All Socials: rianaelyse
In the beginning - or, in 3rd grade - I did a project in social studies class about what I wanted to do when I grew up. I drew a picture of the “Kiddome” - a Detroit-based center focused on the health & well-being of Black children - where I wanted to be a child psychologist. In high school, I actually petitioned the Detroit City Council to build this facility, and scored an internship with a councilperson as a result. After college, while in Teach For America, I saw firsthand how important it was to deeply understand Black culture, children, families, and communities when addressing the wellness issues of my students, further solidifying my desire to work on behalf of Black children’s mental health.
Now I’m going to QUICKLY skim over the next 10 years of God’s grace, including the tornado in ATL while I was teaching that LITERALLY taught me peace in the middle of the storm, or the serendipitous conversation which afforded me a free application to grad schools which ultimately led me to apply to UVA, the summer opportunities in DC which strengthened my clinical and community skills, the residency at Yale Medicine, the Ford postdoc fellowship at Penn, and so many other blessings in between.
I’ll pick it back up at USC where I took my first academic position. Things were not aligning as well as I had hoped. I went to church and my pastor asked us how many of us were entrepreneurs. I thought about my clinical work and applied research and raised my hand. He then asked, “what was the dream God put in you years ago about your entrepreneurship?” and the Kiddome popped immediately in my head. I thought to myself, “I have to get back to Detroit to open my center!” But there was just one issue: I just declined an offer at the University of Michigan the prior year. The position was filled. So, I made my petition known to God and in 6 months, there was an offer from the university to come back home. I also said that I wanted to live and work primarily in Detroit. The department agreed.
I’m now in Detroit, skipping and hopping and living my best life working on behalf of Black kiddos and their families, with the Kiddome on my mind in the near future.
What were the biggest initial hurdles and how did you overcome them?
There are few clinicians of color, particularly in urban areas, so having role models when I was growing up was challenging. I now have a wealth of people who I look up to who can provide mentorship, guidance, and support around issues of licensure, research, and practice. It was crucial that I put myself out there and reach out to people for more networking to ensure I got my needs met. What books are you currently reading? Barack Obama's A Promised Land
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started? It is critical to understand how delay is a part of the purpose. There are a number of times in which I doubted the process and did not understand why my dreams were not coming true in real time. However, having vision that allows for forward and backward perspectives helps to put your constant movement and progress into better alignment. Your dreams will come to pass. Document them and see how much is fulfilled over time. What advice would you give to an upcoming youth or talents locally and internationally? Work diligently and with integrity. You never know where the road will lead but with the right and righteous skills, you will stand out when you get there.