Who Inspires You?

By Mia Hall

image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net/nattavut

In speaking to several classes over the past few years, I always get the question – who inspires you? I likely give an answer depending on my season. I believe that those who inspire us can offer us a push when we are down as well as enlighten others , so asking others about their inspirations is a great way to not only network, but also, a way to identify more resources for enlightenment when in need.

Inspire, from the Latin īnspīrāre, literally means to breath into (“in” – into; spīrāre – breathe). I hope to breathe life into some of your dreams that may have been buried, or just need some fresh air, by  highlighting  women who are my inspiration , also focusing on Black women in honor of last month’s Black History Month.

Each of the women is responsible for a piece of who I am today. When applying for schools, interviewing for jobs, or just facing a challenge, I have thought about the fearlessness, faith, and fierceness of these women. I hope that they will inspire you as well.

Past – Elizabeth Eckford – One of the turnkey programs that I was a part of as a high school student was ACRES – American Civil Rights Education Services. Through ACRES I had the opportunity to learn about slavery and the Civil Rights movement, as well as visit many areas where the events of the movement took place. When I went to Arkansas we met Elizabeth Eckford, one of the members of the Little Rock Nine, a group of students who were the first to integrate Little Rock High School in 1957. When she spoke of the terror she faced, all of the students in the room were in shock and awe. She explained that she had to bring a change of clothes to school because so much saliva was on her dress by lunchtime, she would have to change. This helped me to realize that my education was not something that I should take for granted, and it inspired me to do the best that I could because of the sacrifices that were made for me in the past.

Present  – Rolanda Gaines is currently the Director of Strategic Marketing and Communications at FOX Sports South . I was introduced to Rolanda while she was on her tenure at ESPN, she has also worked with top sports companies such as Major League Baseball and Nike. When my program director at PowerPlay introduced me to her, she warned me that I would need to be as poised and professional as possible when working with her because that would certainly be her expectation. Since we have met, Rolanda – a Stanford and Fordham graduate–has been an invaluable resource in my career. She helped me to craft my resume when I was first applying for jobs, introduced me to other women in sports that have also been a great help to me, and has been there when I faced some very hard challenges in my new position, all while directing major entities and climbing the ranks of the industry herself. Rolanda’s work helping young professionals gain entry and thrive in the sport industry continues to be reflected in her mentees and all who attended her monthly sports networking events, she hosted for several years while she was in New York. Rolanda inspires me because she embodies what it means to be a woman of power; a highly effective professional that gives back to the community, helping others achieve their dreams as well.

LifetimeAudrey Hall is currently a legal secretary at District Council 37 and a member of the Progressive Association for Political Action. She has also worked tirelessly on the campaign to elect Brooklyn’s first African-American District Attorney Ken Thompson. Though Audrey was unable to finish high school because she became pregnant in her final year, she did obtain her GED while she was pregnant. She went on to pursue a degree at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, but she had to go home to Brooklyn because she could not afford housing.  Though the father of her child was in and out of prison and did not start to take responsibility for his child until she was 6 years old, with the support of her family,  Audrey raised her child to the best of her ability. Always emphasizing the importance of education, Audrey made sure that her daughter had an educational toy each Christmas, was involved in any free enrichment programs the housing development’s community center had to offer, and was always reading a book. As a single mom, Audrey worked diligently at her job and was able to move her child out of the projects twice. Audrey always made sure that her daughter was able to get a great education and had her enrolled in magnet schools where she exceled in the gifted programs. When her daughter went to college at Hampton University, she cheered her on as the first person to graduate college in the family, helping her to also graduate Harvard thereafter. While her daughter was enrolled in college, Audrey decided to return to school as well. She took courses in stenography, paralegal studies, and in 2012 received a Bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies. Audrey Hall is my mom, and has always inspired me by her diligence, love for learning, and persistence, to go after my dreams with confidence, regardless of how unreachable they may seem.

We owe it to ourselves to chase after our dreams with all we have and to not just draw inspiration from your personal role models, but do the same for others.

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miaAbout the Author
Mia Hall is a sports and entertainment reporter specializing in the business of sport. She has worked with organizations such as the NBA, NY Knicks, Black Enterprise, The Basketball Channel, The High School of Sports Management, and is currently with the new Barclay’s Center. She is passionate about the youth of today and committed to nonprofits such as PowerPlay NYC, Inc. and other youth empowering organizations.