Remembering Maya: Where’s Your Mentor?

On the morning of May 28, 2014, I had just settled in at my office and powered up my Mac. Each morning, the first item on my to-do list is to check my department’s Twitter account on HootSuite and my personal account on Tweetdeck. So there I was, about two minutes after settling in, when I realized “RIP Maya Angelou” was the morning’s trending topic. My chest sank and I couldn’t find air.

maya-angelou-quotes-2I let out an “Oh My God!” loud enough to alarm my coworker as I stormed out the office, unable to finish my thought: “Maya Angelou is..” Before I made it out the double doors of our reception area my tears were in full view. Outside, I completely broke down. Maya. God, why Maya? I remember wondering how a morning could be so beautiful when the pain I felt was so excruciating.

Maya was my first mentor. Through her words, she wrapped arms around me and taught me life lessons that were otherwise not immediately accessible or palpable. Some time during undergrad, and as a young single mother, I read Singin’ and Swingin’ and Getting Merry Like Christmas and I felt my life changing. With each page, something in me transformed.  I loved Maya because of her realness. Her story was anything but glamorous, like mine was shaping up to be, and that was the story I needed to read. Continue reading

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Dear NOLA

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Gumbo. The end.

As a modified military brat (I like to say I’m from Georgia by-way-of Texas), I’ve always been fascinated by places with strong cultural identities. When I graduated undergrad, I was determined to get to New York, where I stayed in Queens, befriended a local bartender, and lost my breath as I watched a group of young boys break dance on the corner of the street.

Another place I’ve always wanted to visit is New Orleans. I received letters from Tulane as I was applying to colleges in 2005-06, but I was a coward. I was too afraid to venture off to the city while in its early rebuilding phase; I didn’t want t o imagine what that would look like. To be fair, I also bailed out on Texas Southern and Spelman, and opted to stay close to home at CSU. Thankfully, I’ve conquered my spirit of fear. Continue reading