I am originally from one of the ghettos in Detroit, MI.

I was the picture perfect demographic for an at risk youth:

  • Single parent home

  • Below the poverty line

  • Drug infested neighborhood

  • Lack of positive role models

How did I beat the odds to become Dr. Donna?

What’s the difference?

My mother received a promotion at work and we moved to the suburbs. I was starting 6th grade. Because I was an excellent student, by mid-year I was moved to an accelerated class.

During the beginning of 7th grade I brought home a paper that informed my mother I was eligible to move to the advanced class.

I remember this moment as if it were yesterday. It was a Thursday afternoon. My mother said, “You are moving up to that class.” I burst into tears. I did not want to go to the class. They were a bunch of nerds and I would miss my friends. However, my mother was and still is “old school.” Once she has made a decision, that’s it, end of discussion!

I turned in the acceptance letter the next day and cried all the way home. My friends spent the weekend with me. Monday I moved up and joined the nerds.

I gotta be honest with you! It was very difficult in the beginning. I didn’t fit in with the nerds at all and my old friends called me L7 (square).

After completing the 8th grade, I attended a magnet high school (Diana Ross and Lily Tomlin are fellow alumnae) and then went on to college.

So what’s my point?

I believe it was my mother “insisting,” I mean encouraging me to go to my next level. You see, she knew that it mattered. She understood that advancing would mean that I would continue to advance.

Sometimes we don’t see our greatness and other’s do. It’s our job to listen with an attentive ear and take the leap of faith.

Take a moment and think about all of the missed opportunities because you wanted to stay with the crowd, didn’t want to leave family or friends, or you were afraid to take the risk.

Now ask yourself, “Was it worth it?”

I would venture to say that it was not.

So what’s the answer?

It has been 30 years since I moved to the advanced class. It was the tipping point that I needed to believe that I could do more and become better. Since then, when an opportunity to move up has been presented, I have taken the leap. Yes I have failed and yes, I have succeeded. The best part is that I never sit back and wonder, “what if?” I know the answer because I took the chance.

The truth is, it’s never too late.

Colonel Sanders sold his first KFC franchise at the age of 62.

What’s the difference?

I believe just like I needed my mother to tell me to do it, you need me to do the same.

I am telling you, “Go ahead and move to your next level!”

Card Carrying Nerd

Dr. Donna

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