When a baby is born …
there is usually much elation, celebration, and lovey-dovey feelings oozing from that child’s new family.
That was not the case for me at the time of my birth.
I was born in the South Bronx to a Jamaican immigrant single mom who had escaped an abusive marital relationship. While my mom’s escape was thought to protect me from the harsh realities of being a person of color living in America, her efforts did not protect me from the violence in our own family. I experienced physical, emotional, and verbal abuse from an older half-sister and was molested by an older male figure in our family for years. Instead of finding solace in the presence of my mother, what I found was constant criticism about any and everything pertaining to me as my mom placed her hopes of future financial security on my dreams of becoming a medical doctor. For me, my abject impoverished beginnings did not cloud my views about the possibilities for my future; I needed only to keep focused and work hard and anything would be possible career-wise.
Such focus and success did not translate into my peer relationships, though. Throughout my childhood and teen years, I found it hard to socially connect with others and I defaulted to remaining quiet, mulling around my own thoughts about things I would observe. Despite my reserve, other people—peers and adults—often sought me out for advice and solutions to their problems, commenting, “You’re so easy to talk to” and “You’re such a good listener.” Being a deep thinker, as I’d listen to others, I found that I could easily see the possibilities regarding their situations and since I did not have anyone encouraging me, I found great pleasure in exhorting others towards their (personal and social) goals.
My focus and drive kept me moving forward to achieve admission to attend Brown University as a biomedical engineering major. The freedom that their New Curriculum gave me to explore my intellectual interests further bolstered my self-esteem and sense of autonomy … until Organic Chemistry thwarted all of that and the fiscal realities of graduating in four years dashed my dreams of being the next Grey’s Anatomy “Dr. Miranda Bailey.” Hearing a career services counselor remind me of the pedigree of my Ivy League education and say, “You can create your own career,” helped me see that my skills —being able to analyze, assess, and think outside the box— that helped me navigate the New Curriculum would be useful to myself and others.
Now don’t get me wrong when I say that it was while I was teaching high school geometry and in the middle of demonstrating a proof on the board—mind you, I love math!—that the question, “What am I doing with my life” crossed my mind. It was in that moment, as I looked at those bright-eyed and bushy-tailed students that I realized that I didn’t want to teach steps to a geometry proof, but I wanted to teach the next generation of youth the steps that would lead them through their current circumstances towards their goals. But I didn’t know exactly how …
… that is, until I met Eddie. He was a summer intern whom I’d hired when I was working at a Fortune 500 company in the Human Resources’ Training and Development department. At first, Eddie had a hard time transitioning from his inner city environment to the corporate arena. However, with my practical instruction and attention to details, I mentored him and he became the model intern for the program. It was that whole experience that got me thinking more concretely about how I could be of help to those (in this case, youth) who are attempting to navigate transitions in their lives—from city to corporate life, from middle to high school to college … and beyond.
Career Clarity Complete
That curiosity led me to pursue a doctorate in counseling psychology, get licensed as a psychologist, and focus on helping the next generation of young people see themselves clearly, clarify their goals, and engage in the processes needed to reach their goals. What remains true regardless of the environments they find themselves in, the one thing that remains constant is their family of origin with their early caregivers and influential adults. The main influential adult during most of a young person’s formative years is his/her mother. So, I am now taking my 20+ years of clinical therapy work with youth to partner up with …
moms who are desirous to find ways to