My Coach and My MBA Saved Me

I have an MBA, a Masters in Business Administration from Delaware State University.  I graduated in May of 2000.  It’s fMy Experience copy_blogunny how I have to sometimes be reminded of the accomplishment and what it stands for in my career trajectory.

I remember graduation day because it rained and the schools back-up plan was to hold the ceremony in the gym. Which meant that it went from unlimited seating to, you can only have two people attend the ceremony. It was not a good look, ten members of my family drove seven hours on I-95 North from North Carolina for only my mother and father to see me walk across the stage. Everyone was disappointed and some dealt with it pretty well. I won’t talk about the other ones. I still love them though.

I remember when I decided to get my MBA. I was on the softball field working out with my coach. I was in my final semester and I had one class that conflicted with practice. Coach agreed to meet me early in the morning on the days I had class to make sure I got my workout in.  It was nice, because I got some extra time with her and it had a different feel from it than regular practice. We could engage in conversation as she was torching me. Unlike regular practice when I spent most of the time talking to and encouraging my teammates.

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2017 Homecoming (l.r. Tosha Woodard, Jane Hicks (Coach), and Sharon Nyree Williams

On this particular morning I started sharing with her that I didn’t know what I was going to do after graduation. You see, when I was preparing to go to college they always told me that it would probably take five years for me to complete the program. In the back of mind I kind of depended on it but somehow I ended up finishing in four years. You know how, you know something is coming, but it’s not until it gets close that you realize that it is really going to happen. Well that’s what happened to me. I woke up one day and was like “Aw hell this is going to happen. What the f*** I am graduating?” My major was in Television Productions, so the ideal situation would be for me to get a job at a television station like I had done for my internship. When I started looking for jobs the salaries were really low. I remember trying to figure out how I could be independent on what I would possibly be making.

I’m gonna be honest as graduation approached at what seemed like a rapid pace, this Black chick freaked out. I didn’t know what I was going to do. Where was I going to live? Who was I going to work for? I remember wanting someone to come and tap me on the shoulder and say, “Sharon this is what’s next…”. Up until this point the plan had been laid out for me on what I needed to do. They told me to go to elementary school, then to junior high (now called middle school), high school and then to college. All of that was mapped out for me, but now nobody was going to tell me what was next. Are you for real? Man, I was trippin’.

I soon learned I wasn’t the only one concerned. One of my classmates was trying to figure out her next steps as well. So much so, that she convinced me that we should join the military. She had learned that with degrees we could enter at a high level and make some pretty good money. I was intrigued and went with her to the Air Force recruiting office right across the street from the university. We figured we couldn’t do the Army and we liked water but the Marines wouldn’t work either. I can’t remember much from our visit to the recruiting office but I do know that as soon as we walked out the door we knew that the Air Force was not an option.

Coach was on the pitcher’s mound behind the pitching machine and I was in the batters box. In between pitches, I was telling her my dilemma. I remember saying to her,”Who in this day and age graduates in four years? Coach I was supposed to be here for at least five. I can’t believe I did this to myself.” I told her camera operators were making around $16k-$20k, and I didn’t know how I could live off of that. I really wanted to work in my field so at the time I didn’t even know what alternatives to consider. I felt, I couldn’t go home an unemployed college graduate. That’s wouldn’t be ideal for anyone. I didn’t even want to consider working a job outside of my major. What the heck would that be? Coach was trying to give me some suggestions and I just felt even more pressure in trying to figure it out. It was too much. I was overwhelmed.

When I told her I had went over to the Air Force recruiting office. She stopped pitching and said, “No, you are not going in the military”. Then she said, “Baby Girl, why don’t you stay and be my graduate coaching assistant and work on getting your masters? The athletic department would help pay for your classes.” I took the bat off my shoulder and said, “Are you for real Coach? I could stay here, help you coach and get a Master’s Degree?” She reassured me and I didn’t think twice and said, “Yes, let’s do it.” She started back pitching but I remember after every pitch, I asked her to confirm what she had offered me. Finally we just had to stop practicing and I agreed to go and figure out what I needed to do to enroll. At this point this option allowed me an opportunity to delay entering the real world. And I was down for that….

After graduation in May of 1997, I handed my degree to my Mom, followed her and everyone to the hotel, said goodbye while taking some graduation celebration/going away pictures. They got back on the road and I went to the dorm. I then moved my stuff from one side of the dorm to the other side by myself. The next day I started taking my Business Administration prerequisites in summer school. I hadn’t taken any business courses for my undergraduate degree so I had quite a few I needed to pass before I could start my master classes. I’m going to be honest, there was nothing easy about entering the world of business. I started studying Television Productions in high school, that was my passion. It came somewhat naturally to me learning new things were exciting. But this new world, I had to buckle down, focus and force myself to learn the business principles. It was anything but easy.

I think that’s why I don’t talk about having my MBA that much. Not because it wasn’t a major accomplishment, but I think because I was so young and desperate when I got it. I prolonged having to grow up and face the real world. The pursuit of it wasn’t because I wanted it and I had planned this as my logical next step but I went after it because I was desperate, confused and scared as hell.

I must admit, although it wasn’t the original plan. For me it has turned out to be one of the best things I have done for my career. When I couldn’t find my way in the world of Television Productions my MBA saved me. When I realized as a Black woman I needed to know how to not only be an artist but produce my own work. My MBA carried me. When I think something is to hard and I don’t feel like I can wrap my head around it. My MBA reminds me that I am capable of all things. Yeah, I may not talk about it or highlight it a lot, but make no mistake. My MBA is forever a part of me.

My name is Sharon Nyree Williams and I have a MBA.

This piece was inspired by a conversation with one of my mentors Ms. Vivian, when she said with a little power behind it, “You have a MBA!”

I dedicate this piece to my nieces Karess and Elia. Karess just graduated from Fayetteville State University and will be starting her masters program soon. Elia, has just decided to go back to school. #proudauntie

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2017 Elia Valentine, Karess Williams, and Sharon Nyree Williams
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My Coach and My MBA Saved Me

You Are Worthy…

SNW Painting DO
DO by Sharon Nyree Williams 2009

How many times have you thought to yourself that you weren’t worthy? How many times have you questioned the good things that have happened in your life? How many times have you been given an opportunity and questioned why you were selected? How many times have you cried because you thought you weren’t good enough? Or better yet, how many times have you been in a room with people and you thought because of their credentials that they were better or even smarter than you? How many times have you tried something and it didn’t go quiet right, so you wanted to give up? How many times have you just doubted yourself and everything around you? Or how about decided in your own mind that you didn’t deserve anything better than what you already have? How many times have you questioned what you believe is your purpose? How many times have you shot down your dreams or even allowed other people to make you feel as though your dreams can’t/won’t come true? How many times have you self sabotaged?

Self doubt is the biggest dream killer. The difference between one person from another is doing the work and following through and not being afraid to fail. But most importantly believing in yourself. I know it’s cliche and you’ve heard it before. So your saying blah…blah…blah...or whatever Sharon and I get that. Believe you me it’s a battle I fight every day, on the good days and the bad days. But we have to stick together and constantly remind each other that we are worthy. Yes, your dreams sound crazy to everyone you share them with. Yes, those who have decided to not follow their dreams for whatever reason will think that you need to give up that hobby and stop playing around. Yes, those who have tried once, failed and quit will tell you it’s not worth it and encourage you to leave it alone and move on.

Bottom line is it’s up to you on what you want to do. You can continue to doubt yourself and quit or never try to follow your dreams. That’s your prerogative. You can do what you wanna do. Sorry, I just had to have a little Bobby Brown moment.

Seriously, for some people following their dreams was a no brainer. For some following their dreams and achieving a high level of what we think is success is a blessing. For people who are like me it’s an everyday struggle of fighting my own self doubt. Even when I have accomplished something that will move me one step closer to achieving my dreams. I find myself questioning am I good enough, will I ever get better, do I need to make a choice between being an artist and an arts administrator, is this next project just a pipe dream, did I make the best decision for the organization, should I do this or should I do that, why did I do that rather than this, I can’t believe I said that out loud…..ugh.

It get’s old and tired, but I swear every time I’m going through it. It seems like the first time all over again. I have to constantly remind myself that I am my own worst enemy. I understand everyone isn’t going to always believe in me. But I pray that with each challenge and each moment of doubt that I can pull myself together and continue to believe in myself. That I will continue to believe in my purpose and my dreams. I can’t settle for not at least trying to make my dreams come true. I recognize it’s a struggle but I rather be standing in the shower crying because it’s hard work. Rather than standing their crying and mad at myself because I never tried.

I pray and hope you do what’s right for you, but for the record I believe in you.

DREAM SHARON DREAM!!!!
DREAM _________________ DREAM!!!

This post was inspired by the television program THE PROFIT staring Marcus Lemonis on CNBC, Season 5 – Episode 5 – Mr. Cory’s Cookies. Click here for a story about Mr. Cory’s Cookies and the show.  

You Are Worthy…

Kneeling is Disrespectful?

With all the talk about kneeling during the national anthem, I couldn’t help but think, at what point did kneeling become a bad thing? When I think of kneeling I think of a form of submission and vulnerability. As I drove into work this morning, I tried to think of a time when I saw someone kneel and I thought it was disrespectful.

Here’s what flowed through my head:

When I played football. Yes, I was a member of the first woman’s full contact football team in Seattle, the Seattle Warbirds. I remember when one of our teammates got hurt, and as we watched the paramedics take care her off the field our team and our opponents all took a knee. Soooo disrespectful…

Image result for football kneels for injured playerI remember when my friend who I met playing football. Invited me to come to church with her on Ash Wednesday. I had never been to a catholic church before. Once we selected a pew to sit in, I remember almost tripping over her because she kneeled at the end of the pew as she used her hand to signal the cross over her body. That was disrespectful…and in the church.

Kneeling in Church

I remember the countless times on any of the sports teams that I was on, when the coach asked us to “Take a Knee” or “Huddle up”. Coach I’m sorry you made me do it. Disrespectful.

DBSH volleyball

I remember a time when Tim Tebow was one of the most notable football figures because he kneeled during football games. He said it was to honor God, but who would do that by kneeling? Disrespectful…WWJD

I think of all of the civil rights photos of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and all of our civil rights leaders kneeling on the steps of courthouses. Kneeling during protest marches. Kneeling in hopes that they wouldn’t get beaten, hosed down, or disrespected in some kind of way. Oh, they were definitely…Disrespectful.

MLK

I could see the image of Queen Elizabeth knighting individuals in England and all of them kneeling for the honor. Nobody kneels before the Queen…Disrespectful.

QE Knighted

I think of how many times I’ve seen a man proposing to a women and everyone waits in anticipation of him dropping down to one knee. That’s kneeling…So technically your fiance’ was an asshole. Disrespectful.

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I remember the times in which I’ve seen people give themselves up to the police and in doing so they drop to their knees and lift there hands in the air. Well this is flawed because we’ve seen them get shot any way. It’s definitely…Disrespectful.

civil rights kids kneeling.jpgI think back to when I spent the night with my grandmother and she made me get out of bed to kneel beside her to pray. Who does that…Disrespectful.

I’ve wanted to kneel several times for my elders out of respect. Disrespectful.

At what point did kneeling becoming offensive?

What? Wait? What did you say?

Kneeling became offensive when a Black man kneeled to bring attention to the injustices of Black people in America.

colin

Oh I get it now; it’s offensive because you made up this entire thing that kneeling is no longer a sign of submission, vulnerability, love, respect, concern, prayer, etc. But it’s offensive because you know longer believe in kneeling for any of those things and it’s disrespectful because you believe the United States is flawless. And by know means, god forbid a man and definitely not a Black man has the constitutional right to call out the continued injustices towards Black people. Because Lord knows you’re not racist and you do have one Black friend and instead of this movement being about a specific social issue, you had to make it about you.

Wow, you make me really proud to say, I’m happy that I’m not watching football this season (#nflboycott). Because god-forbid that we have any commonalities, when you can’t wrap your little brain around what kneeling truly signifies.

Is it really about the flag, the veterans or whatever else you want to make it about? Or is it that a BLACK man refused to stay in his place? You know that corner that you love to put BLACK people in and you dare them to speak, especially when they are telling the TRUTH.

 

 

Kneeling is Disrespectful?

What Do You Say…

What do you say to the cousin who has loss their cousin
What do you say to a person who’s family member was killed
What do you say to the cousin who has loss their best friend
What do you say to the grandfather who has loss their granddaughter
What do you say to the aunt who has loss their nephew
What do you say to the sister who has loss her brother
What do you say to the uncle who has loss their niece
What do you say to the grandmother who has loss their grandson

What do you say to the nephew who has loss their auntie
What do you say to the brother who has loss their lil brother
What do you say to the mom who has loss their son
What do you say to the daughter who has loss her father
What do you say

It’s gonna be alright
He’s in a better place
She’s in a better place
The cops is going to get them
This to shall pass
You’re gonna be alright
It’s all in God’s plan
It happened for a reason
They lived a very long life
Gone too soon
She’s with them now
In do time
What a great celebration of life
Take the time to grieve
Gone but not forgotten
He would have enjoyed that
She would have loved that
Be grateful for the time we did have
May she
May he
Rest in Peace
Bless their heart

One of my favorite college professors, Dr. Damu Kenyjatta once said, “When it’s your time, it’s your time.” We were sitting in the theatre and he was giving us one of his many wisdom sessions. He blew my mind with that one, “When it’s your time, it’s your time.” I remember thinking to myself, “Damn he’s deep”. Now I know some of the best wisdom is pure logic. Believe you me he said much deeper stuff than that.

But what he didn’t say was, although it’s their time. It doesn’t mean it won’t hurt any less or that it will even make sense.

Lord, I don’t get it. I’m sitting here trying to wrap my head around it and it doesn’t make sense. I don’t know what I’m suppose to do. I don’t know how I’m suppose to respond. I don’t know what I have done or what my family has done to have to go through this again.

Hell I don’t know if I understand anything. My family’s situation is first and foremost because their the closes to me. But, at the same time, I don’t know why the world is going through so much pain, from natural disasters, to shootings, health scares, fires, etc..etc…etc. You name it, it has happened and is happening. I’m all about feeling, but right now the only feeling that is consistent is pain.

I can hear the elders say, “He will never put more on you, than you can handle.”
Bull crap.

Every time, I think I’m going through something tough. You remind me that some body else has it worse. But my pain is real dear God and I don’t know how to make everything better. It seems like the norm is pain. Pain on top of pain. Pain greater than any one man, woman, or child can take. Lord I don’t know….

I don’t know how to be strong. I don’t want to be strong. I want to stand tall, stretch my arms out to my sides as far as they can go, lay my head back and yell at the top of my lungs, THIS IS FUCKED UP GOD! THIS IS SO FUCKED UP! and then scream until I run out of breath.

Out of respect, I’m not going to do that. Instead I’m going to wash this wine glass. Climb into my bed and cry until the tears stop flowing. Then remind myself that the only thing I have left to give to my family and to the world is love. Because lord knows, I have nothing else to give. Know matter what the cause was, it’s never gonna be okay. I don’t get it. I will never understand it and all I want to do is hug my family.

The answers may never come and the pain may never go away. What do you say to a person who’s heart is broken and joy won’t come in the morning?

R.I.P Peace Cuz

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My favorite recent pic of my cousin Maria. Saturday July 29, 2017 – Ms. Helen and Maria                   Maria passed away September 13, 2017
What Do You Say…

Where Are We Going

What’s up
Heading to the store
Is that right
That’s right
What are you getting at the store
I ain’t decided yet
So why are you going to the store
Because I want something
So you’re going to the store and you don’t even know what you want
That’s right
That gots to be the dumbest thing. I ever heard
You calling me dumb
I didn’t call you dumb
It’s the dumbest thing I ever heard
So I’m dumb
I didn’t say that
Then what did you say
What are you going to the store for
I don’t know, maybe some skittles
Everybody likes skittles
Taste the rainbow
What the Rainbow Coalition
Huh
Al Sharpton’s Rainbow Coalition
What, I said Skittles
For Al Sharpton
What
The Rainbow Coalition
Al Sharpton isn’t the Rainbow Coalition…
Yes he is
No that’s Jesse Jackson
Yeah the Jackson’s were like rainbows
What
Remember the rainbow from the carton
The Jackson Five
Yeah the bell-bottoms

Hey where ya’ll going
To the store
What ya’ll getting
The Jackson Five, Rainbow Coalition, and Jesse Skittles
I like Skittles, Jackson Five gonna be at the store
Rainbow Coalition
Why ya’ll walking so fast
To get Jesse
I thought you were going to the store
I am
We are
For what
To get skittles
And to see Al Sharpton Skittles Jesse Jackson Five
Everybody likes them
Especially the skittles
It’s a rainbow
What?

You Going
To the store

This was an excerpt from my short play End of the Rainbow. It was written and performed in 2012.  

 

 

Where Are We Going

Self Inflicted Stress

The last couple of days, I’ve been dealing with family stress. It’s not my families fault. You may say I brought it on myself. Over the last three weeks we had two deaths in our family. My amazing Aunt Beulah passed away at the age of 93 and two weeks later her brother, my uncle Joel Jackson passed away at the age of 94. At first glance, you may be saying, wow they lived very long lives. However, the next point is that this means my grandmother Ms. Helen has no living siblings. But then if you dig in a a little deeper then you will say, well she is the baby of the family, so everything appears to be in it’s natural order. That’s how I can deal with it on paper. Reality seems to have beaten me up in a different way.

Joelbackright(l.to.r) Aunt Marie, Uncle Dool, Auntie (Ola Mae), Joel, and Ms. Helen (my grandmother)
(seated) Myrtle Gillard (not pictured Aunt Beulah)

I live in Seattle, Washington and my family lives in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Although, I’ve lived in Seattle for seventeen years; instantly when I hear of a death or someone being sick in the family my first response is to try and go home. Sometimes it works out but most of the times it doesn’t. Despite not being there I always seem to try and find a way to be connected to what is happening. For my Aunt Beulah, I was able to write a piece about her that my niece read during her service. (That was dope.) For my Uncle Joel my sister asked me to send pictures of him that they could use for the bulletin/program. This is what stressed me out.

You see, I have a massive collection of family photos. I’m pretty proud of my collection. I knew I had this one particular picture of Joel but I wasn’t sure if I had to many more. But yet and still, I was happy to go through my collection. As I’m going through the collection, of course I’m finding pictures of everyone else. Therefore, I spend some of the time, taking pictures of the pictures to text to my family. To remind them of some of the moments from the past. About mid-way through my collection, I began to get nervous. I started to feel like I didn’t have any pictures of my uncle, but at the same time I knew there was at least one picture with his hands up. Because he didn’t want me to take his picture.

It happened, I went through the entire collection and all I had found was one group photo and nothing of Joel by himself. I became real sensitive to the situation. Why don’t I have any pictures of him? I know he didn’t like me taking pictures of him, but I still should have at least one? Am I missing some pictures? Let me think, did I move some pictures to another part of the house? What am I going to tell my family? I can’t believe I don’t have any pictures. The stress was building…

I decided to go to bed, and pick up the search the next day, when my mind was clear. I got home from work, cooked dinner, took a shower, ate dinner and began searching for pictures of him again. I remembered that I did have a folder of pics that I had pulled out for a documentary project. I found the folder went through it and I found a couple more group pics, but nothing of him by himself. I sat on my bed and had moments where I would cry just a little bit, because I was going to let down my family. How could I not have any pictures? I’m a failure.

More importantly, where was the one picture that I knew I had? Why can’t I find it? I sat there for a while and then I decided to go and check in another room. In a matter of minutes I found the picture with his hands up. I questioned why I had moved the pic but now it was like a precious piece of gold. I held it to my chest. I instantly felt the weight lifted from my heart.

Joel handsup

I don’t even think my family would be able to use it for the service, but that didn’t even matter anymore. I have a picture of my uncle Joel and that’s all I care about.

No more stress…RIP JOEL

Me and Joel
Me and Joel (2014 I think)
Self Inflicted Stress