Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Spelman & Michele Obama: Worth the 4-Year Wait

I was floored when I found out Michelle Obama was going to be the 2011 commencement speaker at Spelman College. After I picked myself up, I realized that I was going to be a part of this momentous event thanks to my position as the college's associate director of publications in the Office of Communications.

My first contribution is telling the amazing behind-the-scenes story of how the Spelman community initiated an all-hands-on-deck campaign nearly four years ago to engage the first African American first lady. The captivating video invitation the students spearheaded may have made the difference:

My journey at Spelman continues to be such a rewarding adventure. I had no idea how much working in this environment would feed all of the passions I've discovered and explored over my career. From academia to activism and countless forms of cultural expression, I find I am often overwhelmed with the never-ending opportunities for intellectual stimulation. And on the real - having my mind blown just makes me happy - giddy, as a matter of fact. Plus, I've developed some wonderful relationships with powerful women, including the impressive students who continually inspire me with their commitment to service, justice and excellence in their strategic pursuits to be world changers.

Below are some links to several of the recent articles I've written recently in Inside Spelman, the digital publication that I edit at the college. I hope that you have some place you attend regularly that provides you with whatever it is that makes you happy.

This beautiful young woman is my fabulous mentee, Alexis Carter, a junior at Spelman majoring in International Studies, with a minor in Chinese. She speaks Mandarin Chinese and Spanish, has traveled to China, Belize and London in the last year, completes at least 140 hours of community service per semester as a Bonner Scholar, and was an East Asia and Pacific Diplomacy Intern in the U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Information Program last summer. I fully expect to have a close personal relationship with Ambassador Carter in the not too distant future! <!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE

Keep some inspiring young people in your life. And keep Enjoyceinglife!

That's charismatic author and publisher Tina McElroy Ansa, y'all. This Spelman alumna was so inspired by artist Varnette Honeywood when they were undergraduates together that she vowed when she wrote her first book Honeywood would illustrate her cover. All of Ansa's books have featured original paintings by Honeywood.

What is most interesting to me about Spelman's launch of a social justice program is the initiative's focus on the aged and the youth: "The nonprofit sector leadership development program in social policy advocacy is designed to create opportunities for 10 rising juniors to explore how social policy responds to the critical needs – education, economic and personal security, and health and wellness – of the aged and the youth."

Students Make a World of Difference on Service Trips

Spelman women engaged in community service during their spring break, from working with the elderly and underprivileged families in Birmingham, Ala., to conducting workshops about public speaking and self esteem to young girls in Belize and volunteering with the AIDS Project Los Angeles.

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