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No Success Without Effort
Patricia B is a 55 year old African American woman. She’s balanced two jobs, three kids, going to school full time
and a marriage all beginning at the age of eighteen. So what can
women of today learn from her?
So many black women today are trying to do the balancing act of going to school, raising the kids and becoming successful individuals. The workforce is more diverse in employees than ever. What are we as minorities doing to keep up with this change? In order to be successful it takes more than drive, determination or a dream. You must have a plan and work hard to follow it. Listening to my grandmother share all the hardships she had to endure and the obstacles she had to overcome in order to reach her goals and be successful really caused me to think about what being successful really means. My grandmother (affectionately know as Pat) had to deal with racism, taking care of growing children, a husband who was not always supportive, and attending college full time. She accomplished her goals and became a successful registered nurse working special cases and assignments at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. She is now retired and gives us an insight on how she became successful through it all. She’s still qualified to work as a nurse.
Was life always easy for you?
“It was um…it was still a little segregated. It was like we could go to stores but we weren’t allowed to do the things whites could do. We weren’t allowed to try things on or return them. You just had to know your size. Say if we wanted to try on a hat we had to put a bag over our heads.”
What are your ideas as far as life now?
“I would say that I had to work harder. I was the only black in this particular store. I was treated differently than whites. If I wanted something, I had to work twice as hard as everyone else. Even the teachers treated me like that. One time in school, they asked us what we wanted to be and I said a nurse. The teacher was like oh that’ll never happen.”
What is your career or profession?
“In second grade I decided to be a nurse. I never changed that. I always liked the instruments. I wanted to have a better understanding of things. When I was young, my mom was pregnant and she lost the child. Ever since then I decided I had to find out why.”
What did you go to college for?
“Premed. I already had two kids and I was pregnant. But I still went to college. He [my husband] didn’t want me to go but I knew it was best for me. He was trying to hold me back… Sometimes I would have to keep school a secret from him and I did. Very well.”
How old were you when you had your first child?
“Eighteen and married.”
What made you get married so young?
“I wanted to get away…I was ready to go I wanted to go. His mother [my mother-in-law] didn’t like me because I was dark skinned. After I got married, she got over it. It’s funny how black people are racist to others in their race.”
“It’s funny how black people are racist to others in their race.’’
What kind of help did you receive when raising the kids?
“Just me. I paid the babysitter. He was in the military so after Kim was born we moved around a lot.”
How would you describe your parenting skills?
“It was um…in the beginning it was good. When they [the oldest two]
were probably eight or nine years old I was under a lot of stress. Damien was three. I was working to jobs. School full time. I was really stressed. At times, I would spank really hard. As far as skills they were still good.”
Was it hard raising kids that young?
“It wasn’t bad for me. I spent a lot of time with them. Letting them visit other places. I loved being a parent until they became teenagers [laugh]. That’s when I didn’t like it after that.”
What did you regret as a parent?
“I made a mistake I should have moved out and had a place of my own to raise them. Get out of my mother’s place. I wish I never took them out of private school.”
Are you doing your best to help other teen moms?
“I was De’ja. I think I’ve been retired. I’ve been sick for the last 3 years. But I have been. Well I do. I used to help out all the time.”
How did you help your daughter when she was a teen mom?
“I was there I supported her. I helped teach mentally, physically, financially. I babysat. Anything, just encouraging her that nobody’s any better than her just because she had a child.”
What is life like now for you?
“I’m back in school now. I love learning. I enjoy it. I’m going for a religion major. It’s a lot of reading. We have to memorize the entire book of John [laughs]. Now being retired. I feel blessed. I don’t like that I’m a little sick. I’m glad you all [my grandkids] are ok. I try to spend as much time on all of you. I never had favorites. Eleven grand kids and I love everyone of you all.”
Would you say you did everything you could as mother?
“Absolutely, I went to God about it. I felt as if I did everything.”
What advice would you give to women of the next generation?
“Your generation is looking at a different type of struggle. You’re going through something worse. If you believe in something go on a basis of what’s right. You all are different but that’s life.”