About Us: President's Office

Spelman College Graduates with President Beverly Daniel Tatum

2012 Convocation Speech: Going for the Gold!

Given by President Beverly Daniel Tatum
August 23, 2012
Print Version (pdf)

Good morning!   It is great to see all of you here.  This opening convocation is one of my favorite events because it marks the beginning of a new school year, a school year that offers new learning opportunities for all of us – not just students, but faculty, staff, administrators – new opportunities for all of us to embrace what it means to be a part of this special academic community.  It is also another opportunity to welcome our newest students, attending their first opening convocation at Spelman College.  

Again, I want to welcome our new Pauline Drake Scholars, our transfer students, our international and domestic exchange students, and of course, all the members of the Class of 2016!  And to members of the class of 2013, moving ever closer to that graduation date – Sunday, May 19, 2013 -- welcome to your last opening convocation as students at Spelman!  And of course, we welcome our sophomores and juniors as well.

I also want to thank our faculty and staff who have joined us this morning.  Today we will have the great opportunity to spotlight some very accomplished members of our faculty as part of this morning’s program – and I want to thank their friends and family members for joining us to help celebrate their achievements. 

Just before school opened this semester, the faculty spent two days at the Faculty Institute focused on technology, and some of them signed up for new Twitter accounts.  As some of you know, I have a Twitter account too, (you can find me  @BDTSpelman) and I love to post pictures of what’s going on at Spelman College.  If you will indulge me, I am going to take a picture of all of you right now with my phone.

Thanks for your patience.  Now, I am turning my phone off and students, I would like to ask you to turn yours off too.  I am going to need your undivided attention, because we’ve got important work to do together, and I don’t want you to miss anything!

The title of my talk today is “Going for the Gold!” and it was inspired by my trip to the London Olympics earlier this month.

Take a look at this photo:  Gabby With Spelman Swag bag

I am sure some of you have seen it before, maybe on Twitter or on Facebook.  It is a photo of Gold medal gymnast Gabby Douglas standing with her mother, and a Spelman graduate, Helen Smith Price.  Gabby, as you can see, is holding a Spelman gift bag.  Some of you may have read that I was in London trying to recruit Gabby to come to Spelman.  There’s only a little bit of truth to that.  I was in London to attend the Olympics, but before I left Spelman, I decided to pack a Spelman t-shirt, a Spelman CD with “A Choice to Change the World” on it,  a gift bag, and a Spelman note card with a congratulatory message from me written on it.   I didn’t know for sure if I would meet Gabby Douglas, but I thought there was a chance I might, and if I did, I wanted to let her know just how proud the Spelman community is of her achievement, and of course, I did suggest in my note that she might like to visit our campus. 

As it turned out, I did not get a chance to meet Gabby myself, but I learned that Helen Smith Price C’ 79, the Coca Cola executive who was my host at the Olympics, would be meeting with her, and she promised to deliver the gift bag for me.  I told her to be sure to get a picture, and Helen did just that.   She e-mailed a copy of the photo to her son, a Morehouse graduate, who posted it on his Facebook page.  One of his Spelman friends saw it and put it on Twitter, and the photo “went viral.”   When I returned home from London a couple of days later, a number of reporters called my office and wanted to know why I was interested in Gabby, after all, we don’t have a gymnastics program here.  I replied, “Anyone who has the drive and the discipline to achieve world-class excellence is likely to have what it takes to be successful at Spelman College.”  And that is what you all have in common with Gabby Douglas, the capacity to perform with excellence – to achieve our personal and collective best – to “go for the gold!” 

As you know, Gabby Douglas won two gold medals, a team medal and an individual medal – and that idea of “going for the gold” as individuals and as a team (in this case the team is the institution we call Spelman College) – is what I want to elaborate on this morning.

Now, to my knowledge, we don’t have any gold medal Olympians in the class of 2016 but each of you, in your own special way, demonstrated that YOU have the drive and the discipline to be successful at Spelman College.  In choosing to come to this institution, each of you has said, I am ready to “go for the gold” - I am ready to achieve my “personal best” and that is what we are looking for from you.  Your personal best!

And that is what we are looking for as an institution.  In my very first speech at Spelman College, ten years ago, I said our goal was “NOT to be the best HBCU – many would say we have achieved that already.  It is NOT to be the best women’s college – that category is too limiting.”  I said, “I want us to be one of the finest liberal arts undergraduate institutions, period – without qualifying modifiers – a world-class institution!!  I want Spelman to be “nothing less than the best.”

And it is exciting to look back and see how together we have improved in many ways over the last ten years!  But as good as we are, individually and collectively, we can always be better – and that’s what going for the gold is all about.   Continually striving for world-class excellence! 

Our strategic plan – Strengthening the Core: The Spelman Plan for 2015 – guides us in our quest for that level of excellence.  We have identified our GOALS –

  • G - Global engagement, with meaningful international travel opportunities for every student  (2016, get your passports ready!)
  • O - Opportunities for career-related internships and undergraduate research experience,
  • A - Alumnae connections for mentoring and sisterhood
  • L - Leadership development, tailored to each student’s talents and needs
  • S - Service learning, connecting theory and practice, linking the classroom study to  service in the community

It is exciting to see the progress we are making in all of those areas.  Today I want to lift up the great strides we are making in our effort to “go global!”  Our Quality Enhancement Plan (or QEP) is called Spelman Going Global, and we have!  

Last year we officially launched the Gordon-Zeto Center for International Education and under the leadership of  Dr. Dimeji Togunde, our coordinated efforts are yielding great results!  New doors are opening for our students every day.  Last year more than 200 students traveled internationally, experiencing the world in places like Costa Rica, South Africa, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Panama, France, Spain, Trinidad, the Bahamas, Brazil, Germany, China and Japan – and that is just a partial list.  I am especially excited about the global summer research opportunities our students have had -- studying engineering in Germany, microbiology in Spain, environmental science in Brazil, tropical biology in Costa Rica!  I often say Spelman women are everywhere, and they are, but what I really should say is that Spelman women are everywhere, and they are doing amazing things!

I traveled a lot this summer too, and one of the places I went was to China to attend a meeting in Nanjing of an organization called Women’s Education Worldwide.

It was very interesting to learn about the history of women’s colleges in China, where most were eliminated during the communist era, but some are now re-emerging.  I also had the opportunity to connect with the leaders of our partner institutions, like President Ino of Tsuda College in Japan, and forge new relationships with institutional representatives from schools like Lady Shri Ram College in India, a place we hope to exchange with in the future. 

After the conference was over, I traveled to Shanghai, the financial center of China, where our own professor of Chinese language, Dr. Zhengbin Liu, was a very gracious guide. 

He was there with several Spelman students, as part of a Chinese summer language study at Shanghai Institute for Finance and Economics.  I had a chance to talk with our students, and it was really gratifying to see what an important impact this global experience was having.

For example, one of our students shared that she wants to work in New York City after graduation, but acknowledged that before coming to China she felt a little intimidated by the idea of going to such a large city on her own, having grown up in a small town.  If you are not from New York, you can understand why that prospect might seem daunting.  But this summer, she had the adventure of her life.  She spent the summer in Shanghai, a city much bigger than even New York, where as a 6 ft. tall African American woman, she clearly stood out, where she did not have access to a cell phone, and where she did not speak or read the language (though she came there to learn it.)  She embraced the experience, and after just a few weeks had learned to navigate the city on her own using public transportation, and was brimming with confidence about her future in ways she did not expect.  “After navigating Shanghai on my own, I know I am ready for New York!” It is that kind of transformational learning that we want all of you to experience while at Spelman.

We are delighted, too, that our international student population is also increasing. We now have students at Spelman from all over the world – as close as Bermuda, as far away as Nepal, from the Czech Republic and Japan to Zimbabwe and Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa, and that is just a partial list.

Going for the Gold at Spelman is truly a global effort!

Alumnae engagement is growing too, with mentoring programs for students interested in law, health careers, financial services, the hospitality industry, education and public service, as well as involvement in our first-generation student support programs and other opportunities to build intergenerational connections.   In this political season, I want to lift up the annual SGA-sponsored trip to Capitol Hill in Washington where Spelman students are hosted by alumnae working on the Hill, and have a chance to engage with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, lobbyists, and others to get an insider’s view of the political process.  Our DC alumnae are so excited to see a busload of Spelman students in the halls of Congress, and we all want to see more Spelman women in those decision-making roles.

Indeed, leadership development of all kinds is core to our mission.  Leadership experiences abound here at Spelman in the classroom and outside of it, and the SYE — the Sophomore Year Experience – is designed to give every student a chance to focus on her vision for her own leadership development and what steps she needs to take to achieve that vision.

Service learning opportunities continue to expand, and I am particularly excited about the number of faculty that are designing service learning components for their classes.    Students, look for these opportunities as you move through your years at Spelman.  They will be among the most meaningful learning opportunities that you will have.

The structure that undergirds all of this is the Spelman MILE – my integrated learning experience – which provides a pathway from the first-year seminar experience in ADW – Africans in the Diaspora and the World – to senior capstone experiences such as your own research thesis or creative expression that hopefully we will see presented to the campus community at Research Day.  So much can happen between this moment of a new school year for the entering students and this moment, the day of commencement anxiously awaited by the Class of 2013!

But, it’s not just enough to graduate.  Graduation is of course a very important achievement, and we do not take it for granted.  According to the 2010 Census, less than 20% of African American adults over the age of 25 have a college degree. Increasing education is essential to the betterment of our communities across the Diaspora.  Last year I spoke about Project 2015 – the challenge to the Class of 2015 to be the first class in Spelman’s history to graduate at 100%.  Our graduation rate at its best has been 80%, good but not gold!  In these difficult economic times, the rate has dipped below 80%.  We as a nation cannot afford to let any of this precious talent go unused, those bold dreams and aspirations go unfulfilled.  So we want you to get to the goal of graduation.  And Class of 2016, you too have a chance to meet that 100% graduation challenge!

But, graduation by itself is not enough.   Last January I read an op-ed column by Thomas Friedman in the New York Times, entitled “Average is Over.”  It made quite an impression on me, and I want to read just an excerpt from it to set the context of what I am about to say.  Highlighting both the impact of globalization and rapid technological advances, Friedman wrote:

In the past, workers with average skills, doing an average job, could earn an average lifestyle.  But, today, average is officially over.  Being average just won’t earn you what it used to.  It can’t when so many more employers have so much more access to so much more above average cheap foreign labor, cheap robotics, cheap software, cheap automation, and cheap genius.  Therefore, everyone needs to find their extra – their unique value contribution that makes them stand out in whatever is their field of employment.  Average is over.

I urge you to find it and read the whole essay, but the point I want to lift up is this – don’t just set your sights on graduation.  Set your sights on finding your “extra” – your unique value contribution, the thing you have to offer that no one else can.  We all have that “extra” potential, but sometimes we don’t choose to develop it, or even acknowledge it.   Sometimes we just do what’s necessary to get by – without making that “extra” effort.  One thing I know for sure, you can’t “go for the gold” without “extra” effort.   Don’t be average, be excellent!

As an institution, we have to do the same thing.  I believe Spelman College has remained strong despite the challenges of the economic climate because we understand our unique value contribution.  We serve all our students well, regardless of background, but we have a specialty – and that specialty has made us the global leader in the education of women of African descent, and we take pride in that.  But to maintain that position, we have to bring our very best effort to the task.  And students, so do you.  Bring your “A” game every day!

As I look out at all of you, I see a faculty ready to facilitate learning. I see staff and administrators ready to provide the infrastructure support to make it happen. And, I see a Chapel full of great students, ready to do great things, whose families have made the sacrifices necessary to get you here, ready to engage in the intellectual work we expect.

And that intellectual work has already included the reading of Melissa Harris-Perry’s thought-provoking text – Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America – the book which is the anchor text for a year of programming in this, the inaugural year - of the Ida B. Wells-Barnett Lecture Series.  The theme is “More than a Vote:  Women’s Struggle for Full Citizenship” and we will have the chance to be inspired by Angela Davis, speaking here on September 17th and Melissa Harris-Perry herself on February 21st. 

Students, I hope you understand just how extraordinary that is! I will share a personal anecdote.  I first had the opportunity to hear Angela Davis speak in the fall of 1974 when I was a senior in college.  Her autobiography had just been published, and after her very inspiring talk, I stood in line so she could sign my book. 

There I was in the fall of 1974 (20 years old).


And there she was in 1974 (just 30 years old), but so fierce, and I was impressed.

She spoke about the struggle for social justice and I asked her what could I do to make a difference, and she told me to “work against racism.”  Though I didn’t realize it then, when I look back over my career, that is indeed a big part of what I have been doing – studying, teaching, writing about racism – trying to bring about change in our society in general, and in particular, in education for the betterment of students of color. 

Students, don’t miss your opportunity for inspiration.  Be there on September 17.  Professor Davis has a new book just released, The Meaning of Freedom and other Difficult Dialogues, and I hope you’ll come ready to engage those ideas with her.

When Professor Davis comes to visit, we will use that occasion to hold an open house in our newly renovated Laura Spelman Hall - the new home of our Social Justice Fellows Program, under the leadership of Dr. Cynthia Spence – and the Yvonne Jackson Academic Study Center, the study resource center on the ground floor of Laura Spelman that will be available 24-hours a day with swipe-card access, another example of our effort to “go for the gold.”  I mean that quite literally in that the Laura Spelman renovation has been done in accordance with LEED principles (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). 

The Spelman College Board of Trustees made a policy decision in 2010 that all new construction or renovation projects would be done at least at the LEED Silver level, but with the Laura Spelman project we have built in enough sustainable design elements that we believe we will achieve LEED Gold in that building.  I want to congratulate Director of Facilities Management Art Frazier and his team, under the leadership of Vice President for Business and Financial Affairs Danny Flanigan, for that success – as well as for the successful air-conditioning of McAlpin Hall this summer. 

We want to continue “going for the gold” in the new campus projects we will be undertaking.  Our next planned project is a renovation of Read Hall, working hard to raise the funds now with the expectation that we will be able to start that project next summer, to be followed by the renovation of the Rockefeller Fine Arts Building.  These building projects will keep us busy for the next few years – yet another example of how we are pursuing our institutional goal of being “nothing less than the best,”  bringing all parts of our campus into the 21st century.

The sustainability theme is one that is also woven into our strategic plan –and it’s not just environmental sustainability.  It is institutional sustainability (the preservation of our institutional reputation for excellence) and personal sustainability, too.  This year I am particularly focused on personal sustainability. 

As I look out at all of you, I am disturbed by something important.  I know that the Surgeon General says you are not likely to live as long as I will.  It’s true that this generation of students is not expected to live as long as their parents’ generation because of unsustainable lifestyle choices – poor diet, lack of exercise, and exposure to health risks like HIV-AIDS.  This is, and must be, a serious concern for this institution because it is our population – young Black women – that are among the most at risk for negative health outcomes.  Melissa Harris-Perry writes about this, too.  She tells us that “Black women have higher rates of hypertension and diabetes. They are more likely to die of breast cancer and more likely to have a hysterectomy. While HIV-AIDS infections have declined throughout the United States, the highest rate of new cases is among young black women, in whom it is also the leading cause of death.”[i]

We as an institution – committed to educating the whole person, mind, body and spirit – have an opportunity to change that, and we are getting ready to do just that, with the planned renovation of Read Hall and the programming that will accompany it.   But you don’t have to wait for that to happen.  We have a wonderful Wellness program now, under the creative leadership of Chavonne Shorter, that I hope you will use to the fullest.  Whether you are interested in Aqua Aerobics or Zumba, Fitness Walking or Yoga, Tennis or Tai Chi, there is an activity that you can get involved in, and you should – not just because it will reduce your risk of diabetes or heart disease or breast cancer, or lift your spirits if you feel depressed, but it will also improve your academic performance as well. 

I read a fascinating book this summer called Spark: The Revolutionary Science of Exercise and the Brain that talked about the physiological impact of exercise on the brain.  The quick summary is this, “Exercise is ‘Miracle Gro’ for the brain.”   It will help you focus, improve your memory, and just might make the difference in your effort to achieve your personal best!    So, as First Lady Mrs. Obama says, “Let’s move!”

As you know, this is an election year, and we expect full engagement. To paraphrase our song, “It’s your choice, and choose to change the world.”  Register to vote.  If you don’t, shame on you! It is your hard-won right as a citizen – don’t give it up with lack of use.  Educate yourself about the issues, read the NY Times (which will soon be available in kiosks around the campus), take advantage of the speakers who will be here, search out information on-line – do what you need to do to be an informed voter, and then educate others.  Stay tuned for more information about how you can be involved with this important exercise in democracy.

As you’ve heard, I was in London and China this summer.  I also traveled to Israel. The gold you see in this photo is the golden Dome of the Dome of the Rock (one of the holiest sites in the Islamic faith).  It is located in Jerusalem, the same place that the Temple Mount is located (the holiest site in Judaism) as well as the most revered Christian church, believed to be built on the site of the crucifixion of Jesus.  This city is at the center of a long and centuries-old conflict that most of us don’t know enough about.  There are members of this community who would have preferred that I not visit Israel because of the political conditions currently imposed by the Israeli government on the Palestinian people in the occupied territories, and I respect their viewpoint.  Just as South Africa was boycotted during the era of apartheid, there are those who advocate a similar boycott of Israel.  Despite that, I made the decision to go as part of a seminar for college presidents called Project Interchange, and I learned a lot in the process.  I am still processing what I learned, and working on an essay about my experience.  I look forward to sharing it with the Spelman community when it is finished and dialoguing with those whose perspective is different from mine. 

I share this story with you to illustrate that this is a community in which free-thinking people can approach important questions from multiple perspectives, can engage in dialogue, disagree and still maintain mutual respect.  That ability – to explore an issue, analyze a problem, state your perspective and engage others in dialogue about it with civility and respect – is an important characteristic of an intellectual community.   Students, it is the hallmark of an excellent education to be able to do that.  We might even call it the “gold standard” – and it is also part of what I mean today when I say we are “going for the gold.”

We are also going for the gold – our institutional best – in our effort to create an inclusive community in which everyone feels welcome.  I know we are not there yet, but that is our aspiration.  At Spelman we talk a lot about the 3 Cs – civility, commitment, and consistency – three values at the heart of the Spelman honor code.

Today, I want to lift up another acronym - what I call the ABCs – affirming identity, building community, and cultivating leadership. 

Affirming identity. Students need to see themselves reflected in the environment around them in positive ways -- in the curriculum, faculty, staff, and the faces of their classmates -- to avoid feelings of invisibility or marginality that can undermine student success.   I can illustrate the importance of this is a simple example.  Imagine I post the photo I took at the beginning of this talk on Twitter, and you are looking at it, enlarging so you can see individual faces. What is the first thing you will do?  Look for yourself!  There is no other answer.  But what if you are not in the picture?  What if you’re never in the picture?  Your attention gets focused not on what you came to do, but on how badly it feels to be left out.

When we talk about affirming identity at Spelman, we can talk about multiple aspects of our community. Whether it is acknowledging our Muslim students during Ramadan (which ended just last week), making sure they can find food after sundown when it is time to break the fast, or making sure that our buildings are accessible to members of our community with mobility challenges, or recognizing in our language that not every new student is straight out of high school, that there are older women in our midst who are new students too, acknowledging that there is racial and ethnic diversity within our community, as well as diversity in sexual orientation and gender expression, we must constantly ask ourselves who have we included in our campus portrait and who is being left out.

Building community is important, too.

We all want to feel that we belong to a larger, shared school community. Out of many, we want to become one Spelman community.  The reality is, however, that when the need for affirmation has been met, everyone feels more willing and able to engage with others across lines of difference. Affirming identity helps give those who usually get left out the energy and stamina to do the hard work of building community. 

Cultivating leadership. Leadership in the 21st century requires the ability to interact effectively with others whose identities and life experiences are different from yours.  It takes practice, and all of us need more practice.   

The work of the LGBTQ Working Group, which I convened last year, has been to consider issues of sexual orientation and gender expression at Spelman to understand what we need to do, as faculty, staff and administrators,  to ensure that our community is supportive of the academic and social needs of this part of our community as well.  It grows out of the Arcus-funded project which culminated in an HBCU Summit held at Spelman in April 2011.  That work, led by Dr. Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Director of the Women’s Research and Resource Center, was not just about Spelman but about working across the HBCU community, because many of our institutions are grappling with issues of homophobia and the silence and pain that surrounds it. 

As with environmental sustainability, Spelman has been identified as a leader in this arena as well, and we should claim that leadership with pride.  When we listen to our alumnae who identify as lesbian, bisexual, queer or transgender talk about the pain and isolation they experienced while they were students at Spelman, you have to ask yourself, “what can we do to make that situation better?”  This is important, of course for the students for whom this is their lived reality. 

But it is also important for every student because every student here will be a leader somewhere – in some sphere -- when she leaves this community, and leaders have to know how to engage effectively with people different from themselves.  Students who identify as Christian need to learn how to affirm their own faith without excluding or belittling others.  I want to commend Reverend Lisa Rhodes, our Dean of the Chapel, for her efforts to model that for our students. Those who identify as heterosexual need to learn how to feel comfortable in their own identity without feeling threatened or attacking those whose sexual orientation or gender expression is different from theirs.   We all have work to do in creating an inclusive community, and I know we can do that work together in an atmosphere of mutual respect. 

I am well aware that some of these conversations are challenging, and may cause discomfort, but growth often does.  That’s why they call them growing pains.

It is not easy to win an Olympic gold medal – you see the pain and agony on the faces of the athletes as they reach within to find that extra burst of speed.  If we want to be the very best we can be, some discomfort, some extra effort, will be required.  But for 131 years Spelman College has done things that others said would be difficult –  not only existing for that length of time, but thriving, achieving prominence for Spelman women in underrepresented fields like math and science, and now establishing a truly global presence.  We can create a community that is welcoming to all, and be a beacon for other institutions that are on a similar journey.  

In the Olympics, Gabby Douglas won a gold medal as part of a team, and also as an individual.  When I talk about our institutional efforts, I am talking about going for the “Team Gold.”  But, students, don’t forget what it means to pursue “individual gold” – to achieve your “personal best.”  That is, after all, what you have come here to do.  When graduation day comes, it is you - an individual - who crosses the stage.  That is your golden moment, and I have just a couple of things that you must remember in order to get there.

1)      Do your own work and respect the rules.  Integrity is essential. When you lose the trust of those around you, it is hard to get it back.  You can be on the verge of success and get disqualified for cheating.  We saw it happen in the Olympics and you may see it happen at Spelman.  In the Olympics, you can get disqualified for using drugs.  At Spelman, that can happen, too.  You can be offered an internship, and if your employer does drug testing, and many of them do, you will be disqualified if you test positive.  You will be disqualified for fighting or abusive, harassing behavior of any kind.  That is not the kind of community we want, and we will send you home if you don’t understand that.

Ask for help.  Don’t struggle alone. On Sunday evening, at the induction ceremony, some of us heard Nyla Whalum of the Class of 2016 sounding like Alicia Keys, playing the piano and singing these lines, “Even when I’m a mess, I put on my vest, with an S on my chest, I’m a superwoman, yes I am.”  Nyla did a fabulous job on the song.  Yet, those lines take on new meaning in the context of reading Melissa Harris-Perry’s discussion.  She writes, “The strength mandate forces black women into painful silences about their own needs even as they push relentlessly to serve others.”[ii]  Don’t fall into that trap.

When you find that you are a mess – whether that is academically, personally, or perhaps financially – reach out for help, not only to classmates  -  but to advisers, counselors, concerned faculty, staff, administrators who can assist.  That is why we are here.  And let’s not forget our alumnae mentors, who are just a phone call or an e-mail away.  There may not always be an immediate solution, but it always helps to know that you don’t have to struggle alone.

In Melissa Harris-Perry’s book, Sister Citizen, she talks a lot about the “crooked room,” and how hard it is to stand up straight when everything is distorted around you, and the images that are reflected back to you are distorted.  At Spelman College, we have tried to construct a room that is not crooked, a room where the images are not distorted (or at least not as distorted as they are outside our gates).  We have not achieved perfection, but we are always working to be better – and so should you.  We may live in a crooked world, but your job is to do all you can to stand erect – and as Spelman sisters, for us to help each other keep our balance. 

I want to close with this quote found in Sister Citizen:

Shirley Chisholm said, “I want history to remember me not just as the first black woman to be elected to Congress, not as the first black woman to have made a bid for the presidency of the United States, but as a black woman who lived in the 20th century and dared to be herself.”[iii]

My Spelman Sisters, you live in the 21st century, but the message is the same. 

Dare to be yourself – in the fullness of your talent and your purpose .  Dare to be yourself, find your “extra,” and you will be well on your way to achieving your personal best. 

Go for that gold – and make us all proud!  It’s your time to shine, and it’s going to be a great year!!   Thanks for being here!

[i] Harris-Perry, Melissa V. (2011-09-20). Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America (Kindle Locations 712-714). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition.

[ii] Harris-Perry, Melissa V. (2011-09-20). Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America (Kindle Locations 2786-2787). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition.

[iii] Harris-Perry, Melissa V. (2011-09-20). Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America (Kindle Locations 4140-4141). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition.