Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bessie Akuba

Name: Bessie Akuba

Age: 31

College: Georgia State University

Major: Political Science with a minor in Sociology

Grad Year: 2004

Awards: ESSENCE, EBONY, AFROELLE Magazine, Atlanta Power 30 Under 30; Stiletto Women 2012 Brand of The Year, Applause Africa Magazine 40 Under 40


About Bessie: 
A former beauty queen turned photographer and social artist, Bessie Akuba Winn-Afeku is on a purpose driven mission change the world through photography, new media, and the arts. This former Miss Black Georgia USA has truly breathed life into the clich├ęd beauty pageant phrase, “Make the World a Better Place”.

A native of Ghana West Africa, Bessie Akuba moved to Georgia at the age of seven. After several years of spending time in front of the camera, and on stage as an actor and through pageantry; Bessie decided to create art and inspire from behind the camera lens and specializes in lifestyle and portraiture photography.

When she is not shooting images of beautiful people or documenting stories with her camera she can be found blogging for the Huffington Post or giving back through her non profit The She is Me Program™. TSIMP is a 501c3 non-profit organization that empowers young women through the arts, positive role models, and by giving them the power and resources to create their own media. Bessie Akuba also launched I Am The Change in 2011 which is a social good photography campaign, brand, and soon to be book that captures the images of everyday people visually declaring their purpose in life. My biggest obstacle have been getting over other peoples opinions about my chosen path. I believe once we know that the opinions of others have nothing to do with us..we then become limitless.

What is your life's mission?

My life's mission is to show people the good and the beauty in everything.

What does being a black woman mean to you?


Being a black women mean defining ourselves for ourselves and not leaving it up to the world to define us.

"
I believe once we know that the opinions of others have nothing to do with us..we then become limitless"

Monday, February 25, 2013

Jarim Person-Lynn

Name: Jarim Person-Lynn

Age: 32

College: California State University Northridge

Major: Communications



About Jarim:
I’m an author, business owner, professional investor & wealth coach. I wasn’t always all of these things though. As a matter of fact for as long as I remember, the only thing I always have been out of those things was an entrepreneur. And while that in itself should be viewed as its own positive accomplishment, the truth is that that in itself nearly killed me. 

This is because even though being an entrepreneur allows you to make ridiculous amounts of money – more money than most people around you in employed positions at least – I still had never been taught what exactly to do with that money after I had worked so hard to make it.

My parents both worked, had side businesses, were involved heavily in the community and for the most part were always busy doing something. But they also had and needed to raise 5 kids. And while raising these 5 kids they would do so by utilizing financial habits not created from some financial guru in their lives who had all the answers but from a long standing practice handed down generation to generation within the black community. They would indeed go on to raise us using the only method they knew - by living one check at a time.

Ahh so if this is simply “how it is” in the black community, then we should have been fine right? I mean if everyone around you is broke then there’s no one to be jealous of?

Not in L.A. my friend.

And this was the mentality I kept going all the way until college – where I would kick the so-called ballin into even higher gear. I had started DJ’ing and getting into the club scene while going to class in the day. As my popularity and could only see myself driving true luxury- brand new luxury- and a convertible at that. Only problem is with all the money I was making from DJ’ing I couldn’t afford all of the stuff I was trying to do – pay rent, buy expensive furniture, pay for school expenses and have this car. So I decided to get close to a $600 car note – and at the same time put the down payment on one of my credit cards I had just received.

Needless to say around 2003 I had realized I was in way over my head and the whole house of cards was falling down. No not on my dj career, not on my ability to pull chicks – but on what was going on behind the scenes. I was flat broke and now dealing with collection accounts. But I had that ill convertible though.

A few car upgrades later and a move back to my parents apartment – I was now car rich and living in a bunk bed. I did get a pretty good job based around what I majored in at school  (advertising) though I was getting a lot of flack from the girls I would date because I lived at my parents’ house. Only thing to do next was put myself into position where I could buy a house. 

After I purchased the 3bedroom 3 bathroom condo with 4 years worth of saving and slaving, it only took a few months (till august actually) to have some cold water splashed on my face. There was something called a housing bubble about to burst and sub prime borrowers were supposed to have been the cause. I was livid. But not as livid as I was about to be.

And then came 2008.

Since the market crashed, all of my money was tied up in stocks that were now 70% lower than the last point I had bought them. The only thing that saved me was my $10k emergency fund I didn’t want to access unless I had to repair or do something to the house. One of the dumbest and smartest moves I made was in taking that money and buying a bunch of solar energy stocks near the time the market had bottomed. But as the market started to rebound, I was now looking at investments that not only returned to where I had purchased them but far beyond that as my solar energy holdings had exploded up ten-fold. I now had more in investments than I had put into and lost with the down payment on the the condo. I then used some of it to pay those cards completely off.

I started to blog about my new mentality on Facebook through a series of notes called “War on Credit”. We would also talk about loving who you are and eating healthy as well since I was starting to see a lot of the same ignorance to bettering ourselves in other aspects of our community. Especially since it all tied into building wealth at the end of the day anyways.

I left that condo with an iPad, an iPhone, a few items of clothing and an $8,000, 2007 Nissan Sentra. The plan would be to use the $3,300 I was now saving from not paying housing expenses to continue to invest. By doing so at the right I had been doing for the past few years, by the time I would have been done paying three times for my mortgage over 30 years, I would instead have close to $8 million in the bank.

I would also travel and continue to work with minorities from all over and help them end the cycle of poverty within our communities. The only thing that mattered now was the mission.

This time its war.

What is your life's mission?

I believe part of the reason I've been put here is to organize a revolution. That revolution's ultimate goal will be to eliminate the cycle of poverty within minority communities all over.

What does being a black man mean to you?

That I have a whole lotta work to do.


"I believe part of the reason I've been put here is to organize a revolution. That revolution's ultimate goal will be to eliminate the cycle of poverty within minority communities all over."



Contact Jarim:
Website
Blog
Twitter
Facebook
Email

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Marguerite Matthews


Name: Marguerite Matthews


Age: 29


College: Spelman College


Major: Biochemistry


Grad Year: 2005


Doctorate Degree: PhD in Neuroscience


Grad Year: 2012


Awards: Phi Beta Kappa, Neuroscience Scholars Program, Society for Neuroscience, AAAS Science Program for Excellence in Science, UNCF-Merck Undergraduate Fellowship

About Magurite: I was born and raised in San Diego, CA. I moved to Atlanta to attend a historically black college because I wanted my college experience to full of my culture and learning what it means to be an American Black woman in the 21st century. After finishing my degree in biochemistry, I moved to Pittsburgh to pursue my PhD and to study how the brain develops throughout adolescence. In Pittsburgh I found my calling to fuse my love of science with my love of teaching and mentoring. I was heavily involved in outreach work and became advocate for science research and education. I recently relocated to Portland, OR, after completing my PhD, to accept a research position in a Neuroimaging laboratory that studies ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder and to help develop the lab's outreach program (YES! Youth Engaged in Science Outreach Initiative) for underrepresented minority children throughout the Portland area. I love my job and the work I am able to do. It is rewarding and fulfilling.

There are very few Black women in science to look up to as role models or mentors. There are few people of color, in general, in the sciences. It's hard to aspire to be something that you can't visualize yourself being. I never imagined that I would have a PhD studying neurodevelopmental disorders (like ADHD) at a research institution because I never thought a girl like me had this kind of career. It's hard to find people that relate to your background and experiences. I've often felt alone and isolated. Now that I've made it to where I am, it's extremely important to me to be an example and role model to other kids interested in science. I want to provide them with the opportunities to pursue their interests and skills, and show them that they can be something other than what they see every day. 

YES! Youth Engaged in Science Initiative is a multi-faceted program started by the Fair Neuroimaging Laboratory at the Oregon Health & Science University aimed at exposing underrepresented students to science, scientific research and related careers. YES! is designed to get kids excited about science through education, mentorship, and hands-on experience. The program also educates families about mental health and the importance of community participation in biomedical research, with the hopes of increasing enrollment of underrepresented populations in clinical studies.

Through various educational outreach programs, we aim to end health disparities in underserved minority communities. Our approach to addressing these issues is to offer enriching science educational programs to middle- and high-school students (and their families) of underrepresented populations. We believe that these programs will bridge the gaps in educational and health equity between OHSU and the Portland, OR community at large.

What is your life's mission?

My life's mission is to change the world for the better by positively motivating and impacting our youth. Investing in our children's futures is important and necessary.

What does being a black woman mean to you?

As a Black woman today, I am the legacy of those that came before me. My ancestors had a troubled but rich past and it is important to me continue to strive for progress and lift as I climb. 


"Now that I've made it to where I am, it's extremely important to me to be an example and role model to other kids interested in science. I want to provide them with the opportunities to pursue their interests and skills, and show them that they can be something other than what they see every day."

Contact Marguerite:
Website
Twitter
YES! Twitter
YES! Facebook

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Torry Labon


Name: Torry Labon

Age: 26

College: California State University Dominguez Hills

Major: Business Administration: Finance concentration

Grad Year: 2010

Master's Degree: Accounting

Grad Year: 2013 (December)



About Torry: My mother was addicted to crack from the time of my birth until I was about 16 years old, maybe even longer. I've never met nor have I ever known who my biological father was and I was raised by my grandmother. Though battling a drug addiction, my mother still managed to be around throughout my childhood. Dealing with my own family issues and living in South Central Los Angeles, I sought to find a way to progress and not be trapped by the ills of my surroundings. At an early age I discovered the importance of money management, which would later prove to be what I was most passionate about.

After graduating from Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles I chose to stay local to pursue higher education. I chose Cal State University Dominguez Hills because of its close proximity to my home. Just as I enrolled in the fall of 2003 I was hospitalized which forced me to withdraw from classes my Freshman year. I picked back up on my studies in the fall of 2004, at which point I was a math major. In 2006 I became interested in Real Estate so I took 2 years off of school to pursue a career in real estate. After the collapse of the housing market I went back to school in 2008 to pursue a degree that was more fitting to my interest, which was Finance. In 2010 I completed the requirements for my bachelors degree in Finance.


While studying for my degree in Finance I found that I had become as passionate about people as I had been all my life about numbers. With that said I began to find different ways to give to those who were in need. In 2011 myself and one of my good friends, Jarred Wilkins, began feeding the homeless at downtown Los Angeles’ Skid Row. During the year we had four events there called “Help Us Serve Us” where we were able to feed nearly 1,000 people.

Growing up and being passionate about sports and finding out the importance of higher education, I started a company on December 21st 2011 called The Athletic Corner. At The Athletic Corner we specialize in custom Letterman Jackets, Varsity Sweaters, Chenille Patches, and Fitness apparel. Every sale that is made by The Athletic Corner a portion of the proceeds are given to The Athletic Corner Scholarship Fund. The purpose of the TAC Scholarship Fund is to provide financial assistance to graduating High School seniors who are both needing and deserving. This past December we hosted a #31DaysOfFitness Challenge in which we challenged our followers on twitter to stay fit and help us raise money for scholarships. Far too often we hear of kids not pursuing higher education because they can’t afford it. With these two companies I plan on changing that one, scholarship at a time!

What is your life's mission?

My life's mission is to bring financial literacy to those in the inner city who don't have access to and/or know about how to manage their finances. Philanthropy is also one of my goals in life. I want to make more money to be able to give more money!

What does being a black man mean to you?

The way that I feel about being black is similar to how many felt during the late 50's & 60's. In those times Black people forged bonds with one another on more than just the family level, primarily due to the fact that oppression was so overt. During those times we all shared at least one thing in common, whether you were poverty stricken or from the middle class, being oppressed. Over time as conditions became better the sense of community and the need to care for one another turned into the crabs in a bucket mentality. So being a black man means being a man of strength, not in stature but will! Being a family man and most importantly being a community leader!


"Dealing with my own family issues and living in South Central Los Angeles, I sought to find a way to progress and not be trapped by the ills of my surroundings"

Friday, February 15, 2013

Ashley Causey


Name: Ashley Causey

Age: 26

College: Wilberforce University of Ohio

Major: Business Management/Marketing

Grad Year: 2008

Masters: Media Communications

Grad Year: 2010





About Ashley: I am a servant-leader who desires to leave a legacy of being civically engaged, culturally connected and spiritually led. Dedicated to my life's mission, I aspire to teach and instill a sense of purpose in everyone I come in contact with. I have been given many platforms throughout classrooms, communities, air-waves, programs and initiatives across the country, which has allowed me to bring a guiding light on pressing social issues.

Growing up I had one passion and that was people. No matter what activity I’ve been involved in or what job I had, one thing that motivated me the most was my compassion to help others. Through that, I’ve been able to collaborate, volunteer and work with many non-profit organizations in the Bay Area, including but not limited to, BUILD, Public Allies; Silicon Valley, the Princess Project, Asian American Festival, Gardner Community Center, Social Justice for Teachers Inc. I’ve also facilitated numerous workshops with youth including my most popular titled "Self Justice is Social Justice" and "Media Impact: The Influence on Urban Youth". Any aspect of personal development through education, and religion has been the driving force in all that I choose to embark upon.'

Despite all of my various appointments I understand “I am” because so many people who have gone before me “were.” I am a beneficiary of a family and community that has wrapped their arms around me, demanded greatness and physically, mentally and spiritually supported all my pursuits. I am currently traveling and working abroad in Europe. Completing my first book "Dreams Of Joy: A Journey to Find Power, Love, and Sound Mind" set for distribution in 2013.

My business, Ashley Joy Speaks (ashleyjoyspeaks.com), offers professional and personal development for those men, women, and youth who desire to go higher. I offer one-on-one coaching, seminars and workshops, live presentations, syndicated content (print, online, tv), etc. I believe that greatness resides in all of us and I want to be apart of the process of helping you discover that greatness.

What is your life's mission?

My mission in life has always been to be a builder of confidence not a destroyer of spirits. I love celebrating the life of each individual I come in contact with. It's vital to me to nurture others gifts, while encouraging them live up to their full potential. My heart is with the people, I don't approach any work with the mindset of doing anyone a favor. I have a life-long commitment to service, and I fight for the weak and understand the hurt. I am a woman of conviction and not conformity. Through my faith I am commanded to live differently according to a higher loyalty, I am for the people and not myself.

What does being a black woman mean to you?

Strength, endurance, resiliency, tenacity, faith are a few words that comes to mind when I think of my position as a black woman. I am a descendant of Queens who freed themselves from the oppression of slavery, who fought for my right and position to vote, who liberated themselves in accepting the complexities of their beauty, all while raising, supporting and loving their families and others. Since I was in my Mothers womb the journey that was set before me as a black woman is that of a standard of excellence. It also enables me to be a greater spiritual being whose able to enlighten the masses about the divine power of God and his artistry, who has created so many distinct differences in all human kind. In a world today were media influence has portrayed Black Women in a negative light, I still stand with my head held high, proud of who I am, my heritage and the legacy of the women who have carried this world on their back so that I can be of service to others. I will forever be proud to be a black woman!

"I have a life-long commitment to service, and I fight for the weak and understand the hurt. I am a woman of conviction and not conformity. Through my faith I am commanded to live differently according to a higher loyalty, I am for the people and not myself."

                                             

Contact Ashley:
Twitter
Blog
Website (Relaunch Feb 15th)
Email

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

George Stewart II



Name: George Stewart II

Age: 33

College: University of Southern Mississippi

Major: Sports Administration with a minor in Business Admin

Grad Year: 2004


Awards: Toastmasters Best Speaker Award


About George: George Stewart II is an award nominated educator, author, writer, and speaker who is dedicated to helping young men realize their potential and empowering them to live their best life.

Aside from teaching and mentoring, George is also an education, fatherhood, youth development, family, and relationship issues contributor. His work has appeared on several websites and in national magazines, where his work has gained thousands of viewers. He is currently a contributor to Healthy Black Men magazine. George has also been interviewed on issues such as the “black man”, love, and family.

George is constantly gaining opportunities to further his education in the hopes that he can help other young men become successful in life. He has obtained the credential of Fatherhood Practitioner and Healthy Relationships Educator and studied exercise science and counseling on the graduate school level. George’s passion for young men's development stems from his belief that “strong men = strong families and strong families = strong communities". George is a proud husband, father, and member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. 

At the beginning of 2013, George published his first book entitled, Words Of Wisdom For My Son. "I wrote this book in hopes that it would help change a young man’s life or help a young man continue down the right path."

What is your life's mission?

My mission in life is to help young people, especially young men, realize their potential and empower them and help equip them with the tools needed to live their best possible life.

What does being a black man mean to you?

Being a black man means understanding that “black male” stereotypes still exist. “We are angry, we are violent, we don’t take care of our children, we are cheaters, we’re not as smart as our white counterparts, etc.” However, I, along with other black men, know that we are blessed with the intellectual capacity and moral fiber needed to destroy these “black male” stereotypes. Finally, being a black man means that I am a part of a brotherhood. And as brothers, we must do what we can to elevate one another.

"Being a black man means understanding that “black male” stereotypes still exist ... However, I, along with other black men, know that we are blessed with the intellectual capacity and moral fiber needed to destroy these “black male” stereotypes"



Contact George:
Website
Email

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Jasmine Crowe


Name: Jasmine Crowe 

Age: 29

College: Northern Carolina Central University

Major: Broadcast Journalism and Communication

Grad Year: 2005 


Master's Degree: Business Administration

Grad Year: 2007




About Jasmine: Compassionate, Zealous, Visionary and Inspiring are just a few of the words that describe Jasmine Crowe, the 29 year old MBA graduate who is working to make the world a better place, one day at a time. The impetus behind Jasmine’s drive is simply making the world a better place. With an uncommon goal of fostering change and creating awareness on the world’s leading socioeconomic issues and challenges including: poverty, health, education and energy to name a few. Jasmine created Black Celebrity Giving (BCG) in 2011, the site serves as a platform to inform audiences of ways to give back in black communities across the world.

"I wanted to create a paradigm shift, I wanted to create a site where people can come and get information and insight on how to make the world a better place. As we began our work, I knew that we could do more if we worked with nonprofits on a grassroots level, so we are creating an Urban Giving Center to serve as an incubator both in person and online for non-profits to truly reach their potential." 

Born in Texas and growing up as a military child, she has resided in Texas, Oregon, New Mexico, Arizona, and North Carolina where she attended high school in Charlotte and college at North Carolina Central University in Durham with a background in public relations, celebrity foundation management and events. Jasmine has successfully created events and fundraising initiatives for organizations: The Boys & Girls Club, All in For a Cause, Discoverlaw.org, Mack's Miracle's and The Miss Black Arizona Scholarship Foundation, which she founded in 2008. In addition to her most cherished work in the non-profit arena, she has spearheaded campaigns and executed events across the United States for some of the country's preeminent venues, brands and acts including: Studio 54 in the MGM Grand Las Vegas, Grammy award winner Common, Soulja Boy, boxing champion Wink Wright, NFL Pro-Bowler Marcus McNeill, former NBA All-Star Allen Iverson, Peter Kent Luxury Leather Handbags, Belvedere Vodka, Cadillac, Vitamin Water, Hummer, Nike and Tiffany & Co. 

A public and motivational speaker, Jasmine has delivered a message to audiences around the country and has served and moderated panels in business, education, technology and entertainment realms. Jasmine lives by the saying, "if God is for me then who can be against me," and knows that in her life the sky is the limit. Her hobbies include: mentoring, traveling, reading, writing, giving back, church, spending time with family and friends and working out. Jasmine currently resides in Atlanta, GA where she plans to open the first office for BCG and launch the Urban Giving Center to serve nonprofits. She is working on her first book titled Lessons Learned in my Twenties, slated to release fall 2013. 

"I have overcome so much in my life, since being a teenager, I have had good days and bad days. I made a lot of mistakes as a young entrepreneur as it related to credit, business partners you name it; but I like to look at them as life lessons and I've learned from them."


What is your life's mission? 
I am guided by the vision of what I believe BCG can be. Originally my goal was to uplift, enlighten, spotlight, encourage and entertain through the medium of an online website. Now, my life's mission for BCG is to use this platform to transform people’s lives, to make our readers know that even the simplest form of giving can help create social change. I want to train nonprofit leaders and help them reach their individual goals. And although it may sound a bit cliche, I do hope to make the world a better place.


What does being a black woman mean to you? 
Being a black woman to me, means handwork, power and perseverance. I know the sacrifices that have been made for me to be here today. I take pride in representing all black women in a positive light. 


"I want to train nonprofit leaders and help them reach their individual goals. And although it may sound a bit cliche, I do hope to make the world a better place"




Contact Jasmine:
Website