Every February, we #AmplifyBlackVoices at DreamWakers by sharing inspiration, advice, and perspectives from our incredible Black DreamSpeakers. To commemorate Black History Month 2023, check out these 10 pieces of inspiration and insight from some of our favorite career role models. Their words of wisdom will continue to ring true as we continue to celebrate Black excellence all year long.
ANTHONY CONWAY | Talent Producer, Complex Networks
“With working in production and entertainment, it can be very competitive. You just have to remember that if your work is good and you’re on top of it, the end goal is to make sure that you’re presenting yourself with the best possible opportunity.
You’re going to hit a lot of obstacles and a lot of barriers to the things you want to achieve in life… but set your price, know what you want, know what you’re willing to settle for, and do not waver from that. You can never go wrong when you bet on yourself. What’s for you will always be for you.”
LAMONT SMITH | Emmy Award-Winning Avid Editor, NBC Sports
“When I started working with people, they would ask, ‘Where did you go to school?’ People would say, ‘Columbia, Stanford,’ etc. I went to City College [of New York], and there was a bit of imposter syndrome I felt.
I always decided that even though I might not be as formally educated as some people, and I might not be as well-connected as some people, no one is going to out-work me.”
ROEN HIGGINS | Award-Winning Poet
“Poetry is in all of us. It’s just one of the many outlets we can use to express what we’re going through.
You all have many different opportunities to explore and you should: from the way you decorate your room to how you dress yourself, there are so many ways to express who you are.”
NEREA GIBSON | Scientist at AstraZeneca, Founder & CEO of Aeren Waters
“You have to be intrinsically motivated.
If there is something that you wanna do, there has to be a drive and a hunger within you to get you to the finish line, because sometimes, you might get tired — like “I don’t want to do this anymore. It’s too hard” — but you have to think, ‘Where do I want to see myself in the end?'”
MARLON ADDISON | Vice President of Growth and Payor Relationships, Eastern Dental Management
“I’m an extrovert. While extroverts are more outwardly expressive, it doesn’t mean introverts are not expressive. We extroverts may be more outwardly expressive, but that does not mean introverts don’t express themselves.
Introverts are leaders as well! It does not mean you’re not a leader, or that you’re any less of a leader just because you’re an introvert. It just means you learn differently and express yourself differently. There’s nothing wrong with it; it’s just different.”
SHERYL WALTON | Senior Manager, Enterprise Service Desk, Autodesk
“Once you start thinking about a career path, as you grow, you may change what you want to do, and your focus may change. Don’t ever be afraid of that. Challenges are always good, and you’ll always learn lessons from them.
Every time I saw an opportunity to change the narrative of my career trajectory, I jumped on it. I’ve been working at Autodesk for almost 12 years now, and I’ve made changes to my path about every three years so I can continue to grow. I love what I do — I provide services to others — so I stay along that path. Now, the importance of having a great customer experience totally aligns with the direction I’m going.”
DR. TOMÁS DÍAZ | Physician and Assistant Professor, Columbia University Irving Medical Center
“You all are excellent. It can be hard to remember that when you experience disappointment, but everybody else is experiencing disappointment, too.
Disappointment is very normal and it is valid. Feel those feelings and seek support from friends, family, or people in your community and figure out where you want to go from there.”
DARIUS GRANDBERRY | Founder & CEO, LeagueSwype
“Remain curious. If you ever struggle with what it is you want to do with your life or your career, think about the things that you’re most curious about. Always ask why. Think about what questions in your mind you continuously ask ‘why’ about. That could be what it is you’re passionate about.
JENNA FLACK | Manager, Deloitte
“Sometimes, it can feel like you’re under a lot of pressure and have to know everything. But asking for help is probably one of the best ways to grow and make sure that you’re learning and doing the best that you can.
It’s important not to be afraid to ask for help because it will help you grow and be your best!”
DR. TIMOTHY FRITZ | Assistant Professor, Mount Saint Mary’s University
“One thing that I would suggest to prepare for a career is to always keep an open mind. It’s okay to change your mind. If you want to be an astronaut one day and then you read a book about the Boston Harbor and you decide you want to be a sailor instead, go be a sailor.
Always follow whatever you’re interested in at the time and eventually you’ll find something that you care a lot about. One day you’ll figure out something that you can’t get enough of and that will end up being your career!”
DreamWakers’ mission is to help students see what they can be, inspiring the next generation of leaders, entrepreneurs, and professionals in all industries. Representation matters, and we connect students across the country with career professionals who look like them, so that the youth of America can truly see themselves in the faces of their role models year-round. These insights are just snippets of the many impactful conversations that take place every day during flashchats.
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