Who I am today was not built overnight. I had to pull myself out of dark places, frustration and heartaches. I had to go through obstacles to align myself to where I am now. I came from a line of strong entrepreneurs and hard workers with Christian backgrounds. As a Black woman, I was taught to strive to be better than the rest, let my light shine brighter and that there were no second chances. Throughout high school, I received high grades in math and science, took two years of computer engineering classes, participated in robotics competitions and graduated with high honors. Despite my achievements, attending college after high school wasn’t discussed.
Thankfully, my instructors, guidance counselors and a close friend inspired me to apply to different colleges. I looked at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). I had the drive and skillset to succeed. I applied and was accepted to Morgan State University (an HBCU), majoring in electrical engineering. Unfortunately, I only attended one year due to financial hardship.
Who I am today was not built overnight. At age 23, I took over the family-owned business and started an S corporation called Mo’s Touch, Inc. The family business was established in 1997 and is still operating today. At Mo’s Touch, Inc., I created futuristic hairstyles and trained younger women on beauty techniques. During those years, I taught my stylists not only styling techniques, but also about personal finance, time management, communication, interpersonal skills and organization. I take pride in knowing that 90% of them went on to graduate from a trade school or college and pursued their dreams. Some even became entrepreneurs. This was one of the greatest rewards of being a business owner.
Although the salon was a lucrative business, it was not my true passion. At age 27, I decided to finish what I started and went back to college! I enrolled at Onondaga Community College and graduated with high honors in 2013 with an associate degree in electrical engineering. While this was a great accomplishment, I had not yet achieved my goal of becoming an engineer. My life became dark, cold and clouded. I forgot myself and started to give up on my dream. Then one of my previous employees at Mo’s Touch, Inc. reminded me of my tenacity. I remember her saying, “you encouraged me, and now it’s my turn to encourage you.” She believed in me when I stopped believing in myself, and this motivated me to keep working toward my goals.
Who I am today was not built overnight. At age 36, I applied to Rochester Institute of Technology, and in 2022, I graduated with honors with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. I applied to L3Harris and started a new career as a test engineer in fewer than 30 days after graduation. A lot of people ask me how I connected styling with engineering. The truth is the two professions have a lot of similarities. As a stylist, you must apply logical solutions to real life situations and develop ways to make life easier for your customers. The same is true for engineers. I’m grateful for my past. I was able to successfully transfer the skills I developed as a stylist and business owner to a career in engineering.
In retrospect, I am thankful for the support of my mentors, my parents, former employees, clients and a host of friends that stood by my side.
My overall message is simple: Who you are today never can be built overnight. Sometimes you must go through obstacles to align yourself to where you are now. I am thankful for my journey. I finally made it to the finish line. Today I am an engineer, entrepreneur, wife, Christian and a brave, strong woman.