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Spelman College 2018 WEL Graduates

Monique Monge Encourages Students on Conquering Life's Trials and Obstacles

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Overcoming Life's Unpredictable Circumstances

Monique Monge, C'2020, a Philadelphia native, inspiring author, storyteller, and advocate, spoke to students during the third week of the Spelman Independent Scholars (SIS) spring interview speaker series on Tuesday evening, April 16, in the Olivia Hanks Cosby, Ed.D. Auditorium, Room 329.

In her early 40s, Monge faced severe visual impairment, which became a transformative part of her journey. Monique's debut memoir, "The Jade Paradigm," is a powerful narrative that not only shares her personal odyssey but also advocates for the physically disabled and those dealing with mental illness.

When asked by scholar Sydney Jael-Wilson how she overcomes unpredictability, Monge responded, “For so much of my life, unpredictability goes and hand-and-hand with trauma with me. I developed something at a very young age that I talked about in the book, which is autopilot. I refuse to feel. I refuse to acknowledge things and I just keep moving. I may take time in retrospect to think about those feelings. For the most part, I’m always moving. As long as I’m moving, I wasn’t necessarily feeling.”

“Of all of the sensory perceptions that we have as human beings, pain associated with trauma is probably the most impactful to human beings. I recognized that pain demands to be felt. Whether it's through a heartbreak or the loss of someone you love. How you deal with pain is fully up to you. There were times in my life where I chose to acknowledge it, where I chose to feel it and later on found out that it will resurface on you,” Monge said.

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Healing Pain and Trauma Through Writing


"My goal in writing my book was to highlight my experience and not necessarily the people involved and how I managed to get through. I was very nervous about what people would think. I talk about tough topics in this book. I touch on sexual assault, suicide (and other) horrific incidents. You’re always going to be ok. It doesn’t matter what type of trauma you go through, and you’re always going to be ok. It may not feel like it when you’re going through it. You may experience some horrific things or think that you can't breathe because someone you love has left this earth. You’re going to be ok. It’s about the resiliency of the human spirit. It wasn’t anything I set out to do (writing a book). I’m surprised I’ve done this outside of Dr. Gayles, who encouraged me," Monge said.

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Journey from a GED to a Spelman College Degree

Large Blue Quote Left(My advice for writers) Just do it! A lot of people like myself have those moments where they’re like I don’t know how to write a book. I’m good at telling my story. Writing and speaking are two different things, and I had to learn the hard way, especially in writing this book. We launched this book in January in Atlanta. I have a lot of friends who are educators who work in corporate America; they have master’s degrees and Ph.D.s, you name it, and it was hilarious. They came to the book launch and said, ‘I need a dictionary to get through this book! Where did you get these words from!’ And I’m like, ‘Out of the dictionary!’ I used the dictionary and thesaurus all of the time. Dr. (Gloria Wade) Gayles would tell me and young scholars – if there’s ever a word in the English language that she does not appreciate is the word ‘like.’ She will tell you, ‘Stop saying ‘like.’ She can’t stand it. She would tell them, ‘Stop saying ‘like,’ you don’t need it! Find another word!’ 

"We would go over vocabulary all of the time. I was impressed with some of the words that we learned in her lectures. She would give us spelling words like we were in third grade. Spelling words became very interesting to me because I had not been a person who would use a lot of vocabulary. I did not receive a full education. I went back in my 20s to acquire a GED. I did not understand the relationship of a GED and higher education being available to me. For many years, I just had a GED. I figured I would at least get a decent job and not be labeled a high school dropout. When I moved to Atlanta in 2008, I learned that Spelman had the Pauline Drake Scholars program and I showed up with my GED in hand and asked if there was room for me at this table," Monge added.

The Pauline E. Drake Scholars Program offers mature learners an opportunity to begin or complete college studies. To qualify for admission to Spelman College through PEDS Program, an applicant should have been away from school or college for several years, be financially independent, and show evidence of having the potential to succeed academically.

Monge inspired the classroom full of students and visitors as they went around the room and shared encouraging words of thoughts about the program.

"Thank you for being my teacher. Thank you for teaching all of us what it means to love words, and to use words and to speak the truth that you have experienced. You are an inspiration to me and my chauffeur," Dr. Gayles added.

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Spelman Independent Scholars Spring Line Up

Tuesday, April 2, 2024
Colonel Dolores H. Hampton
Olivia Hanks Cosby, Ed.D. Auditorium, Room 329
5 p.m. - 6 p.m.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024
Captain Sharyl Chatman
Olivia Hanks Cosby, Ed.D. Auditorium, Room 329
5 p.m. - 6 p.m.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024
Monique Monge
Olivia Hanks Cosby, Ed.D. Auditorium, Room 329
5 p.m. - 6 p.m.

Sunday, April 21, 2024
Camilla Lowe
1 p.m. - 2 p.m.