Seller Tantric Tastes and she also produces health focused web series and cooking videos for her YouTube channel, ShelleyWellness. You can find her online at BodyFoodFreedom.com and on all social media @ShelleyWellness. 

Crystal Fulwood is an Emotional Health Advocate and a Certified Mental Health First Aid Instructor, teaching the general public about mental health awareness. Crystal is also the founder of f.l.a.w.e.d., which is an organization that connects, equips and supports women on their journey to wellbeing. 

You don’t want to miss this event! May 26th! An evening of education, discussion, and ways to keep ourselves healthy as a whole. Register today! Takeamoment526.eventbrite.com!

 

LMJ Second Annual Scholarship Benefit Recap

On Tuesday, December 27, 2016, we successfully hosted our second annual scholarship benefit! LMJ is a strong believer of sharing ones experience in order to connect and help further the growth of someone else. And this is how the scholarship benefit was created. Going through the process of college, I know firsthand what it’s like to not be able to pay tuition. College is very expensive. Period. Knowing what it felt like, it was my intent to create opportunities to help others in areas that I could’ve used assistance. I wanted to be able to be a blessing financially to a few college students, to help alleviate the financial strain they may experience.

December 19, 2015 was our first. Seeing its effect, it was only right that we continue and make it an annual affair. It’s not easy putting any type of event together, but knowing that this was bigger than us, pushed me to do it anyway. The purpose of the event was to celebrate these college students for their accomplishments. The first step being, making the decision to further their education in order to pursue their dreams. It was intended to be a night of sharing, educating, honoring, educating, and connecting with others. And I must say, it was a success.


The event was hosted by author, poet, and content creator Church Johnson. Which is a product of networking and making connections. Intentional connections.

image

There were two speakers; Asha Boston, Director of The Dinner Table Documentary (a documentary geared towards changing the perception of black women in media. Also offering high school and college workshops centered around self esteem) and Schoquilla Coleman, Founder and CEO of Golden Life Resource Center (an organization that encourages and promotes educational growth, financial stability and positive mentor ship in youth). Both of these ladies have succeeded after going through the college process. They are an inspiration to many, and needed to share their experiences. In order to let the candidates know that they too can make it, and also to show others how they can contribute to the lives of our young people.


There were two incredible performances by amazing artists, ART Music and Lynette Rhett-McNeil. Both blessed us with their amazing gifts.

We honored Ska-Keya Flenory, who tirelessly dedicates her time and service to NYC Public Schools, along with Sheneya Wilson, who recently graduated with her masters degree in accounting and is on her way towards obtaining her phd at the age of 22. Their hard work is inspiration to others.

Raffle prize sponsors; award winning author, Nigeria Lockley, Michelle Dwight Designs, and Elle and Johns body products.

Other sponsors include; Jennifer Johnson, CEO of Campus Essentials (donating care packages to our winners. Innovative Music Inc (silver sponsor). And BCAN2SOC (Brooklyn Community Acition Network To Save Our Community) our double platinum sponsor!

Excellent food provided by SWB Catering.
Lastly, we acknowledge our 2016 LMJ Scholarship recipients! First place, Sherqwanna Laws. Second place, Niesha Georgeon. Third place, Candace Rose. Fourth place, Naomi Georgeon. We are extremely proud of these young ladies. And because of your help, we are collectively able to make an impact in their lives. They all have their own stories, their own struggles; but we were able to make a positive impact. We thank you all for your support.

image

To view photos from LMJ’s Second Annual Scholarship Benefit (captured by PhotosByCeeJay) click here.

The Ultimate Women’s Empowerment Event – The Other Festival 

Now is most definitely the time of year for festivals. The festivals that you would usually hear of only consist of musical artists and bands. However, there’s a festival this weekend (Saturday, June 11th) in TriBeCa NYC that is like no other! Hence the name, The Other Festival. 

The Other Festival is all about “connecting, building, and supporting  entrepreneurial spirits in the face of an ever changing world.We are the best, the strongest, the boldest of our generation. We are a squad of renegade businesswomen in the form of artists, musicians, chefs, photographers, entrepreneurs, activists, inventors, storytellers, designers, and we are here to make things happen.” – The Other Festival 

This event is brought to you by Women Inspiration and Enterprise (WIE), which is a social enterprise that works to provide emerging women leaders with the tools to succeed in their careers. WIE is founded by Dee Paku-Spalding, who is a social entrepreneur born in the UK and raised in London. A former Hollywood studio exec, Paku has now begun a career in brand marketing and promotions. 

The Other Festival showcases the makers and creators of this generation, the women who are redefining how to do business, setting their own rules, putting new systems in place, pushing their own agendas. Inventors, storytellers, founders, artists who can’t be boxed in.

This festival will showcase a group of elite women; their background and their career work. Through this, many females will have the opportunity to glean from their journey. It’s about embracing the other, but also embracing you. Embracing who you are, what you offer, and your journey towards success. There will be workshops, discussions, along with a concert. A full day of sharing and gleaning. 
Speakers include: 

  • Naomi Campbell (Model)
  • Rosario Dawson (Actress, Activist, Entreprenuer)
  • Reshma Saujani (Founder, Girls Who Code)
  • Lindsey Stirling (Musician, Vlogger)
  • Melissa Ben Ishay (Founder, Baked by Melissa)
  • Beverly Bond (Founder, Black Girls Rock) 

And many more!

Musical Guests Include:

  • Justine Skye 
  • Brooke Candy 
  • Vashtie Kala
  • Grace Weber

And more!

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to sulk in all that you can from these very powerful women in business. Women who have owned who they are and will be able to share and showcase their journey, their sound, and their careers. This is a festival you want to be sure to attend! 

LovelyMissJones is all about sharing ones experience to benefit the lives of someone else, so you know we will be on the scene! And we want to see you there! Purchase your tickets today by visiting theotherfestival.eventbrite.com. 
  

  

The Crippling Effects Of Fear

These past few weeks, I’ve had incredible writers block. It was a struggle to produce simple articles. Articles that would normally take me an hour or less. It was difficult to think of topics, and difficult to complete anything. I thought it was simply writers block, but I recently noticed that it has a lot to do with fear. 

I can be honest and say, I’m not satisfied with my life. I feel like there’s so much more, and I haven’t been able to tap into it. My career, writing, business, family, relationships, church; all of the things that are important to me, are not in the place that I’d hope it would be in. Although, all things happen within the right timeframe, one still has a responsibility to do something in order to make things happen. There has to be some type of action or movement in order for there to be success. 

I’ve been able to admit my fears in the past, along with overcoming stories. However, I now realize, the fear that I’m currently facing is a little different. It’s on a different level. I realized that I’ve subconsciously been afraid to go beyond what I’ve been currently doing. Not satisfied with it, but afraid of more (in a sense). I sense there’s more, but there’s still fear of failure.
Afraid that I don’t have enough money, afraid of the opinions, afraid that maybe my thoughts are a little too big. Maybe it’s not realistic. Afraid that it’ll all come crashing down. But in all actuality, what do I really have to lose. This is the perfect time in my life to take a risk. Although things may have fallen apart in the past, what do I really have to lose now? 

After a conversation with a friend, I really had to sit and ask myself that question. If I’m not in the place that I know I should be in, what is there for me to lose. I can’t be so concerned with why I wouldn’t be able to get to where I should be, more than the possibility of never getting there. My fear literally had me in a dark place. Writers block for a writer who loves what they do, is a place you don’t want to visit. You’re literally stuck. And it’s the same for any passion or dream. Fear literally cripples you. It keeps you in a place where you’re not sure which way to turn. I absolutely love what I do, but I became stuck because there’s so many ways that I want to expand from this blog. I struggle with how I can reach more people, how I can fully monetize from it, and how I can ultimately build my business and complete my book. And that’s where all of the fears I mentioned comes into place. But over the course of the past few days (The ending of last week) when I began writing this post, I realized that I needed to pull myself from that place. Fear comes from ourselves, our own thoughts. Therefore, making the choice to shift, comes from within. We can’t allow our fears to overpower the possibility of us reaching the level of success we were destined to reach. 

I want to end this post with a story that I heard Sunday morning during the sermon. The preacher told a story about a woman who was given a gift to write. God gave her the idea for the book, but her focus was on other things (being busy, why she couldn’t do it at the moment, time, money, etc) rather than what she knew God had placed inside of her. She never did it, and someone else wrote the exact same book she had been given. She later decided to write the book, but it didn’t have the same effect that it could’ve had had she written the book when God called her to do so. She missed her moment. I don’t want to miss the moment focusing on everything besides the goal. And I don’t want you to miss your moment focusing on everything besides the goal. We have to take the risk and jump head first into fulfilling our dreams. Others are depending on it. If we don’t do it, someone else will. Don’t miss your moment. Don’t remain stuck. Don’t allow your fear to cripple you. If you’ve been given a gift, it’s usually bigger than you could’ve imagined. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, that’s how God works. If He’s given it to you, He’ll provide the resources that’ll help make it happen. But you have to trust Him and the gifts and abilities that He has placed inside of you! Be encouraged, don’t stop putting in work. Keep your eyes on the goal! 

  

Vow to Empower: Interview with Author Shanikqa Canty

Shanikqa Canty is the author of a book entitled, Their Vow. She has now committed her life to empower others. Shanikqa intends to empower others through her writing and public speaking. It is always a pleasure to meet people who are motivated and determined to reach others through their gifts. And this is no different. Shanikqa has been a supporter of Lovely Miss Jones for quite some time, and shares similar goals of empowering others through writing and through experience. Below you’ll get to know a little more about this blossoming author, along with what you can expect in the near future. 

Miss Jones: Tell us a little about yourself?

Shanikqa Canty: My name is Shanikqa N.Canty, I am 24 years old and I currently reside in Brooklyn, New York (In the Crown Heights Section). I am a Best Selling Author, Writer and a Promoter Of Empowerment. I have a passion for empowering and connecting authentically with those I come in contact with. 

MJ: Was becoming an author something that you’ve always desired to be, or was it something that just happened?

SC: Becoming an author was something that honestly just happened (LOL). Like seriously, I didn’t even expect this to happen. And not just an Author, a Best Selling Author. God is just amazing! 

MJ: How long have you been writing?

SC: I used to write when I was younger, in the 3rd and 4th grade, and I stopped; but in the Fall of 2014 the creativity of writing came back to me.

MJ: What experiences led to where you currently are today?

SC: Letting my past struggles empower me to create a life that I desire. I truly believe that each and everyone of us holds the power to create what we want. I let my testimony become my empowerment.

MJ: What were some of your biggest struggles during this journey?

SC: Some of my biggest struggles during this journey was keeping myself motivated and not letting fear and rule overtake me. But I’m grateful that I am on this journey of being more grounded in my Faith, that helps me overcome.

MJ: What were some of your biggest highlights or positive movements during this journey?

SC: My biggest highlights would have to be, connecting with some awesome and amazing Kingdom minded Men and Women. Just being able to fellowship and have a real support system. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. 

MJ: Who are some of your biggest influences, and why?

SC: Some of my biggest influences are: of course my mother because she supports me no matter what I pursue in life and just loves me as I am. My Spiritual Father Apostle Steven Newton, My Spiritual Mother Pastor Christian Newton, My Kingdom Sisters and Brothers, also Dr Myles Munroe & Steven Furtick (through their videos and books). Each and everyone of these individuals inspire me to be a GREATER woman that GOD has called me to be. 

MJ: What was the process while writing this book? 

SC: Writing “Their Vow” was fun and a little scary because I thought “Who wants to read a fiction book promoting celibacy”? But the feedback has been awesome.

MJ: How were you able to overcome those things that came up against you?

SC: Just remaining focused and keeping my eye on the prize. 

MJ: What/who kept you motivated? 

SC: Myself, and allowing the Holy Spirit to just move right through me. 

MJ: How long have you been working on this project?

SC: Honestly I finished the book in 2 days, by typing it on my iPhone while at work. The words just flew right through me. 

MJ: Tell us a little about your book?

SC: It’s the story of two individuals who decide that it’s better to keep Their Vow and not let the temptations of the world rule them anymore. 

MJ: What else are you currently working on?

SC: At the moment just focusing on getting myself out there more, and my line of Tele-classes I’m about to launch. 

MJ: What are a few of your biggest accomplishments?

SC: Just being able to share my gifts with the world. 

MJ: What can we look forward to in the future?

SC: Live in person “Empowerment Sessions”, more books, videos and an empowerment product line. 

MJ: What encouraging words would you like to leave with us?

SC: Your Testimony Is Your Empowerment, Because You’re Empowered By Your Struggles. 

Wise words from a wise woman. Not only is Shanikqa a bestselling author (her book can be purchased on Amazon.com), but she is also launching ‘A Movement Of Empowerment’ that will be held every second and fourth Wednesday via conference call. Check out the flyer below. Also, stay up to date by following all of Shanikqa Canty’s social media networks: Facebook.com/BeEmpoweredWithShanikqac and Instagram/Periscope @iamshanikqac. 
 

 
   
   

Editor’s Note: Lovely Miss Jones Scholarship 

I need your help! With just 2 months away from the one year Anniversary, it is my hopes to help someone financially with college. After becoming a tad bit discouraged with the lack of support, I realized I have to keep pushing. It’s not about me, but the benefit of someone else. With that being said, please find it in your heart to help me as my passion is to help create change in the lives of others. Especially this next generation. We can help make a difference and help them reach their goals. Visit gofundme.com/LMJSCHOLARSHIP to make a donation! Thank you in advance. We can make this happen! Donate and share!

-xo Miss Jones 😘

Get Your Finances In Order: Interview With The Budgetnista

“Women get together and we discuss men, children, and our lives over a glass of wine. But how often do we talk openly about finances? We say, ‘The Lord will make a way,’ and that’s true. But I’d like to empower myself.” Whether you’re in your twenties, thirties, forties or fifties and beyond, it’s not too late to get started. This quote is from an article in the February’s issue of ESSENCE Magazine. 
So often we get together with our friends and loved ones to talk about life and all of our issues. But how often do we discuss financial struggle, along with the importance of saving or budgeting? It wasn’t until my last year of college, when I was about to graduate, I realized the importance of saving and how I should’ve done that during my journey. 
After finding out about the Live Richer Challenge (a free, online financial challenge created by The Budgetnista to help women achieve 7-specific financial goals in 36 days. Currently over 15,000+ women in all 50 States and 52 countries, have signed-up and participated in the LRC.) and hearing her on the panel at a financial education event; I had the pleasure of interviewing financial educator, Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche. The Budgetnista has been featured in The New York Times, US News and World Report, the TODAY show, PBS, Fox Business, MSNBC, CBS MoneyWatch, TIME, ESSENCE Magazine, and FORBES. She regularly blogs about personal finance for The Huffington Post. She has also been has been a featured speaker at American Express, Princeton University, Wyndham Worldwide, Columbia University, Circle of Sisters, MegaFest, The United Way, Prudential Financial Inc. and many more.
Below you will find a few highlights from the interview where you’ll get to know a little more about Tiffany, as well as get some useful tips on how to get your finances in order. 
Miss Jones: How did you decide to start this journey? (Entrepreneurship)

The Budgetnista: Life decided for me. I was a school teacher for ten years. The school I was working for lost funding and everyone lost their jobs. I was relieved because I knew it was time to move on, but I was scared as well. You can do all of the right things and still be without a job.  

Miss Jones: For those who may not know, tell us a little about your business.

The Budgetnista: I have a financial education firm, which helps people with basic finances. My audience is predominantly women. I work with sets/groups of people and companies. Because I was an educator, I am able to teach in these settings. I’ve worked with companies like Prudential, United Way, and more. 

Miss Jones: What life experiences growing up contributed to the career path you have now?

The Budgetnista: I grew up in a household with my father, who was a financial banker. My father always talked to my sister and I about finances. When I got my first job, I had to talk with him about my paycheck. So I was able to master that at home. The rest was natural progression. I taught preschool, which played a part. The younger the age, the better to teach. College age students have knowledge, while preschoolers have no knowledge at all. You have to teach them everything, and that’s the best place to start. If you can teach preschool effectively, you can teach anyone. 

Miss Jones: did you ever think you’d write a book?

The Budgetnista: Yes, I always though I would but I never knew what it would be about. When I was teaching, the parents would come in around nap time and I would help them with their finances. As I was helping them, I would write it down. And eventually u wrote a book about it.

Miss Jones: Did you ever think the LiveRicher Challenge would be as big as it is now? 

The Budgetnista: Yes and no. I thought it was a great idea, and would be great to do. The I thought to myself, ‘it’s too much, no one’s going to do this.’ It was the same with my book. It humbled me. What the challenge is doing now, is something I dreamed of. 

Miss Jones: What are some of the goals you’ve had?

The Budgetnista: I ultimately wanted to have a business and fully support myself. I wanted to make a certain amount of money a month. I wanted by book to be a number one seller. I also wanted to be featured in certain publications. And I was able to accomplish all of these. There are still some goals I have yet to reach. I would like to speak at ESSENCE Festival, as well as be a branch certified one day. 

Miss Jones: How were you able to accomplish these goals?

The Budgetnista: Putting one foot in front of the other, without overthinking. I’ve learned to do what you know, and the rest will come after. When you do what you know, the more you learn. Two, always keep positive people around you. I call those people in my life, the dream catchers. Keep people around you who have their own business. You’ll be able to learn from them. Also, keep honest people around you, that’ll let you know when you’re doing too much. Remember why you started, and don’t be afraid to look for assistance when you need it. Learn when to ask for help. It can cost you time, money, and happiness when you try to do everything yourself. 

Miss Jones: Many people growing up, as myself, were never really taught to save, and are now struggling with the transition and mind shift. What are some tips to get back on track?

The Budgetnista: 1. Discipline. Decide how much from your check to save. It’ll get you to practice. Ask your job to take out $10 out of $100, and send it to another account through direct deposit. 2. Start with saving goals that are fun. For example, specifically saving for a vacation, a car, or an apartment. You can either go to a concert, or live home with your parents forever. Find what motivates you, even when you want to spend. 3. Open up an online savings account, which allows you to magnify your money online. Banks such as Capitol one 360 and Ally banks offer great online accounts. And it is only a savings account. Separate accounts for specific goals. Whether it be a travel or a car account. These online accounts take 2-5 business days (unlike a regular bank) to transfer money. So it forces you to save. 

Miss Jones: What are some of the most important steps to becoming financially stable?

The Budgetnista: First, imagine you’re in a ditch. Just stop digging. Stop using your cards. Stop eating out. Find the issue, and take a step back. Bring things back in order one at a time. Be sure to create a budget, it’ll help you see where your money is going. Try the Live richer challenge. Miss Jones: How can one save and still enjoy your life? Looking well, vacationing, but still have funds saved?

The Budgetnista: Budget. Including travel, clothes, etc. Look at what you want. Take out bills first, and put 10% into your retirement account. With the first check of the month. From 90% figure out how much the things you need are, how much will you save, and how much will you do for fun stuff. Retirement should always be first, then emergency savings, bills, then fun. When there’s no money left, you’ve made poor choices. If you want fun, lower your bills. 

Miss Jones: How do you build your credit score?

The Budgetnista: Your credit score is broken up into five different components 1. Inquiry. Which is when someone else looks at your social security number, if you were applying for a credit card etc. You should save it for a car or student loans instead of applying for multiple credit cards you don’t need. Even if you don’t qualify for the card, points are still taken off of your credit score. And that’s 10% of your credit score.  

2. 10% of your credit score is debt. 

3. Length of credit history. And that’s 15%. Keep your oldest credit card open. If you’re in college or fresh out of college, let your parents put you on as an authorized user. Where they are the primary user and also pay on time. 

4. Utilization. Which is how much are you using. This is the thing that brings most of it down. Using too much of what you’re given. Keep your spending under 30%.

5. Payment history. Which 35%. Keep your payments down. Always pay what they ask when they ask. Charge a card with something small regularly and pay it off in full every month. 

Miss Jones: What are some of the best budget plans that you’d give others? Is the Mint App a good budgeting tool?

The Budgetnista: From what I’ve heard about Mint, its pretty good. However, my book The One Week Budget, I give a great way to budget. Set it up and automate it. Separate checking account for bills. Second account not attached, so that all of your bills are taken from one specific account. One should typically have at least three separate bank accounts. A savings account, an emergency account, an online savings account, and/or a regular checking account. 

Miss Jones: Is there any advice you’d like to leave with us?

The Budgetnista: It’s not as hard as you think, it’s just about practice. With time it gets easier and easier. But only if you get started. 

Tiffany, The Budgetnista, was a pleasure to talk to. She is going around the world sharing financial tools that can ultimately change someone’s life. She offers financial education to companies, small groups, churches, and universities. You can visit her website to invite her and find out her pricing, thebudgetnista.com. Also purchase her books The One Week Challenge and Live Richer Challenge. Lastly, follow her on Instagram and Twitter @thebudgetnista and continue to find out ways to get your finances in order!

Voyages Prep High School Women’s Day

Thursday, March 12th, I had the pleasure of attending Voyages Prep HS’s women’s day luncheon. I was invited by Leah Williams, who I met at a women’s empowerment brunch the Saturday before. 

Voyages Prep HS is a transfer HS in Elmhurst, Queens. The population is over-aged and under-credited students who failed at the traditional high school setting.  In an effort to lift the spirit of their girls, some of who are single mothers and live in low-income communities, they are had their first ever Women’s Day to inspire the girls and show them that through hard work and determination they can succeed at being strong and beautiful contributors to today’s global society. 

Upon arriving to the school and into the space set for the event, I was greeted by wonderful ladies and students as they continued to complete the set up for the day. This was a day not only to empower the ladies, but to make them feel good. There were beautiful tables set up for the girls. 

  

  

To start the day off, Leah, who is on the advisory board of the young women’s group did her greetings and introductions. There were of course the girls who currently attend the school, along with returning students (one who graduated as the valedictorian and recently received her associates degree, and on her way to her bachelors.), teachers, other advisors, school safety, and the guest speaker Tiana Von Johnson. Once the ladies came in, signed in, received a lovely bag, and sat attentively, it was time to eat and mingle before moving further.

After the food was served and the ladies had a chance to talk to one another, Leah returned to introduce the speaker of the day. 

Tiana Von Johnson started by sharing her story with the girls. She shared her successes with them. She grew up in a broken home in the Bronx. However, she had a different mindset. She never wanted to follow the crowd, rather go down her own path. She learned how to be her own boss from a very young age. She went to work with her father every Saturday while most of the other kids were outside playing. She learned how to save the $10 she made every week, and it taught her valuable lessons. And the same followed her for the rest of her life. And because of this, she was determined to go to school. 

She received her Bachelors degree by the age of 20, Masters by the age of 21; and by the age of 25, she was making $70,000 a year. She was grateful for her accomplishments, but she wasn’t fulfilled. She wasn’t passionate about the work she did. 

Tiana then went on to ask the girls what they were passionate about. Allowing them to speak on their goals and what they eventually wanted. She then went on with her story, letting the girls know that she became a millionaire by the age of 30. She wanted to go back to school to receive her PHD, but was told she was too young. So she continued to work and reapplied at the age of 37, and she was accepted. She wanted to show the girls how she continued to work and make things happen for herself.   

  

When she reached $100,000 a year in her career, she decided to quit her job. She wasn’t fulfilled. She enjoyed the money, but wanted to do what she was passionate about. She did all of this while being a single mother of 2. She then became a producer she was her own boss. And because she was her own boss, she had to separate herself. To focus, sometimes you will have to separate yourself. And this is something she wanted to get across to the girls. It’s important to know when to separate yourself in order to reach your goals. She’s been through some things, as many of the girls have, but she was determined to reach a certain level of success. 

After she spoke for a while, she showed a video which displayed her many accomplishments and success. She was the first young African American female broker on Wall Street. But she was focused and determined. She’s doing it big now because she was determined enough to quit her job and do what she loved. 

Tiana then made it a little more interactive for the girls. She asked them to share what they aspire to do. Which allowed them to declare some of their goals and aspirations, and put it into the atmosphere. They were also asked if they had a game plan. Which led to one of the worksheets set out for them. It was called Envisioning the Life You Want. Which helped the girls to see exactly where they wanted to be in life. Not just thinking about it, but actually visualizing it. 

  

The next activity was where Tiana asked everyone to close their eyes and think about the person they loved. After some time, she allowed the girls to share. Many of them mentioned their mother or their children. But none of them mentioned themselves. Which says a lot. She wanted them to get to a place where they loved themselves enough to pursue their dreams. 

Then they used the following sheet to draw or write out the things they wanted into the box created for them. Many of the girls drew money, houses, and he businesses they hoped to open one day. 

  

Tiana then opened the floor for questions, where she was able to further encourage the girls. Below are a few of her answers:

  • I was able to reach my goals being a single mother because of my work ethic. I was driven. 
  • Time management was big for me. I encourage you all to invest in a journal. Write your goals for the week, month, and year. This is how you stay organized. 
  • People will try to take advantage of you when you’re in a situation like this. When you grow and become a brand, you have to protect your assists. 
  • After you realize your passion, you may have to reach out to others to push you along the way. I reached out to my pastor and educators. 
  • I was able to keep pushing when I saw my vision but faced opposition because I was reminded of my past. Every time I found myself in a position where I wanted to quit, I remembered the place I didn’t want to return to. 

Below are a few nuggets she was able to leave with the girls:

  • Push when no one believes in you. 
  • From this point on think about whether it contaminate me or contribute to my growth. 
  • Shift your mindset for what’s good for you. 
  • Don’t demand respect, command respect. You want your presence felt. Marking your territory. Focusing on what you have to do for you. 
  • Invest in yourself. 
  • You have to have the will to win. 
  • Prioritize relationships.

It was amazing to be able to see these young girls have an opportunity to experience a day of encouragement and empowerment at a young age. These are the types of events I attend as an adult, so it’s great to start early. They were given tools that will stick with them for the rest of their lives. Tools that will help them pursue their dreams. And to see the excitement was great. I over heard a conversation where a young girl was recording and when asked, she said “yes, I’m recording. I want to be a millionaire!” This event will be life changing for them. Special thanks to Leah Ross-Williams for he invite. 

 

 (Leah Ross-Williams and Miss Jones)

 

 (Miss Jones & Tiana Von Johnson)