I started a journey that I never thought would end up like this! I mean, let’s be honest, who could have predicted that something as simple as helping my parents in the community would lead me to where I am today? Yes, back then, it started by helping my parents sell African art, then by being homeschooled with an interest in photography. All of this led to a life filled with moments, memories, and lessons, all under the age of thirty.
I’m from the beautiful city of Newark, NJ. I received my first camera at age five, and the rest is legendary history! I became a photographer and started my first business at thirteen. I mean, life was amazing; I had the opportunity to travel at the age of thirteen to photograph weddings, birthday parties, events, etc. I loved telling people’s stories through photos.
Five and thirteen were significant moments in my life because they were ages that changed the trajectory of my life forever. At five, I met my childhood best friend Krystal Brooks and my high school best friend. At thirteen, I met my best friend, and she and I were inseparable. We had our whole life planned out, creating our organization to help Black and Brown girls like us who didn’t feel supported in high school. We would have our “take over the world meetings,” as we used to call them, since we both loved “Pinky and the Brain” TV show.
Our first goal was to start a nonprofit organization where all girls would feel supported regardless of their background, status, race, or religion. We wanted to create a space where a teenage girl could be just a girl and not grow up as fast as we did. We spent our whole freshman year thinking about the name, the location, and the future building – I mean, everything! We even thought about the other girl’s faces that we couldn’t wait to meet in the future. We initially came up with a hundred names and later called it “The International Girls Academy.” We wanted a name that was welcoming and something for everyone. However, unpredictable things happened: my best friend, business partner, and co-founder took her life at fifteen.
This left me devastated and still does, but through her memory and our plan, I decided to go forward to create the organization we needed while we were younger. I kept the name we chose, The International Girls Academy, honoring her memory and our mission. I dedicated my life to helping the next generation of leaders by providing them with the needed resources.
The International Girls Academy has impacted over 1,000 students throughout the tri-state, DMV, and Midwest area. We have taken students abroad to South America to expose them to the rain forest, global education, and get exposed to a new learning experience. Our mission is to unite, uplift, and empower through the instruction and practice of the Nguzo Saba (Swahili for Seven Principles).
We strive to create a positive and open-minded society by embedding our principles into everyday lives, and we empower girls to understand that they don’t need a seat at the table; they can create their own. Without proper support and guidance, young girls may feel powerless and directionless, leading to decisions that can impede their futures. However, when a young girl finds her spark, she has the potential to impact, change, and inspire the world.
Right now, The International Girls Academy is raising funds for a physical location to create more impact. Check the link below and see how you can support us https://www.classy.org/fundraiser/3175296