Tell us a little bit about yourself

I attended the University of Central Florida, in Orlando, FL (#GoKnights!). I majored in Psychology and double-minored in Spanish and Leadership Studies. I chose UCF because UCF chose me. Upon applying to the University, I was also accepted into the LEAD Scholars Program. The program offered a stipend each semester and allowed me to really cultivate my leadership skills. Also, I attended UCF for FREE. Between the scholarships that I earned in high school and the scholarships that I was awarded from the institution, I graduated from UCF debt free and had the experience of a lifetime. While attending UCF, I was a McNair Scholar, published a thesis in the Burnett Honors College, was a Peer Mentor in the LEAD Scholars Program, Director of the Black Female Development Circle, a member of the President’s Leadership Council, UCF Royalty Homecoming Court Nominee and I was initiated into the Pi Psi Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. I chose to major in psychology because I thought that I wanted to become a counseling psychologist. I have since changed career paths but I have never let go of the counseling aspect.

From the time I was in kindergarten until my freshman year of high school, I was convinced that I would become an attorney and then eventually, a judge. After taking my first government class in 9th grade, I discovered that law wasn’t for me and decided to pursue psychology instead. Eventually, I found my footing in counseling and I haven’t looked back!

My favorite self-care activity is taking NAPS! I have realized that I’ll never be too old or too busy to take a nap. My next favorite past time is watching my favorite show of all time, The Golden Girls! I am super introverted so quiet days at home, under the blanket, watching the Golden Girls are perfect! I also enjoy blogging and going to the movies/mall alone.

My Grad School Journey

Currently, I am a second-year doctoral student in the Counseling and Student Personnel Services (Counselor Education) program at the University of Georgia.

My ultimate career goals include working in academia in some capacity, so I knew that I needed to earn a terminal degree. Also, I want to create systemic change in education for Black and Brown students. Lastly, I want to break cycles of generational poverty on my family. Earning a PhD will help me to reach all of those goals and more.

Currently, I am working on initiatives to increase underrepresentation of Black students in college. I am interested in learning about how to make college and career readiness more accessible for Black students from single parent homes. Additionally, I want to understand how first-year transition and experience programs can do a better job of supporting Black students from single-parent families.

What motivates me to study and work with students from single-parent families is my own lived experience. My mother worked two jobs my whole life to support my brother and I and it was not easy. She had to sacrifice a lot in order to provide for us. As the oldest child, I worked really hard in high school to earn a free college education, because I knew that my mom and family could not afford to send me to college.

The coolest thing about my project so far is talking with and learning from other Black students who share similar experiences of being from single-parent homes. Realizing that I am not alone in my experience or in the struggles that I experienced my first year of college was really affirming. Lastly, I really enjoy hearing how other students persisted to completion of their college degree, despite facing significant financial troubles and familial obligations.

The most challenging part of any qualitative research project is resisting the urge to see what isn’t there. While we may share similar experiences, it’s important for me to allow all participants to share their own stories and to tell their own truths.

I definitely felt discouraged after completing my master’s degree. When I graduated from undergrad, I was accepted into master’s programs in counseling at Johns Hopkins, Columbia, NYU and the University of Georgia. I chose to attend UGA because it had the top ranked program in my field (Community Counseling). However, after my 2 years in the program, I felt extremely lost and unfulfilled, despite all of my prior accomplishments. I applied to 3 Counseling Psychology PhD programs and was wait-listed at all 3 institutions. I am an extreme perfectionist and I can be really hard on myself academically. I felt like a failure and like I had let everyone down. I was embarrassed to go back home after finishing my masters degree, but I did. I went home and worked full-time for a year as a College and Career Readiness Advocate for Underrepresented Students. I applied to ONE Counselor Education PhD program that year and was accepted. It took not receiving something that I thought I wanted for me to overcome my fear of failure. I believe that sometimes we chase the wrong dreams and God has to re-direct our paths.

I think my biggest cheerleader ever was my Grandfather. He loved me unconditionally and he was always so proud of me, no matter what I had done. He transitioned to Heaven two years ago, two weeks after I graduated with my masters degree. I know that he is still cheering for me, even though I am heart-broken that he’s no longer physically here.

My mom, grandmother and God-mother are also some of my biggest cheerleaders! I am grateful for their love and support.

“Your education is the one thing that no one can EVER take away from you”. My mother always said this when I was growing up. Although I have always loved school, this piece of advice has gotten me through some of my most challenging moments in academia and in education in general. I believe that God placed a passion for learning inside of me so that I could help other students of Color to reach their goals as well.

You are NOT an imposter. You are brilliant and capable and you deserve to be here. Do not allow anyone to make you doubt yourself or your abilities! Persist, resist and change the world.

Interesting fact about me!
I recently incorporated my non-profit, Brilliant Black Girl, Inc., which is designed to support high-achieving Black girls and women from low-income families. You can learn more about Brilliant Black Girl at www.brilliantblackgirlinc.org. You can find links to apparel and more on the website. Also, I am preparing to study abroad in #GHANA this December! Please consider supporting me by donating to my GoFundMe campaign, https://funds.gofundme.com/dashboard.

Want to contact me? Email me at ravenk90@gmail.com

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