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Just Thinking

Moments ago I watched a clip of Will Packer speaking at an event. He listed three things we should have as entrepreneurs – great work ethics, a clear vision, and passion. Hmm…

Years ago, everything was so clear. I had one goal, to bring hope to those in despair, in particular, those in the Mississippi Delta.

As a teenager, I imagined opening a place in my hometown that catered to the needs of children as well as elders. I wanted our children to have the same opportunities as children living in high-income areas. I also wanted to connect them with other children all over the world. As for the elders, I wanted them to be able to sit back and enjoy life and not worry about food, medication, or housing. It’s how I imagined my grands living out the rest of their lives.

As a child, I had opportunities most children in Mississippi didn’t. I went to school in Kansas. I had the opportunity to attended school with foreign exchange students, and I even had a pen pal as a child. Oh, and books… I loved reading. The library was my favorite place to visit. Books always took me different places. And so did my imagination.

Well, when I graduated from high school, I was fortunate enough to visit the Dominican Republic for a few weeks. My goal was to learn about their culture and practice speaking Spanish. It’s an experience I will never forget. It’s what I envisioned for others.

As we all know, life never goes exactly as planned. My vision never changed; however, ways of achieving it, did. Honestly, this journey has been harder than I thought. I’ve listened to people say only focus on one thing and make that happen. Well, my one thing is multifaceted. I can’t focus on health and wellness, if educational and financial needs aren’t being met. Things aren’t that simple. This is why we see so many failed programs. This is why we haven’t been able to achieve sustainable programming. Something different has to be done.

So, that’s what I’m doing now. Community-based research will never make me rich, and working in the public health field definitely won’t. When people say, “follow your passion,” they’re often referring to becoming wealthy. Everyone wants to be rich. I, on the other hand, only want to see people thrive. To me, that’s wealth. That’s where my passion lies.

At the moment, I’m working on my DrPH (Doctor of Public Health) degree. My focus is on public policy and program development. I’ve worked on enough community-based research projects to know what works and what doesn’t. Unfortunately, in the world of research and politics, credentials speak louder than experience. However… fortunately for me, and those I serve, I’m gaining more knowledge through each course I take. When it’s all over, I will be properly prepared to fulfill my vision.

This hasn’t been an easy task. I’ve wanted to quit so many times, but I know my purpose is greater than any discomfort I’m experiencing. God is working. I will make it. My people will not only survive, but they will THRIVE, and so will generations to come!

God is good!

Shaun

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