Saturday, May 16, 2009

Small Town Big Dreams - The Story of PorsheaRae

July 30, 1981 the day a vibrant, strong, and beautiful little girl was born, full of life, character, and personality; her name, “Porshea Cne’ Mitchell”. My childhood was interesting, my parents were average everyday hardworking, and loving people. They met in high school; a story that seems as if it came right out of a high school journal. They married and we lived in Hearne, Texas, population around 5000 and 48% African-American. I was the most active out of all my cousins, which is why I was able to stay strong through the domestic issues my parents had. From hearing my mom get verbally abused, to being pushed around while trying to protect her when she and my dad fought, to standing in between the two of them begging her not to blow his brains out with the gun she had pointed at his head for having me out with him and one of his lady friends. I’ve seen it all. My mother is my rock and as her only child I do my best to protect her at all costs. That’s where my drive came in – from her support and determination.

My parents divorced when I was 5 or 6, my dad left us with nothing. My mom and I lived in an old house, with leaky ceilings, rats, roaches, and a broken toilet - 708 Pine Street, but even though she only had $500 a month to work with, she kept me looking good and very active. Growing up I played all sports – Volleyball (spiker), Basketball (guard), Track (200 and 4x100 relay – first leg), Cheerleading (Co-Captain), Softball (I was horrible!), Skating, Gymnastics (love to tumble) – you name it. I even played the piano for my church! I bounced around a lot with ideas on what I wanted to do; I’d try something and if I didn’t like it, or got bored I’d move on to the next – quick! I’ve never been one to accept what’s thrown at me, I’d always fight for something more, and there she was – my mother – cheering me on the whole way. I was a typical teen, and enjoyed my high school life; I started working at 14 the earliest I could, part of that was because I didn’t want to have to depend on anyone to take care of me. My dad and I fought constantly – he paid child support and felt he didn’t have to do much else. There were times I’d wait for him to pick me up with my bags packed lying at the door, and I’d sit for hours without a sign of him. I’d fall asleep so many times my mom would pick me up and put me in the bed. I needed him in my life, but after being called out a derogatory name or two – or three, for asking him to spend time with me, I’d had enough so I set my sights on my future. Despite our differences, I always kept in contact to try and keep our relationship going, no matter what he’s my father and I love him dearly, more than he knows or understands.

I worked at a fish market, grocery store, and finally in 1998, I made my way to a retail clothing store. I graduated high school with 72 people in my senior class, even though I wasn’t in the top 10% it didn’t stop me, and August 1999 I started college at Sam Houston State University; my mom worked as a Disabilities Coordinator and loved children so initially I majored in Pre-Occupational Therapy with the hopes to become a Speech Pathologist. October 1999 my grandmother dies, and I’m failing Biology, so I decided to change my major to Marketing. I worked three jobs, didn’t have time for clubs, organizations, or extra curricular activities, and it all paid off - my sophomore year I bought my first car – all by myself! It was a Toyota Corolla, brand spanking new; I called her “Rolla”.

I didn’t have good study habits, so I got through college with fairly good grades, a few B’s but mainly C’s. My college graduation day was an emotional one – May 2003. I was the first person on my dad’s side of the family to get a college degree – a Bachelor’s of Business Administration in Marketing. I moved to Houston and continued my retail career and in June 2004, beat out thousands of other candidates, and got promoted to our corporate office in Ohio to work in Brand Management. I was 1 in 9 selected, the only person from Texas, and the only African American – no prior experience but worked hard and managed 7 categories in 940 stores generating $1.4 billion in sales for the largest sub-brand for the company. I’d never read much before, but I started reading personal development books, and journaling, that was a vacation for me, a way to me to know there’s a whole other life out there and if I work hard, stay focused and keep the desire, I can have it all with plenty to give back.

June 2005, I’m traveling the country living in the fashion world and tragedy hits my family. My grandfather gets kidnapped and murdered back home in Hearne (see blog for details). The downward spiral starts. I gain 40 pounds, get diagnosed with Hypoglycemia, loose focus at work and by June 2006 find myself back in Houston. Worked a few jobs here and there, did some very successful consulting work, and finally August 2008 I get my break. I sent in a 5 minute video to’s Making It Count program, along with a few thousand other people, and was one of the few to get hired on. From there things start to make sense, all of tragedies, the reading, and speaking I did in school, at funerals, and in corporate America made sense – I found my calling. Since traveling and speaking my world has changed, my perspective on life has changed, my network has expanded dramatically, I’ve spoken to tens of thousands of students, for many organizations, and have established myself as a solid and valuable networker and business professional. An Open Networker – Servant Leader who will pay it forward just so I can see someone else succeed.

During my travels I’ve spoken with many students - especially girls - who share with me their personal stories, when I look at them, I see myself. So here I am sowing my seeds back into them just as someone did for me. I’m blessed to be a blessing. My Passion is speaking & networking – I have and will continue to sacrifice whatever necessary so I can do it. My Purpose is to inspire the next generation, empower women & solve my grand father’s murder. My Platforms are OrGano Gold, The Napoleon Hill Foundation, Making It Count, all of the networking & radio interviews I do, connections I make, organizations I join, and most importantly – you.

That gives me Power. The power to Put Opportunity Where Everyone can Reach. Join me on my quest!