3 Ways to Conquer Imposter Syndrome

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By Lori Pugh

I’ve spent most of my professional career in the high-tech field, surrounded by predominantly male leadership. While I will always be appreciative of the mentorship and guidance I have received over the years, I’ve often found self-comparison leading the way for me.

In the STEAM fields, you’re expected to be very innovative and forward-looking. While those around me exuded confidence and self-assurance, I have often felt like I was faking it. For the longest time, I became risk-averse for fear of looking stupid. As I climbed the corporate ladder, I was sure these feelings would leave me and was disappointed to find that they would intensify.

Then, one day, many years ago, an employee reached out to me asking for advice about overcoming “imposter syndrome.” Never having heard of this affliction, my interest was piqued. After reading more about it, I realized this term describes me. Discovering that others felt these feelings flooded me with relief. In my research, I found that this “syndrome” was felt mainly by women and people of color.

Instead of being stressed, I felt challenged to learn how to conquer it. I sought coaching to help me do so, which inspired me to help others with my newfound knowledge. It has been a monumental privilege to help others learn to conquer this debilitating condition. If you can relate to these feelings, then I know you can conquer them, too. Here are three ways to do so.

1. Build self-confidence. Nobody is born with confidence. That means it can be built! Self-confidence is an emotion guided by our thoughts. If we become aware of our thoughts and identify the driving factor of negative emotions, then we have the power to target and change them. We can alter beliefs about ourselves, our career, our relationships, our lives. It’s natural for fear to crop up. That’s just the primitive part of our brains trying to protect us. With practice, all of us can rise above those natural, fear-driven thoughts and create self-confidence in every area of our lives.

2. Recognize that failing is a crucial part of success. We’ve all been taught in some way that failure must be avoided. However, when I was surrounded by software engineers, I learned that we all need to fail to improve. They call it “failing fast.” When developing software, failures or “bugs” are a normal and natural part of the testing process. It helps developers improve what isn’t working in the coding. Rather than fearing failure, look at it as a sign that you’re learning and moving forward.

3. Stop agonizing over what others may think. It’s natural for us to ponder what others think about us, but it’s the worrying that paralyzes us because there’s nothing we can do about it. Worried thoughts, however, are notoriously inaccurate. In the end, you cannot control others’ thoughts, feelings or expectations. While you may still face times of worry, you also face a choice in those moments to have courage and move forward despite any discomfort. And in doing so, you will continue to build confidence in yourself.

The journey of creating self-confidence and conquering imposter syndrome can be a long and challenging process. But if you choose to be your authentic self and have confidence in your abilities, you’ve taken the first important step.

Lori Pugh is the Chief People Officer for the nonprofit, Waterford.org. She is also a certified life coach specializing in helping women build their self-confidence and recognize their inherent brilliance. You can find more information on her website, loripugh.com, or by joining her Facebook group, “Women Walking Tall.”

The Top 10 Fastest-Growing Jobs

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Especially coming out of the pandemic, the need for job security has increased for job seekers across the country. While many industries and ways of doing business have changed through the events of 2020 and into 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that there will be a 31 percent increase, at minimum, to 10 career fields in the next 10 years, despite the pandemic’s effects on the economy.

Pursuing a career in a growing field could not only provide job security through unprecedented events but could provide a steady income and a foundation for moving up in the ranks of your career. Check out the 10 fastest-growing jobs.

Wind Turbine Technician

A wind turbine technician, also known as a wind tech, installs, inspects, maintains, operates and repairs wind turbines. They can diagnose and fix any problem that could cause the turbine to shut down unexpectedly.

· Projected Growth Change: 68.2 percent

· Median Annual Wage: $56,260

· Required Education (minimum): Certificate in Wind Energy Technology

Nurse Practitioners

A nurse practitioner (NP) is an advanced practice registered nurse and a type of mid-level practitioner. NPs are trained to assess patient needs, order and interpret diagnostic and laboratory tests, diagnose disease plus formulate and prescribe treatment plans. NP training covers basic disease prevention, coordination of care and health promotion but does not provide the depth of expertise needed to recognize more complex conditions.

· Projected Growth Change: 52.2 percent

· Median Annual Wage: $120,680

· Required Education (minimum): Master’s degree in the field of Advanced Practice Nursing

Solar Photovoltaic Installers

Solar photovoltaic (PV) installers assemble, set up and maintain rooftop or other systems that convert sunlight into energy. Typically, a PV is in charge of measuring, cutting, assembling and installing solar modules, panels and support structures according to building codes and standards. They also work to maintain, test and ensure the productivity of PV systems.

· Projected Growth Change: 52.1 percent

· Median Annual Wage: $47,670

· Required Education (minimum): High School degree and Trade School Knowledge

Statisticians

Statisticians are responsible for analyzing data and applying computational techniques to solve problems. Typical job tasks include designing surveys, experiments and polls; applying mathematical theories and methods to solve practical problems in business, engineering and the sciences; and interpreting data and communicating analyses to technical and non-technical audiences.

· Projected Growth Change: 35.4 percent

· Median Annual Wage: $95,570

· Required Education (minimum): Master’s degree in Statistics

Physical Therapist Assistants

Physical therapist assistants sometimes called PTAs, and physical therapist aides work under the direction and supervision of physical therapists. They help patients recovering from injuries and illnesses regain movement and manage pain. They are directly involved in the care of patients and often aid in patient care, treatment area setup and clerical duties.

· Projected Growth Change: 35.4 percent

· Median Annual Wage: $61,180

· Required Education (minimum): Associate degree from an accredited program and a license or certification

Information Security Analysts

Information security analysts plan and carry out security measures to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems. They are responsible for monitoring an organization’s networks for security breaches, keeping up with information technology trends and are heavily involved with creating their organization’s disaster recovery plan.

· Projected Growth Change: 33.3 percent

· Median Annual Wage: $102,600

· Required Education (minimum): Bachelor’s degree in Computer and Information Technology or a related field

Home Health and Personal Care Aides

Home health and personal care aides monitor the condition of people with disabilities or chronic illnesses and help them with daily living activities. They often help older adults who need assistance. Under the direction of a nurse or other healthcare practitioner, home health aides may be allowed to give a client medication or to check the client’s vital signs.

· Projected Growth Change: 32.6 percent

· Median Annual Wage: $29,430

· Required Education (minimum): Formal training

Medical and Health Services Managers

Medical and health services managers, also called healthcare executives or administrators, plan, direct and coordinate medical and health services. They may manage an entire facility, a specific clinical area/department or a medical practice for a group of physicians. Medical and health services managers must adapt to changes in healthcare laws, regulations and technology.

· Projected Growth Change: 32.5 percent

· Median Annual Wage: $101,340

· Required Education (minimum): Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in related fields

Data Scientists and Mathematical Occupations

A data scientist creates programming code and combines it with statistical knowledge to develop insights from data. Data science is an interdisciplinary field focused on extracting knowledge from data sets, which are typically large, and applying the knowledge and actionable insights from data to solve problems in a wide range of application domains.

· Projected Growth Change: 31.4 percent

· Median Annual Wage: $100,480

· Required Education (minimum): Bachelor’s degree in Data Science in a computer-related field

Physician Assistants

Physician assistants, also known as PAs, practice medicine in teams with physicians, surgeons and other healthcare workers. They examine, diagnose and treat patients through examinations and diagnostic tests. They may also prescribe medication and give treatments.

· Projected Growth Change: 31 percent

· Median Annual Wage: $121,530

· Required Education (minimum): Master’s degree from an accredited educational program

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Energy, Wikipedia, Master’s in Data Science

The Importance of Telling LGBTQ+ Stories

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There are numerous stories of LGBTQ+ excellence, pride, perseverance and success throughout history, but many of these stories have been presented with little and sometimes even inaccurate information. To combat these, researchers across various backgrounds have come together to work with Wikipedia in making these stories as accurate, plentiful and accessible as possible. The Black EOE Journal sat down with one of these experts, Christina Carney to speak about the importance of telling LGBTQ+ stories:

Black EOE Journal (BEOEJ): What’s your background and what made you interested or excited to take part in this project?

Christina Carney (CC): I am an assistant professor of Black Queer Sexuality Studies at the University of Missouri in Columbia. I received my Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, San Diego and a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I grew up in a Black working-class neighborhood, Bronzeville, on the South Side of Chicago. Overall, my work examines Black women’s sex work in militarized zones. My book, Disreputable Women: Militarized Deviance and the Black Sexual Economy of San Diego, is currently under review at the University of California Press.

I learned about the Wiki Education project while attending the annual American Studies Association (ASA) conference a while back. I wanted to find new ways to improve my teaching pedagogy and creativity in the classroom. I knew that students were bored with traditional papers and exams as well as in-class group work. After talking to the Wiki Education rep at ASA and reading more information online, I became very excited about not only the fun students would have doing the project, but also the fact that I would be learning new skills as well. Learning with my students has been the best part. At the end of the semester, we all, including myself, present our projects to each other. I presented on a new article I developed, “United States v. Ingalls (1947),” which detailed the first Black women who were able to seek redress for sexual trafficking in the 20th century. I also updated other two articles – “Mann Act” and “White Slavery.” This Wiki project not only assisted students with the opportunity to include Black and Feminist Studies scholarship on Wikipedia, but, at the same time, add reliable information that is accessible to a wider audience!

BEOEJ: What has been your team’s process for curating stories from history that highlight and emphasize the legacy and impact of LGBTQ+ communities?

CC: A first step in curating stories is locating the content gaps in the Black Studies and Women’s Studies literatures. During the first week of the school-year, I assign two important articles on sexuality and intersectionality — Stacey Patton’s “Whose Afraid of Black Sexuality?” in The Chronicle of Higher Education and Kimberle Crenshaw’s “Mapping the Margins:

Intersectionality, Identity Politics and Violence against Women of Color.” In “Who’s Afraid of Black Sexuality?,” Patton gives us a starting point for thinking through how silence about sex and pleasure have left a content gap in Black studies. Black communities have created a culture of dissemblance by which Black sexuality is still considered a taboo topic.

This is not because there is something inherently pathological about Black people’s sexuality, but instead black people choose to remain silent because society continues to weaponize Black sexuality as a way to validate racism and violence. Consequently, these silences often lead to the further marginalization of BIPOC/POC in racial/ethnic groups. In “Mapping the Margins,” Crenshaw explains how people live within multiple identities every day, thereby impacting how much power (or not) they have in society. For example — Black cisgender men disproportionately police violence at alarming rates, the Black queer folx experience violence from members of their own community because of their intersectional identities of sexuality, class, age, etc.

With these frameworks in mind, students then do their own independent research. I allow students to either choose their own topic/page or choose from a list of pages that needs to be updated. For example, one of the student groups updated the page of “William Dorsey Swann (c. 1858 – 1925)” — considered the first recorded drag performer in U.S. history. Most stories about LGBTQ+ pioneers are white, cisgender men with access to certain forms of economic and cultural capital. Unfortunately, queer folx such as Marsha P. Johnson and William Dorsey Swann are often elided in the LGBTQ+ archives. Another group created an entirely new article, “Rogers v. American Airlines (1981).” Rogers v. American Airlines was a 1981 legal case decided by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York involving plaintiff Renee Rogers, a Black woman who brought charges against her employer, American Airlines, for both sex and race discrimination after she was dissuaded from wearing her hair in cornrows due to the airline’s employee grooming policy. The students not only cited sources detailing the politics of Black hair, but also how Black women are unfairly burdened with the responsibility of looking and dressing appropriately for the ‘Black race.’

BEOEJ: How many (and what type of) individuals, experts and organizations had to collaborate for this project to be successful?

CC: During each semester, our class is assigned two Wiki Education experts that assist students with logistical and technical questions or concerns. I then create a semester-long research plan for students which includes full-length books (non-fiction), peer-reviewed journals, lectures, mixed-media and films. I also partnered with the MU librarian who gave a virtual tour to students explaining the research tools available to them. Wikipedia’s Talk Pages was another resource for students because they were able to chat with other content creators. By the end of the Spring 2022 semester, our class of 31 created one new article, edited 22 articles, added 18,200 words and 195 peer-reviewed references which accumulated over 1.25 million article views.

BEOEJ: What were the biggest takeaways from this Wiki project, especially as they relate to intersectionality? What do you hope the public will do with this information?

CC: My biggest takeaway is the realization that high-impact research and knowledge can be accessible to a wider community — and not just limited to the ‘Ivory Tower.’ This is intersectionality in practice! Students are creating access for those who might not otherwise have

the resources to find reliable information. Student creators become the conduits for linking reliably sourced material to a global audience for free.

BEOEJ: How can LGBTQ+-owned and operated businesses and suppliers use this information to make a difference in their respective industries?

CC: I think it’s important to not just to talk about equality — but also discuss equity. For example, what are we doing in our everyday practice to make sure the most disadvantaged people in our communities and neighborhoods have access to the same information as a college professor or researcher in STEM? I think that is becoming more important every day.

The Power of Employee Resource Groups

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By Tawanah Reeves-Ligon

If you’re seeking ways to build community in your business amongst your employees and offer opportunities for them to grow and develop, it’s time to consider creating employee resource groups (ERGs). ERGs are employee-led groups that foster inclusivity and belonging within an organization and promote personal and professional growth and advancement.

While the premise is simple, the overall, measurable difference they can make in recruiting and retaining worthwhile talent is invaluable. What Defines an ERG? To be an ERG, the employees who are members share a common background. For example, an ERG can be formed with members who share a race, ethnicity, LGBTQIA+ orientation or identity, military or veteran status, socioeconomic background, home or regional background, religion or even those who live with a disability. The purpose is not to be exclusionary. On the contrary, the intent is to help members integrate into the larger organization through advocacy and mutual support and encouragement.

Allyship is also a key component of ERGs, and, sometimes, those who don’t share the same commonality of the ERG members are still offered an invitation to join as an ally within the company. Some companies will pay employees to lead ERGs; however, that is usually not the case. Leaders typically volunteer for the opportunity to make a difference in their workplace atmosphere and culture. Some excellent ERG examples are:

· Working Parents group

· Race/Ethnicity group:

o Black, African, Caribbean

o Latinx

o Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI)

o Native, Indigenous, First Nation

· Professional Women’s group

· Interfaith group

· LGBTQIA+

Why Have an ERG? It’s simple. ERGs create pockets of safe space and understanding between those with a shared identity. An underrepresented group in your company might face specific obstacles or concerns. Having an ERG allows the group members to confide in one another, problem solve and choose a course of action that will enable them to advocate for themselves and express their needs. They can also share resources and support each other in their career advancement or offer advice or mentorship on navigating company policies and procedures. Furthermore, ERGs build a culture of community and belonging within the framework of the larger company.

How to Support an ERG? There are many ways to support your company’s employee resource groups. Start by encouraging new hires to join; mention the benefits of the group at initial orientation or during training. Follow up the formation of ERGs by providing them with free professional and personal development courses to help them gain valuable skills. Since many of your workers may have limited time between professional and personal responsibilities, allow them to form their employee resource group on the clock.

Meet with your accounting team to figure out how to provide financial resources to assist them with materials needed for advertising and holding meetings. Also, you can create a diversity council that works with the ERG leaders to develop equity and inclusion goals for the company to make a better workplace culture and atmosphere for everyone. Finally, hiring more diverse employees makes it easier to promote practices, policies, and changes that encourage understanding and empathy. Employee resource groups are an excellent tool to recruit and retain competitive talent. It’s time for your organization to consider creating or finding ways to better support ERGs in your business

A Focus on Recruiting HBCU Graduates

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Now more than ever, a record number of HBCU graduates are thriving in positions of leadership and authority. HBCU graduates are leaders in every field and include barrier-breaking public servants, scientists, artists, lawyers, engineers, educators and business owners. Several HBCU graduates serve in senior roles in the Biden-Harris Administration including the Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement Cedric Richmond, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan and Vice President Kamala Harris — the first HBCU graduate ever to serve as Vice President of the United States.

Despite this record of success, disparities in resources and opportunities for HBCUs and their students persist, and the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted continuing and new challenges for HBCUs. As commencement ceremonies are celebrated across the country, thousands of graduates are beginning to enter the workforce, search for jobs and seek ways to apply their new skillset. But thanks to a new White House initiative and the dedication of the Department of Labor, an array of opportunities has opened up to these graduates, no matter the discipline.

Agencies among the Department of Labor, such as the Women’s Bureau and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), are recruiting recent HBCU graduates to come and work for their organizations.

“A lot of our minorities who attend HBCUs aren’t aware of the opportunities to work in the federal government,” Roxanne Griffith, a regional administrator with the Women’s Bureau, told WTOP News, “Even as a young person, I thought the federal government was a far reach for me, and it’s a whole lot closer than a lot of people think.”

While many believe that a government employee needs to have an extensive political science background to work in a federal position, this is not the case. In fact, the Department of Labor is looking to hire HBCU graduates from an array of specialties and concentrations from political science and economics to business and STEM focuses, women and gender studies, and everything in between.

Government jobs are also favorable as they provide stability and flexibility that can often be difficult to find in the workplace. Federal positions are known to pay fair wages and offer paid sick and vacation times, plus they are flexible with different kinds of schedules. They also provide health and retirement benefits that are often difficult to find in the workforce.

This recruitment is part of one of the White House’s recent initiatives dedicated to advancing opportunities for those attending and affiliated with a Historically Black College or University. The initiative is working closely with the President’s Executive Office on crucial Administration priorities related to advancing educational equity, excellence and economic opportunity through HBCUs. They have partnered with HBCU leaders, representatives, students and alumni.

The Department of Labor’s newest recruitment strategy is also in compliance with the initiative’s three areas of primary focus:

· Programs are embedded, ongoing and longer-term activities singularly owned by the initiative that are generally singularly delivered by the initiative but can be collaboratively delivered with others.

· Projects are finite-duration, discretionary actions, often outside the initiative’s, federal agencies’ or private sector actors’ day-to-day organizational activities; they are designed to accelerate the desired performance in a targeted area. These short-term efforts are generally jointly owned and delivered by the initiative with others and act as boosters to accelerate HBCU competitiveness.

· Policies are influential actors’ written or oral expressions of important public objectives and priorities. These actors can be public sector (e.g., local, state and federal executive/ legislative/agency) or private sector (e.g., industry/philanthropy/education/advocacy).

In adhering to these initiatives, HBCUs hope to provide more opportunities for success for their students and advocation for diversity in every workplace.

To learn more about educational opportunities for HBCU students and graduates, visit sites.ed.gov/whhbcu.

Sources: Department of Education, WTOP News, The White House, Partnership for Public Service (Go Government)

National Scholarship Providers Association Introduces the NSPA Exchange During National Scholarship Month

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graduate students in caps and gowns smiling

National Scholarship Month, sponsored by the National Scholarship Providers Association (NSPA), is a national campaign designed to raise awareness of the vital role scholarships play in reducing student loan debt and expanding access to higher education.

To celebrate, the National Scholarship Providers Association (NSPA) has announced the launch of the NSPA Exchangethe first and only scholarship metric database.

Thanks to a partnership with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the NSPA Exchange was created to serve as a central access point for scholarship provider data. Currently, the database is home to metrics from over 1,300 organizations, allowing members to search details about peer providers by location, compare scholarship award amounts, eligibility criteria, program staff size, and more. All information is kept in a secure, cloud-based, centralized database maintained through a custom administration system.

“Our goal for the NSPA Exchange is to ultimately define best practices and industry standards for scholarship providers.” says Nicolette del Muro, Senior Director, Membership and Strategic Initiatives at NSPA.

“With this database, members now have the data they need to make strategic decisions. For example, of the over 15,000 scholarships in the Exchange database, the average application is open for 90 days. And 75% of these scholarships open in the months of November, December, and January. This offers applicants a relatively short window of time to apply for all scholarships. Insight like this could help a provider determine to open their application outside of the busy season or encourage them to make their scholarship criteria and requirements available online in advance of the application open date.”

“The NSPA Exchange is a great resource for IOScholarships as the information is constantly updated and enables members to review and update their own organization’s scholarship data”, said María Fernanda Trochimezuk, Founder of IOScholarships and Individual Affiliate Member at NSPA. “IOScholarships also uses scholarships from the Exchange in our own Scholarship Search, and we trust these scholarships are safe for students, vetted, and current offerings.

To learn more about this exciting new NSPA initiative click here –  Launching a New Member Service: The NSPA Exchange or visit www.scholarshipproviders.org. For more details on how to sponsor the NSPA Exchange, contact Nicolette del Muro Senior Director, Membership and Strategic Initiatives at ndelmuro@scholarshipproviders.org.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL SCHOLARSHIP PROVIDERS ASSOCIATION (NSPA)

The mission of the National Scholarship Providers Association is to advance the collective impact of scholarship providers and the scholarships they award. Currently serving over 2,000 individuals, they are dedicated to supporting the needs of professionals administering scholarships in colleges and universities, non-profit, foundations and businesses. Membership in the NSPA provides access to networking opportunities, professional development, and scholarship program resources.

ABOUT IOSCHOLARSHIPS

By conducting a free scholarship search at IOScholarships.com, STEM minority and underrepresented students gain access to a database of thousands of STEM scholarships worth over $48 million. We then narrow this vast array of financial aid opportunities down to a manageable list of scholarships for which students actually qualify, based on the information they provide in their IOScholarships.com profile. They can then review their search results, mark their favorites, and sort their list by deadline, dollar amount and other criteria. We also offer a scholarship organizer which is completely free to use, just like our scholarship search. There are scholarships out there for diverse students in STEM. So take advantage of National Scholarship Month and search for available scholarships today!

For more information about IOScholarships visit www.ioscholarships.com

How Black tech entrepreneurs are tackling health care’s race gap

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entrepreneurs photo: (from left) Kevin Dedner founded Hurdle, a mental health startup that pairs patients with therapists. Ashlee Wisdom's company, Health in Her Hue, connects women of color with culturally sensitive medical providers. Nathan Pelzer's Clinify Health analyzes data to help doctors identify at-risk patients in underserved areas. Erica Plybeah's firm, MedHaul, arranges transport to medical appointments.

By Cara Anthony, NPR

When Ashlee Wisdom launched an early version of her health and wellness website, more than 34,000 users — most of them Black — visited the platform in the first two weeks. “It wasn’t the most fully functioning platform,” recalls Wisdom, 31. “It was not sexy.” But the launch was successful. Now, more than a year later, Wisdom’s company, Health in Her Hue, connects Black women and other women of color to culturally sensitive doctors, doulas, nurses and therapists nationally.

As more patients seek culturally competent care — the acknowledgment of a patient’s heritage, beliefs and values during treatment — a new wave of Black tech founders like Wisdom want to help. In the same way Uber Eats and Grubhub revolutionized food delivery, Black tech health startups across the United States want to change how people exercise, how they eat and also how they communicate with doctors.

Inspired by their own experiences, plus those of their parents and grandparents, Black entrepreneurs are launching startups that aim to close the cultural gap in health care with technology — and create profitable businesses at the same time.

Seeing problems and solutions others miss
“One of the most exciting growth opportunities across health innovation is to back underrepresented founders building health companies focusing on underserved markets,” says Unity Stoakes, president and co-founder of StartUp Health, a company headquartered in San Francisco that has invested in a number of health companies led by people of color. He says those leaders have “an essential and powerful understanding of how to solve some of the biggest challenges in health care.”

Platforms created by Black founders for Black people and communities of color continue to blossom because those entrepreneurs often see problems and solutions others might miss. Without diverse voices, entire categories and products simply would not exist in critical areas like health care, experts in business say.

“We’re really speaking to a need,” says Kevin Dedner, 45, founder of the mental health startup Hurdle. “Mission alone is not enough. You have to solve a problem.”

Dedner’s company, headquartered in Washington, D.C., pairs patients with therapists who “honor culture instead of ignoring it,” he says. He started the company three years ago, but more people turned to Hurdle after the killing of George Floyd.

In Memphis, Tenn., Erica Plybeah, 33, is focused on providing transportation. Her company, MedHaul, works with providers and patients to secure low-cost rides to get people to and from their medical appointments. Caregivers, patients or providers fill out a form on MedHaul’s website, then Plybeah’s team helps them schedule a ride.

While MedHaul is for everyone, Plybeah knows people of color, anyone with a low income and residents of rural areas are more likely to face transportation hurdles. She founded the company in 2017 after years of watching her mother take care of her grandmother, who’d had to have both legs amputated because of complications from Type 2 diabetes. They lived in the Mississippi Delta, where transportation options were scarce.

“For years, my family struggled with our transportation because my mom was her primary transporter,” Plybeah says. “Trying to schedule all of her doctor’s appointments around her work schedule was just a nightmare.”

Plybeah’s company recently received funding from Citi, the banking giant.

“I’m more than proud of her,” says Plybeah’s mother, Annie Steele. “Every step amazes me. What she is doing is going to help people for many years to come.”

Click here to read the full article on NPR.

Resources for Beginning Your Self-Employment Journey

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A Black man in a business suit in a job interview

Unemployed, underemployed or just curious? Changing circumstances in the economy may be making self-employment a more intriguing option to consider, and there are plenty of helpful training and information resources to help you explore the possibilities.

a black man sitting at his laptop

Self-employment options

Independent work is a term that describes self-employed, freelance, temporary and “gig” work done by millions of workers in the U.S. It also includes individuals who sell items on e-commerce, vend private residential rental space on online platforms or drive for ride-hailing services. Independent work is an increasingly important means for either a primary or supplemental income in the U.S.

Another form of self-employment involves running a business with a physical location that employs others to make or sell goods or provide services. You might do this by starting your own business, buying a stand-alone existing business or joining a franchise program.

a black man on the train looking at his phone

Free entrepreneurship learning opportunities

Whatever your ideas for a business model, there is a wealth of valuable entrepreneurship learning and business counseling opportunities available. Check out some of these free resources:

Local American Job Centers provide small business skill training, career awareness and counseling and information to help you understand the types of services and products in demand in your local economy.

 

Entrepreneurial Marketing

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): A course designed to help participants develop a flexible way of thinking about marketing problems and understand key marketing concepts, methods and strategic issues relevant for start-up and early-stage entrepreneurs.
  • Money Smart for Small Businesses: This new instructor-led training curriculum developed jointly by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) contains 10 training modules covering key topics for new and aspiring entrepreneurs.
  • Small Business Administration Learning Center: Take free online courses covering how to plan for your successful business startup, launching your business, managing, marketing and growing your business. It also includes an overview for young entrepreneurs.
  • SBA Online Small Business Training: The Small Business Administration offers more than 30 free self-guided online business training courses covering a variety of topics including how to prepare a business plan, franchising basics, government contracting, green business opportunities and more.
  • SCORE entrepreneurship online courses: View all their free courses available, including hiring workers, setting up a physical location, pricing products and services, finding funding and more.

 

Resources for targeted audiences interested in small business

  • Minority Business Development Agency: The U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is the only federal agency solely dedicated to the growth and global competitiveness of minority business enterprises. MBDA programs, services and initiatives focus on helping MBEs grow today, while preparing them to meet the industry needs of tomorrow.
  • Native American Enterprise Initiative: The Native American Enterprise Initiative seeks to build on the U. S. Chamber of Commerce’s record of success and advocacy by focusing on the crucial economic issues confronting tribal business entities and Native American-owned enterprises.
  • Veterans Business Outreach Centers: The Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) program is designed to provide entrepreneurial development services such as business training, counseling and resource partner referrals to transitioning service members, veterans, National Guard & Reserve members and military spouses interested in starting or growing a small business.

 

Source: CareerOneStop

Black Celebrities Fostering Diversity in Business

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Serena WIllaims looking off into the distance as she competes in a tennis match

The celebrities we know and love aren’t jut making strides in their professional fields, but actively making a difference in diversity, equality and excellence.

 

Serena Williams and Nike Create Sportswear for Diversity

Photo Credit: Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

In collaboration with Nike, tennis champion Serena Williams has come out with a collection of women’s athleisure, designed to promote diversity in the world of fashion design. Currently, only 6.3% of US apparel makers identify as Black Americans while about 60% identify as White. To combat this, the collaboration brought together a group of ten new, talented and diverse designers of color to create Williams’ entire line. The clothes were designed to be fashionable, yet functional, for individuals of all backgrounds and body types. “I want people from all walks of life to have the opportounity to be in the room,” Williams told CNN of her collection, “I hope the next generation sees this program and is inspired to get involved.”

Source: CNN

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 13: Shawn Carter attends the Los Angeles Premiere of
(Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Jay-Z Fosters Small, Minority-Owned Businesses and Community Endeavors

Photo Credit: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

About a year ago, successful rapper Jay-Z began using his platform to support minority-owned, cannabis businesses through his partnership with The Parent Company, a social equity corporate venture fund. As the company’s Chief Visionary Officer, Jay-Z has used his position to give out $10 million worth of funding to entrepreneurs of color in the industry, including the first women-owned cannabis dispensary in Los Angeles. According to the Parent Company’s CEO, Troy Datcher, Jay-Z has also expressed his vision to not only foster business success, but to support their local communities. In accordance with this vision, Jay-Z has additionally invested his funds into other black-owned businesses such as technology companies, the food and wine industry and projects centering on the arts.

Source: Benzinga, Wikipedia

SANTA MONICA, CA – JUNE 16: Host Tiffany Haddish attends the 2018 MTV Movie And TV Awards at Barker Hangar on June 16, 2018 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for MTV)

Tiffany Haddish: Creating a More Inclusive Playing Field

Photo Credit: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for MTV)

Tiffany Haddish is more than just an amazing comedian and actress; she is also a businesswoman looking to improve the lives of the community around her. After facing financial struggles for much of her life and early career, Haddish is dedicated to helping those with similar backgrounds make informed financial and business decisions through investing in causes that she cares deeply about. Having grown up moving from foster home to foster home, Haddish founded the She Ready Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to ensuring the safety and well-being of foster children. This not only includes the general well-being of children in these systems, but includes educational, internship and career opportunities through the “She Ready Internship Program.” To take it a step further, Haddish additionally has plans to open a grocery store in South Central Los Angeles with primarily black and minority-owned vendors to provide community needs to lower income areas, provide information on healthy food choices and to circulate money in the black community.

Source: The Hollywodd Reporter, She Ready Internship, Forbes

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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 27: Issa Rae attends the BET Awards 2021 at Microsoft Theater on June 27, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET)

Issa Rae Helps Others Find Black-Owned Businesses

Photo Credit: Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET

In the United States alone, Black-owned businesses makeup $150 billion annually and are sought out by about 44% of all U.S. consumers. In her recent team up with American Express and the U.S. Black Chambers, Issa Rae is committing to helping others have easier access to discovering and shopping from these businesses through ByBlack, the first nationwide certification program for Black business owners. “I think it’s one thing to support them during a very specific time when you feel guilty, but we’re beyond that,” Rae said to Variety of the importance of supporting Black-owned businesses, “To support these businesses year-round, and to know what you’re supporting and actively making an effort to do so, is extremely necessary.” Rae is also an advocate for hiring people of color in the workplace, including her own small businesses and the entertainment industry.

Source: Variety

 

Sean “Diddy” Combs:

Photo Credit: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

Sean “Diddy” Combs has been one of the most influential advocates for business diversity, especially in the last year. Not only does he have extensive experience in founding and investing in businesses across sectors, such as the immensely successful Combs Enterprises, but is constantly working to bring Black-owned businesses into the public eye. In the last year, Combs launched “Endeavour,” a development program for aspiring entertainment executives of diverse backgrounds and “Shop Circulate,” a digital marketplace for Black entrepreneurs. Combs has also gone out of his way to make sure minority-owned businesses are educated and advocated for through the “REVOLT Summit x AT&T,” a conference for black professionals in the entertainment industries to network with one another.

Source: Hollywood Reporter, Deadline, REVOLT, Combs Enterprises

The Future of College Recruitment Depends on Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion

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happy african american college students walking together on campus

By Casey Welch

Over the past year, colleges have struggled to adapt to the challenges presented by COVID-19, between the pressure to move entire degree programs online and the question of how best to connect with potential students in the absence of traditional events like college fairs and campus tours.

The obstacles faced by institutions of higher education have only increased over the years, and even when students can safely return to campus, it’s clear that colleges will be left with a critical, unsolved problem: how to prioritize diversity and inclusion and reflect those values in their recruitment practices.

According to a recent survey, 25% of Gen Zers decided not to apply for a college because they feared being treated unfairly due to their gender, ethnic or racial identity. Many are speaking from personal experience: Over three-quarters of respondents said they had witnessed discrimination in school and over half have experienced it themselves.

Colleges already experiencing a decline in enrollment can course correct through simple adjustments to how they prioritize and reflect the fundamental values of diversity and inclusion in their recruitment practices. This change will have a significant impact, not just on application and enrollment numbers, but on their long-term relevance as institutions of higher education.

Recruiting the next generation of college students, therefore, will require a shift in focus and a strategy that prioritizes a diverse campus culture, where all will feel welcome and appreciated for their differences, instead of ostracized. Recruitment practices are the ideal place for colleges to begin making the importance of diversity and inclusion clear, especially since prospective students are actively looking for the motivation behind initiatives that promote these values, and not just proof of their implementation.
Prioritizing diversity begins by ensuring that college recruiters reflect the background and identity of the students they’re hoping to attract. Almost two-thirds of students indicated that they would be more likely to apply to a college where the recruiter shares their racial or ethnic identity.

The next step toward inclusion is for colleges to be aware of what, exactly, Gen Zers include within that concept. For these future students, diversity and inclusion don’t stop with respect for racial or ethnic differences, they must also include an understanding of the importance of gender pronouns.

The majority of students emphatically agree that recruiters should ask for their preferred gender pronouns, but only a fraction have ever had a recruiter pose that question. Including this question would be a simple change to the existing process, but it’s one notable place where recruiters are missing the mark and missing out on potential candidates.

Colleges that have already undertaken initiatives to increase diversity and inclusion need to communicate the results of those efforts more effectively, such as through statistics and student testimonials that speak to the authentic impact of these changes over time. Respondents also highlighted a few other ways colleges can increase awareness of their dedication to these ideals, including drawing attention to programs or classes that promote diversity and a demonstrated commitment to social justice. Considering how important these criteria are to prospective students, putting in the work to implement these changes will be ineffective in attracting new students if there’s no visibility of their impact.
Simply advertising these changes isn’t enough, however. Colleges should clearly communicate how they plan to continue working toward a more diverse and inclusive environment, as well as why those changes are important. Prospective students are taking a harder look not only at the success of these initiatives, but also the motivation behind their implementation, in their consideration of where to apply.

Changing the look and language of recruitment is an easy switch, but it’s also a powerful one that will have a lasting impact on the future of college enrollment. Gen Z is placing a heavier emphasis on these distinctions than any prior generation, and colleges need to start doing so as well in response.

The next generation of college students is looking for more than an idyllic campus and an exhaustive list of course options; they’re looking for a safe environment that reflects who they are and the future they hope to create. By prioritizing diversity and inclusion and reflecting those values in their recruitment practices, colleges can demonstrate their commitment to actively welcome a diverse community of students and ensure their continued relevance.

How to Apply for Higher Education Careers – Revised Edition

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How to Apply for Higher Education Careers promo

“How to Apply for Higher Education Careers – Revised Edition” is a free ebook for anyone interested in getting a job in higher education.

If you’re starting your career or considering a career change, this ebook dives into what’s needed to apply for higher ed jobs: understanding the difference between a curriculum vitae and a resume, drafting a career-change resume, and checking if your resume can pass the 10-second test. The revised edition includes cover letter writing tips and candid advice from higher ed professionals, including representatives in HR and recruiting.

Download the ebook for strategies to tackle that crucial early step of putting yourself out there to secure your ideal job in higher ed.

Dr. Sandy Womack Jr. – ‘The Prince of Public Education’

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Dr. Sandy Womack headshot

By Santura Pegram

Many people seemingly think the topic of public education in America is less important when compared to other pressing issues of today. However, there is one convincing figure who would respectfully disagree and debate why public education should not be dismissed or devalued. Dr. Sandy Womack Jr., currently an Area (Assistant) Superintendent with the Columbus City School District (which happens to be the largest school system in the State of Ohio), has always been a strategic thinker and advocate for underdogs.

Like most natives of disadvantaged urban neighborhoods, Womack gained an uncanny and often underestimated perspective of the learning process despite being exposed to a frequently challenging, yet character-building environment that private and parochial school systems do not offer. It was in the urban community that he learned a form of mental chemistry (a type of “toughness”) that is often cultivated in helping to define what it means for someone to possess a resilient spirit upon reaching adulthood. Those traits – essentially “chemistry” & “character” – are often heightened when adults, as Womack says, remember that “Exposure changes expectations, but it is the experiences we provide our children with that change their lives.”

No one in life has ever given Sandy Womack Jr. anything.

He has earned everything through those same forms of exposure and experiences he references. First, as a talented high school wrestler who was awarded a college scholarship in wrestling and went on to become a two-time NCAA All-American standout, and then in college classrooms as a knowledge-thirsty student and aspiring educator. Once he stepped away from the sport he excelled at, he fell in love with the infinite possibility of what he could accomplish through advanced education.

To broaden the scope of understanding the level of engagement (and privilege) involved in maintaining the economic stability of members of one ethnic group over others, one does not need to look far beyond the research. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) in Washington, D.C., the overall total number of college graduates awarded doctoral level degrees in 2018-2019 (the latest year’s statistics) reveals there were 187,568 doctoral degrees conferred throughout the U.S. in that year alone. Of that number, 100,880 were awarded to Whites; 19,507 were awarded to Asians; 14,087 were awarded to Blacks; and 13,277 were awarded to Hispanics and/or Latinos. And, out of that 187,568 total who received doctoral degrees in the U.S., only 13,020 total were conferred (awarded) such degrees for the category of education that year. Of that 13,020, Whites made up 6,963; Blacks made up 2,524; Hispanics and/or Latinos made up 1,110; and Asians represented 395 of those overall (education) doctoral degree graduates in 2018-2019.

Such statistics reinforce beliefs like those of noted scholar Richard Rothstein who said it best when he expressed that, “social class differences likely affect the academic performance of children.” In addition, Mr. Rothstein makes a valid argument when he quipped that “good teachers, high expectations, standards, accountability, and inspiration are not enough.” (Class and Schools, 2004). For children in today’s urban school settings to succeed, they need a Dr. Sandy Womack Jr. In a career that has spanned thirty-years in education, Sandy Womack Jr. got his start teaching in the Ohio education system with the Alliance City Schools in Stark County. Then, briefly with the University of Akron-Federal TRIO Programs in Summit County. Next came a teaching position in the Cleveland Metropolitan Schools, and a series of promotions led to becoming the Dean of Students and then an Assistant Principal with the Akron Public Schools. At the age of 29, he became the Head Principal with the Canton City Schools before being offered a series of promotions to become the Director of Curriculum and Development, and then the Director of Principal Leadership and Development with the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District in Cuyahoga County before finally becoming a member of what he considers the best professional team yet – his current administrative position helping to lead the Columbus City School District. The man has literally served in practically every capacity (except a Human Resources and/or Superintendent positions) as an education professional…from teacher to counselor to Assistant Principal to Building Principal to Administrator.

To discover why he is so passionate about public education in America and not only a frequently requested speaker at conferences, organizations, and universities across the country, but a trusted figure of children, parents, and/or guardians alike, you would have to know his path and allow him to pique your curiosity. Equipped with an arsenal of amazing traits and an invaluable skill set, Womack is a classic example of what can evolve (potential-wise) from many, if not most, of the disadvantaged children he has interacted with for many years. In addition to being a best friend-life partner to his equally dynamic wife – Dr. Monica Womack (who earned her Ph.D. and is a behind-the-scenes problem-solver in public education herself), Dr. Sandy Womack Jr. earned his Ed.D. and together they share three razor-sharp daughters. Interestingly, Sandy hails from a background where one of his parents (his late father) was a convicted felon who spent time in prison at one point. A constant reminder that no matter how you start out or where you come from, it’s how you use that experience to transform a person’s own life and that of other people that matters. It has been that factor, along with growing up watching his mother sacrifice and juggle to make things happen, which has enabled Sandy Womack Jr. to resonate with and relate to countless children, parents, and/or guardians of diverse backgrounds like few educators or administrators have or do.

When asked what he believes are the three most critical concerns affecting education in urban school settings throughout America, Womack is quick to reveal, “the proverbial lack of proper funding issue, the expectation issue (of the people who work directly with urban school children), and the lack of collective community-wrap-around-support issue.” To many students, parents, and fellow educators across the nation, Dr. Sandy Womack Jr. is not only the epitome of a dynamic teacher-education administrator, but he’s also another “inner-city success story.” Understandably, this overachiever still has his heart set on attaining his biggest goal yet as an educator-administrator, which (according to him) is to “become the #1 influencer of African American children in public schools in the world!”

*Santura Pegram (santura.pegram@yahoo.com) is a freelance writer and socially conscious business professional who has helped to advise small businesses; nonprofit organizations; city, county, and state governmental committees; elected officials; professional athletes; and school systems. He was a one-time protégé-aide to the “Political Matriarch of the State of Florida” – the late Honorable M. Athalie Range.

This Afro-Latina Wants To Empower Women With Crypto Education

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man with hand and money in his pocket. Crypto

By BeLatina

As the world becomes more digital, and with the metaverse just around the corner, educating and empowering our communities about access to new resources is vital.

But what happens when the language is convoluted and leaves out minorities?

Enter Marimer Cruz.

This Afro-Latina has written a book to break crypto down and make it accessible to everyone. “Crypto Simplified” is a step-by-step how-to manual that includes videos to start investing in the cryptocurrency world in an easy, quick, and safe way.

According to the author’s press release, the book s a layman’s explanation of the world of cryptocurrencies, how to buy your first crypto, and make money after implementation. Cruz explains what novices need to know about this complicated and rapidly evolving market.

For Marimer Cruz, the feeling of being overwhelmed by the financial jargon is common for all Latinos, especially those from poor backgrounds.

A graduate of TAMUCT and BAYLOR University’s Master’s degree, Cruz grew up amid poverty, abuse, and struggling with systemic lupus.

The Texas-based Puerto Rican experienced firsthand the linguistic and information democratization obstacles when she took her first steps in the world of cryptocurrency.

“I remember how scared I was of sending money from one exchange to another, thinking I will lose it all,” she says.

Now, with “Crypto Simplified,” Cruz wants to change the landscape.

“I remember how alone it feels being one of the few women minority full-time educators and bot traders in the USA,” she admits.

Cruz learned directly from grid bot trading experts and has leveraged her seven years as a super affiliate to help others safely embark on crypto. “Crypto is my passion, and there is nothing like it,” Cruz says, “and I will be spreading the crypto gospel in the Anglo and Spanish markets for years to come!”

Click here to read the full article on BeLatina.

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