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Fear, Travel, Single-motherhood, and the Pursuit of Greatness

There was a time when I truly believed being a good mother meant I had to give up on dreams I didn’t accomplish before child. I did not plan to pursue a PhD. Most people who know me know that my life revolves around my daughter. One day around 2013, there was a flyer for students to study Afro- Brazilian culture in Brazil. I love Black studies everywhere. I wanted to go so bad. Unfortunately, I was a single mom and that meant to me if I had taken the traditional school route maybe then it would have been possible for me to have such an experience. The statistics were against me. So I said that to my master’s advisor Dr. R. She said, talk to Dr. Hordge-Freeman, she is a young professor and mom. Maybe you can take your daughter. I emailed Dr. H-F and she soon met with my 9 year old and me. Dr. H-F was amazing! Like seriously, she is all that. She said I could bring Anaiah. Then she began to design a summer program in Brazil with my daughter in mind with dance and language immersion. Oh it was fabulous. I registered for a class Dr. H-F was teaching on Afro-Brazilian culture to prepare for the trip. The class was rigorous, I learned so much. It was the last semester of coursework for my masters but it was at that point in the matrix it all made sense. I thought maybe I’d pursue a PhD. I could not believe what I was becoming. Anyway, paranoia kicked in with a vengeance. I did not think I was deserving or smart enough. I did not know Portuguese. I could not be that far from family. Every week for the next 4 months I provided Dr. H-F a solid excuse for why I would not be able travel to Brazil. Like any good leader she calmed every fear with encouragement. My daughter decided not to go. She had goals she believed more important. Anaiah remembers the excitement only to change her mind. We love Dr. H-F! Fast forward to 2022 Anaiah spots Dr. H-F at the Black leadership soiree and could barely contain herself. Then Anaiah crosses the stage as one of the scholars and Dr. H-F’s face lights up. This picture is GROWTH! Dr. Hordge-Freeman, Sr. Advisor to the President and Provost for Diversity and Inclusion at USF, Anaiah, a first-year college sophomore, and the newly minted Dr. Armstrong. If I can do it, you can do it.

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