I’m still trying to make sense of how I was selected among other talented students to interview the first black President of the United States. ESPN’s The Undefeated hosted a forum at North Carolina Agricultural State University. The forum was titled: A Conversation with President Barack Obama: Sports, Culture, Race and Achievement. Here is the story and key takeaways I learned from my 5 minutes of fame.
1. If you aren’t taking opportunities that don’t scare you, you won’t be able to grow to your full potential
I knew that I could possibly be on TV one day given that it is my major. Maybe 5 to 10 years down the line but when it was finalized I was going to be asking President Obama a question on national television my senior year, I was a nervous wreck! As they called my name up to the mic, my heart was pounding. Thankfully, our lovely POTUS talked for a while, so it gave me time to get my nerves together. This opportunity has boosted my confidence that no dream or goal is high. Now I understand what people mean when they say seek to follow God’s will because you cannot imagine the plans that he has for you.
2. Relationships are everything + You are always being evaluated
A girl I looked up to since my freshmen year graduated and went on to work for ESPN. She was ALWAYS making big moves, beautiful and had great hair. She’s going to be the youngest female filmmaker to win an award. We hung out a few, but the biggest thing is she recognized my worth ethic and we had a mutual respect for each other. We hung out in professional and relaxed environments. I was always myself but check this, I’m a genuinely nice person. She saw my true colors and put in a good word for me to be considered as one of the students to ask a question. This is why developing relationships are important but also being prepared for opportunities that may come. I have a bio ready in case I need to send it to someone, I’m always updating my resume and everywhere I go, I carry my portfolio with all of my work and copies of resumes. To conclude, people recognize your hustle and hard work.
3. Go with your gut
We were asked to come up with some questions to ask the POTUS. I thought of some questions pertaining to his goals after leaving office and then was told to ask a question about overcoming challenges. Since I was told to ask this question, I thought about talking about I challenge I overcame. I asked a close family member if I should talk about being a young mother and wife and she told me she didn’t think it was relevant. This is someone who I trust blindly and I know she wants the best for me. I respect her opinion so I went with her advice and just asked a simple question. Although I was going to go with her advice, there was still something inside me that wanted to talk about my experience. I don’t talk about mom being a lot at all but if I do, I make sure it is the appropriate culture and I read the room. Fast forward, the director of the show gave me a call and wanted to know what I was going to ask. I told them I was going to ask advice on overcoming challenges. They didn’t think it was compelling so I proposed the idea of talking about a challenge I overcame and they loved it! They wanted me to ask the POTUS advice about balancing professional achievement and family. They even encouraged me to state my daughter’s name! Although my family member meant well, I’m glad that I went with my gut and had the opportunity to ask a question that he does not hear often. Now I can tell my daughter Lola that the POTUS wanted to meet her! (Click here to watch my question and start at 12 minutes.)
4. Do what’s best for you and not what others expect of you
My senior year of high school I went through depression because I had decided to attend a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) and many people were shocked that I wasn’t going to the top schools like UNC Chapel Hill, NC State, Wake Forest, etc. I let the negative stereotype of HBCU’s get in my head and wanted to go where everyone would expect me to be. If I would have never attended A&T, I’m pretty sure I would not have been able to interview the POTUS on national television. The HBCU life is for me and YES, you can get a job straight out of college!
These are the lessons I learned from interviewing the POTUS. I’m not in greek life or student government association. I’m just a normal girl trying to spread light and inspire others to choose Christ because without him, none of this would be possible.
Comment a time you jumped outside of your comfort zone! What was the result?