I was born and raised in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. I grew up in what today could be considered a blended family, but we never really called it that. I identify as a Black woman with Jamaican and African ancestry. I was born in America to Jamaican parents so my identity (and worldview) has been informed by multiple histories and cultures. Ackee and saltfish, Marcus Garvey and Luciano were as vital to my upbringing, as soul food, Zora Neale Hurston and Satchmo were.
In 2011, I graduated from Bennett College, an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) in North Carolina. I graduated from Columbia School of Social Work, an ivy league institution, in NYC in 2020, during a global pandemic. I am currently working as an adjunct professor for an education and justice course. I do plan to pursue a doctoral degree.
I have always valued supporting people. I am certain that I got that from my parents. Pursuing my social work degree was an inevitable next step in my career. After eight years in the field, I realized that I wanted to learn more about evidence-based tools for impacting systems, communities and individuals. Social work is a special discipline that allowed me to get trained at the micro, mezzo and macro levels. It is also rooted in strengths-based and person-in-environment perspectives. Those frameworks were a natural fit for my counseling and professional styles.
Currently, I am an adjunct professor within the CUNY (City University of New York) system. My education and social justice course incorporates wellness practices. Those three areas have played major roles in my personal and career journey. Over the past ten years, I have served historically marginalized communities including Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), LGBTQIA+, low-income, first-generation students and first-generation immigrants. My roles have included college and career advisor, volunteer manager, director, teacher, counselor, school social work intern and facilitator/trainer. I have had the pleasure of working in public, nonprofit, K-12 education and higher education settings. In these spaces, I have led social justice workshops, taught social emotional learning classes, led counseling groups, facilitated restorative circles, provided mental health care and curated healing spaces.
Black people receive a unique form of oppression and discrimination in this country. Anti-Black racism is a pervasive force in our society. It invades systems, communities and families. It produces division, pain and generational trauma. As a community, Black people pride ourselves on our resilience and grit. However, this standard of strength has caused stigma, burnout and silence. We deserve more. We deserve to be whole, healed and well. Helping Black people means helping myself because the Black community is my community. In the words of Issa Rae, “I am rooting for everybody Black.”
Supporting the uplifting of the Black community is so personal for me because I have experienced racism in both systemic and interpersonal manners. My pivotal experience with interpersonal racism happened when I lived in Berkeley, California. It started off as microaggressions and manifested into overt racism. I was 21 and it rocked my world. It was my coworkers and community members. Before that moment, I experienced and witnessed colorism, internalized oppression, microaggressions and institutional racism, but that experience in Cali felt different. I wish I knew then, what I know now. I did not have the words to explain what I was experiencing. This is why language and social justice tools have become so important to me. I feared being the “angry Black woman” or the “aggressive New Yorker”. I wish the other BIPOC folx would have been more aware of the microaggressions they were also experiencing. I wish I made it very clear that I was leaving the position due to the racism that I encountered. Nowadays, my reaction is much more intentional and it always leaves me feeling empowered because I refuse to be silent again.
My clinical approach is dependent on the client’s unique needs. Generally, I incorporate components from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Affirmation-Based Therapy, Play Therapy, Drama Therapy, Solution-Based Therapy, Person-Centered Therapy, Motivational Interviewing and Narrative Therapy. I approach wellness in a holistic fashion. It’s really about connecting the body, mind and spirit for me so mindfulness is a key part of my practice.
My clients tend to be vocal so I’ve definitely gotten their feedback. I have been told that I am empathic, transparent, relatable, inclusive, nonjudgmental, authentic, caring and helpful. I’m also referred to as “the plug” because I have resources for days. Some clients have referenced that working with me is like having an accountability partner that makes them feel affirmed, seen and capable.
I own a coaching and consulting business that supports teens and adults in achieving their college, career and wellness goals. As I mentioned before, I truly approach my work in a holistic manner. Whether I am leading a workshop on mental health for college students, training on vicarious trauma with mental health professionals or providing one-on-one career coaching, I walk away feeling fulfilled.