FAU National Council of Negro Women panel aims to inspire members

A Q&A took place with the all-female panel.

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FAU National Council of Negro Women panel aims to inspire members

The FAU chapter of the National Council of Negro Women pose with panel members. Destiny Harris | Contributing Writer

The FAU chapter of the National Council of Negro Women pose with panel members. Destiny Harris | Contributing Writer

The FAU chapter of the National Council of Negro Women pose with panel members. Destiny Harris | Contributing Writer

The FAU chapter of the National Council of Negro Women pose with panel members. Destiny Harris | Contributing Writer

Destiny Harris, Contributing Writer

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A panel of seven successful women from around the state participated in a Q&A session with the FAU National Council of Negro Women last week to encourage young black women to pursue their passions.

NCNW membership chairperson Tabitha Hadley gave a brief summary of each panelist’s career and proceeded to play a video called, “10 moments Black people in the workplace know too well.” Held in the Majestic Palm Room, the March 22 event had 50 or so students in attendance.

Following the video, Hadley asked the panel the following questions:

Q1: Why did you choose your career?

Law office owner and family law/criminal defense practitioner Valerie Small Williams explained how she always felt like something was missing, after teaching in Broward county for five years.

She went back to school and earned her Doctor of Jurisprudence degree in law from Florida A&M university in 1997 and soon began her legal career as an assistant public defender in the Broward county.

Williams said her father was a big influence in her decision to change careers. At the time, she had a 3-year-old son and a daughter in kindergarten to provide for when started law school.

Assistant public defender with the Broward Public Defender’s Office Christavia Johnson contributed to the conversation, saying how her hardships and struggles defined who she became as an adult.

Johnson said she lived in a household filled with domestic violence, drugs, and parents who were in and out of jail.

She added that she always wanted to utilize her education background to teach juveniles about their rights and how to assert those rights.

“Circumstances don’t define who you are,” she said.

Q2: What inspires you everyday?

Victim services practitioner Jumorrow-Terra Johnson has worked for the state of Florida for over 20 years. She earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s degree in criminal justice.

Johnson is a “victims advocate” for the FAU Police Department as well as an executive board member and president of the Broward Human Trafficking Coalition. Johnson said she believes that everybody, “has the right to life and safety.”

Johnson told the audience about her grandmother who was murdered in a convenience store years ago. Johnson said her grandmother had seven children and worked three jobs at the time and the tragedy changed the entire course of her family’s life.

Q3: How do you balance work, family, and relationships (friendships or romantic)?

Psychologist, educator, community organizer, and diversity trainer Lucinda Bratini said it’s hard to “turn off” passion. Bratini is Afro-Latina and now serves as the diversity coordinator of the FAU Counseling and Psychological Services center.

Evans advised the students in the audience to be careful about the people you let in your life. It’s OK to let go of negative friendships that become harmful, Evans said.

Hadley then opened the floor to the audience for any questions they had for the panelists.

NCNW member and freshman pre-med major Allasia J. Bartee asked, “How do you handle stereotypes in the workplace?”

“Black women will always be ‘too loud’ for a society who had no intention of listening to them in the first place,” Jumarrow-Terra Johnson said.

When acknowledging the history and oppression that minorities have faced in the workplace, it is crucial now more than ever that black women stay true to who they are, she added.

“It is not OK to set yourself on fire, to keep other people warm,” Johnson said.

Williams said she has been called many things other than an attorney in her line of work.

“If I’m dressed like an attorney, I am the attorney!” said Williams.

Q4: Finally, do you feel like you’ve met your goal? Is there more for you to do?

Bradley answered first stating, “every dream that I have, I will pursue that dream because God has created me to be a dreamer.” She added that she feels there is still much for her to learn and experience to reach her full career potential.

Fant advised students to continue to set goals and fulfill their purpose. Fant has aspirations to become a WNBA sports agent and is excited for the work to come.

“As long as there is a human race, there’s always work to be done,” said Evans.

Jumurrow-Terra Johnson turned the tables by asking students if they were striving to be better than yesterday.

Williams emphasized how there are many resources available to students on the FAU campus and that they should use them to the best of their ability.

Destiny Harris is a contributing writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected].