Thank You For Being Such A Vital Part Of Our Team, Susan Sanders! We Look Forward To Sharing More About You So Others Can Get To Know You Better!
Tell us a bit about your backstory and what lead you down your current life path.
When I started undergraduate school at McNeese State University, I had my heart set on becoming a registered nurse (mainly because of my mother’s influence as a nurse). After a challenging year in the nursing program, I reflected on my own passions and tapped into my strengths and interests in helping others manage their lives from a holistic approach. I changed my major to vocational rehabilitation services and completed my bachelor’s degree in psychology at Southern University and A&M College (my father’s alma mater). I worked in the social service industry for nearly six years as a vocational rehabilitation counselor for various agencies, then decided to embark upon a career change that would help me to be more proactive in my service to others. This year, I am celebrating 19 years as an education professional and looking forward to many more years to come.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career?
I have been most inspired by my college mentor, Dr. Carliss Washington. She exuded a passion for her work as a professor and her connection with students and colleagues. Dr. Washington took me under her wing when I transferred to Southern University and quickly became my mom away from home. She has provided me with sound advice over the years, but most importantly, she has served as a guiding light— professionally and personally. I can’t thank her enough for supporting my growth and I hope that I have made her proud.
What is one thing you are proud of achieving in your life?
I am most proud of being an involved, loving parent. My bonus son was six years old when I came into his life. He was diagnosed with autism, an intellectual disability, and ADHD. Over the years, I have grown to understand his needs better and to accommodate them as best I can. I am thankful for my husband/his dad, who is an amazing partner in parenting. Our son is now 16 and has successfully completed 9th grade, is participating on his school’s football and track teams, and just began an internship at a local graphics design company.
What keeps you motivated? What maintains your passion for and commitment to the work you are doing?
I am most motivated by the joy of my students’ successes. To witness their development and to celebrate their accomplishments (great and small) means the world to me. I couldn’t be more fulfilled by the signs of gratitude I receive from them and their families.
What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family, traveling, and baking. I started a home-based bakery this year and have embraced this art form with excitement. I have found that baking brings a sense of calm while also challenging me to do things I’ve never done. The delicious creations that we get to enjoy are an added bonus.
Tell about an amazing trip you took. Where did you go and what did you enjoy most?
I was blessed to have received a Fund for Teachers fellowship and traveled to Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa, to observe and learn from best practices to enhance literacy among emergent and struggling readers in my area.
Please share your favorite Life Lesson quote. How is it relevant to your life?
“Everything happens for a reason.” ~Unknown This quote has gotten me through many ups and downs. When I encounter turbulence in my life, I try to focus on this idea and that there is a bigger lesson for me in the experience. It helps me to shift my focus away from the details (stress-inducing approach) to identifying the lesson in it all (stress-relieving approach).
Is there a person in the world with whom you would love to have a private lunch and why? He/she might just see this! 🙂
The person with whom I would love to have a private lunch is the one and only Ms. Oprah Winfrey. Ms. Winfrey has been a global trailblazer for women, especially black women. I remember seeing an episode of her talk show as a young girl. I was enamored by her beauty and boldness! At the time of her national debut, there were not many black women on TV in a position of power. To witness her quick rise to stardom by addressing high-interest topics on her talk show was a dream come true for me! I see a lot of myself in her, and it was affirming to be able to draw the parallels between our unique characteristics.
What about the Educate. Radiate. Elevate.’s Purpose, Mission, and Core Values speaks most to you and why?
I am most passionate about the work it takes to holistically educate children of color in today’s society. The emphasis placed on social-emotional learning, culturally relevant and trauma-informed education, and soft skills necessary for success is something I appreciate. I try to incorporate these elements into my daily work with students. Regardless of the obstacles that exist in various settings, this work is critical in ultimately making the world a better place.