THE BLOG
01/13/2017 06:49 pm ET Updated Jan 14, 2018

No One Can Take My Education From Me: An Aspiring African-American Female Entrepreneur Forges Her Path to Success

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Domonique Tucker is a graduate student at the University of Denver. Her journey has inspired her to dedicate her life to activism and helping disenfranchised groups. Because of this, Domonique has taken an interest in the work we do here at GlobalMindED and has become our newest intern. In light of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I sat down with Domonique to learn about her experience:

How was your experience getting your undergrad? What did you study? What unique challenges did you face?

While receiving my B.S. in Communication I focused on interpersonal relationship maintenance, conflict, and negotiation. Besides going to every football game at my university in support of my brother who played on the team, I didn't participate in any on campus activities. With over 75,000 students, I was overwhelmed and became very introverted. There was a very large disparity in the representation of black minorities. At the time, diversity and inclusivity were not part of the conversation that colleges were having. It was hard for me to find and connect with students I could relate to.


You are currently pursuing your Master's Degree at the University of Denver. What are you studying, and what inspired you to get a Master's?

I am currently pursuing my Master of Science in Management at Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver. What inspired me to get my master's degree was knowing that I wanted more. I have always felt like I am destined to do something bigger than myself. I would get anxious sitting behind my desk working for other people's dreams and not out there pursuing my own. I don't have the privilege of being white or a male, so I knew that a master's degree would give me credibility, and, more importantly, confidence.

What are your goals and what do you hope to achieve after graduation?

That is something that I am currently working on. I have so many dreams and goals that I want to achieve. I want to travel the world, write books, blog, speak at conferences, get my PHD and so much more. My weakness is that I want to do everything at once, and I often feel like I am not doing enough. I am currently working with a mentor to map out my own desires, as well as my personal, professional, and economic needs. My mentor told me that I need to stop rushing towards a specific end goal for my life and, to instead, let it naturally take it's course. In this last semester, I am focusing on self-reflection. My goal at this point in my life is to get a better understanding of myself, and everything else will begin to fall into place.

What piqued your interest in GlobalMindED?

After we met at the Social Entrepreneurship Summit at DU, and I learned more about the GlobalMindED conference, I found that a lot of my passions aligned with the passions of your organization. Meeting with you and the staff is what really peaked my interest. I love your enthusiasm and energy. Your passion inspires me, and I appreciate you for opening up opportunities for me and challenging me to grow. Working with GlobalmindED helps me with my self-reflection because I know in my heart that opening up opportunity, access, and equity for women is my passion and, working with them, I feel I am on the right track.

What is your understanding of the challenges that First Gen college students face? How, in your own experience, do you relate to these challenges?

Fear. It is one of the most debilitating human emotions. We all have fear of the unknown or fear of failing. Taking steps that have never been navigated before by someone in your family can be scary. In my process of self-reflection I am learning to manage my fear of the unknown, of failure, and how to replace it with calculated and strategic risks. If you continue to do the same thing, you will always yield the same results. I am beginning to crave change and discomfort, because that is when I learn the most about myself.

Your father was a First Gen college student. How did that affect your decision to go to college?

My dad is the only child out of seven to attend college. He lost both of his parents at the age of fifteen and was left with little to no guidance. He would always tell me about how he struggled to get out of the situation he was in. Today, he is a retired Colonel in the Army and Drug Enforcement Administrator. He has taken thousands of criminals off the street around the country and served in two deployments. He inspires me day to day by his determination and his wealth of wisdom. He always told me that "If you can visualize it, you can believe it, if you can believe it, you can achieve it. Then the world is yours."

My parents gave me three options: go to college, get a job, or move out. I chose to go to school. In fact, I graduated high school early and finished my bachelor's degree in two years. I finished my degree before both of my older brothers. The importance of my education was instilled in me at a very young age. Not going to college was never an option. No one can ever take my education from me, and I will never regret learning something new.

If you could speak with your freshman self, what type of advice would you give yourself?

I would tell my freshman self that, you're not going to know all the details, how it is going to work, or where you are going to find the funds. Think with a boldness, and don't be afraid to step into the unknown. Lead with no apologies.

What was an obstacle that you faced in school, how did you overcome it, and what did you learn from it?

My biggest obstacle that I faced was not in school, but rather, my first job after graduating. I graduated from college at twenty feeling confident and prepared for the workforce. I quickly realized that college didn't prepare me for the real world at all. I had never been exposed to, or learned how to deal with, discrimination, sexual harassment, and people who lack integrity. I am passionate about leadership and development, access and opportunity, and equity for women because of the challenges I faced early in my career. I have learned that people can only treat you how you allow them to treat you. I found my voice, and now I am an activist for women who find themselves in the situation I was in. Society has to do better. If I want to see a change in the world, a change that desperately needs to happen, I will live my life in accordance to that change I long to see.

With Martin Luther King Jr. Day being right around the corner, how do you feel your experience honors him and what he stood for?

"Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend."
-Martin Luther King Jr.

I watch the news daily, and all I see is violence, racism, and hate. Some days I struggle to find meaning in it all: What is all of this for? Other days I feel energized to work towards, and advocate for, that change our world needs. Working with women and opening up opportunity, access, and equity is meaningful to me. Seeing change and positivity fostered in the community reminds me that everything is made beautiful in its time. No matter what I face or what this world goes through, every single moment will become beautiful in its time. One of my favorite speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is "What Is Your Life's Blueprint?" In his speech he defines three things that your life's blueprint requires:

1. A deep belief in your own dignity, your own worth and your own somebodiness
2. The determination to achieve excellence in your various fields of endeavor
3. Be committed to the eternal principles of beauty, love, and justice

As a African-American women, in a society where race and diversity remains a potent and divisive force, I feel an obligation to uphold what Dr. King stood for. Martin Luther King Jr. inspires me to grow as a servant-leader and always speak up in the face of injustice for women and all.

Thank you, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for your courage, your leadership, and your kindness. Your political skill, acumen, and etiquette has made this world a better place and continues to inspire leaders like myself everyday.

Domonique is a perfect example of how, through hard work and diligence, any reality is within reach. Being an African-American woman, she already had unique obstacles standing in her way. However, her dedication to education and making a change gave her the strength she needed to push forward.

Domonique is currently interning at GlobalMindED, which is focused on access, equity and opportunity for first generation college students, underserved populations, those who work with them and those who hire them. The success of First Gen college students is a priority at the GlobalMindED Conference, where we connect the students in our leadership class with professional mentors in their chosen field, make career and internship connections, and learn to be "workplace" entrepreneurs upon graduation. If you know an exceptional First Gen college student, encourage them to apply for our leadership class here.