Huami Magazine Arkansas May/June 2022

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ARKANSAS

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May/June 2022 Volume 1 Issue 11

Mrs. Arkansas International 2022 Arkansas - May/June 2022

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Early Voting Begins May 9th

Ernest Sanders Campaign Committee I PO Box 236 LR 72203 I formerjudgesanders.com Facebook: @formerjudgesanders I lnstagram: @ernestsandersjr Paid for by the committee to elect Ernest Sanders

• The first African American Division Chief for the 6th Judicial District, Prosecuting Attorney's Office. • Served as Administrative Law Judge on the Arkansas Parole Board. • Appointed as Circuit Judge of 5th Division Circuit Court in Pulaski and Perry Counties in 2010 by Governor Mike Beebe. Paid for by the Committee to Elect Ernest Sanders

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• Happily married to the lovely Kim Sanders for over 2 decades. • Two amazing children: Trinity and Trey ALL CITIZENS deserve a compassionate judge who listens to their case. When discretion is permitted by law and the circumstances allow, former JUDGE SANDERS vows to temper justice with mercy.

• Former JUDGE ERNEST SANDERS, JR. believes that regardless of your gender, race, socioeconomic status or any other identifying factor, you deserve equity and justice from the court system -- nothing else will do. • Former JUDGE ERNEST SANDERS is running for circuit judge to help restore faith in our judicial system one case at a time.


There Are No If, Ands, Or Buts About It! We May Wish, But God Has A Plan There Are No If, Ands, Or Buts About It! A Letter from theEditor Editor A Letter From The A Letter from the Editor

What if tomorrow didn’t arrive? All of your plans, hopes Modern technology, such as the internet and smart devices, and dreams wouldn’t have a street to park on. What if has changed the way consumers shop for everyday necessities. everything that you decided to put off until tomorrow never What if tomorrow didn’t arrive? All of your plans, hopes Everything from groceries to televisions, tires, medications, and happened? would beano reason to save a rainy and dreams There wouldn’t have street to park on. for What if patio furniture can be purchased directly from a smartphone or day, and you could someone theuntil trouble of making everything that youspare decided to put off tomorrow never computer. Foot traffic in stores has been greatly reduced, and promises. What your last happened? Thereif would be opportunity no reason toseemingly save for aexpired rainy the Covid 19 pandemic may have played a big role in that also. today? wouldspare you do? day, andWhat you could someone the trouble of making Anyhow, many retailers have adjusted how they make their products promises. What if your last opportunity seemingly expired accessible in order for them to survive. I’ve been that I often today? Whattold would you do? seem like I do too much. Honestly, I feel like I am not doing enough and I’m a firm As a child, I remember the huge department store catalogs that believerbeen in knowing that God seem wouldn’t put on me told that I often like around I do anything toothe much. would I’ve come in the mail every year, usually Christmas that I couldn’t handle. I sometimes wonderand how would Honestly, I feel like I am doingand enough I’mlife a firm holiday season. I would looknot at them prepare my list of items be if I chose to sit idle and accept what it presented to me. I believer in knowing that God wouldn’t put anything on that I wanted before submitting it to my mama. Sometimesme I got haveI found that to be very boring. In my opinion, opportunity that couldn’t handle. sometimes how life would most of what I wanted, butI not always. wonder Still, looking through the is aifblessing that isn’t afforded to what everyone. A challenge be I chose to sit idle and accept it presented to me. I catalog and believing that I would get them was very exciting for to me is an adventure. What is the worst that can happen? have found that to be very boring. In my opinion, opportunity me. Unfortunately, the catalogs are long gone now and have been If aI do nothing, I fail, if I trytechnology. I don’t, but instead learn is blessing that isn’tand afforded to everyone. A challenge replaced by digital ones. Awwwe, something new about myself. yourcan pride and in to me is an adventure. What is Relinquish the worst that happen? return acquire life. If I do nothing, I fail, and if I try I don’t, but instead learn I compare those childhood catalog surfing moments to some something newas about myself. Relinquish yourtopride experiences I have an adult. I have often tried planand out in my life The best advice ever given to me happened when someone return acquire life. by creating a wish list for various stages without the assistance of told me to store makecatalog. my tomorrow today. In doingthings so a department I have happen made plans for various I have pressed my way through doors with a key that only The best advice ever given to me happened when someone and experiences and made plans on how to acquire and accomplish hope provided. Imy have also learned the today. difference between told me toplans makewere tomorrow happen doing so them. Those submitted to God, and I’mIn always amazed what God blesses me with and what life can burden me with I have pressed my way through doors with a key that only at what I receive from God in response. as well. I compare it toalso knowing when be confident and hope provided. I have learned the to difference between when to be quiet, because what God blesses me with and what life can burden me with See, I have learned that even though I make plans, God has the someone may get it confused as well. I compare it to knowing when to be confident and final say. What I think is good for me, God knows what is truly best with arrogant. when to quiet, prepared because a for me. Even in my lowest moments, Godbeing hasbealready someone get it to confused path to higher ground for me. And even whenmay I choose follow my Make you tomorrow with being arrogant. own way, He redirects. happen today, but most importantly make itlife, count. Make you tomorrow I strive to live a better a life Life is but a whisper and today, but through most that ishappen connected to God we must putmake ourselves in a importantly count. obedience and grasping ait better position to hear what it Life is butofa what whisper andis understanding He desires telling us.put must in aall for me.we I admit thatourselves I don’t have positionand to sometimes hear what itI is the answers, make telling us. mistakes. It’s good to know that even L.inWatson when I get Terry off track life, God’s love never changes. Editor/Founder

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www.huamimagazine.com Editor In Chief

Terry L. Watson www.huamimagazine.com Alana Allen - Deputy Editor

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CONTENTS

MAY/JUNE 2022

ARKANSAS

Verlancia Tucker 18 Bohemiah Cares

On The Cover

Mrs. Arkansas International Arteja Stamps

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Soaring To The Top

Trooper Shawn Harvin

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Leadership At Its Finest

Ernest Sanders

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Huami Magazine Cutest Baby

Marrel Gravely Foushee

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Also Featured

Semaje Collier With the release of his new hit single, this talented musician is quickly moving in his lane. Learn more about his journey. Detroit, MI

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J Franklin Along with Lady E Specs, Wood You? Specs has launched a innovated method to sell eyewear. Jacksonville, FL Arkansas - May/June 2022

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Delvin Sullivan Using the experiences he learned as a child, he is helping the youth learn more about the power of wealth. Huntsville, AL HuamiMagazine.com

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Mrs. Arkansas International 2022 By Monica Montgomery Cover Photo by Brittany Grant Stage Photos Provided by Jenny Waldon

Beauty pageants…. As you read that, what came to mind? In our politically correct climate, most people dare not say. We can admit that for “pageant women,” beauty is a way of life. Atlantic City hosted the first Miss. America pageant in 1921. Pageantry has changed in the 102 years since bathing suit beauties took that inaugural walk down the boardwalk of Atlantic City, but not by much. Even all these years later, the image of beauty pageant contestants is burned in the minds of every little girl. Tall, thin, gorgeous, and, let’s be honest, most of the time white. In March of 2022, Arkansas crowned Arteja Stamps as its first African American Mrs. Arkansas International. This tremendous honor is no small feat, but Arteja, who has only been competing in pageantry for two years, says she was determined to take the crown because “I believe I’ve been called to be an advocate for those whose voices need to be heard. So, I use my crown as an elevated microphone.” Arteja was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. After marrying her high school sweetheart, she relocated to Saline County, Arkansas, in 2004. She and her husband, Jason Stamps, have made a life and a home for themselves and their two daughters Sasha, seventeen, and Sahara, fourteen. “There was some adjusting that had to be done in the beginning. Arkansas, specifically the area we live in, is very different from Chicago. But now I can’t imagine living anywhere else,” Arteja explained. One of the significant differences Arteja says she has become accustomed to is being in the minority. According to the 2020 census, the racial makeup of Saline County is 87.9% White, 8.4% Black or African American, 0.6% Native American, 1.3% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.1% from other races, and 1.60% from two or more races. 5.1% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race (U.S. Census Bureau quickfacts: United States 2020).

Photo Provided by Jazmyn Davis

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“Everyone knows all the black families in my town. That’s just how few of us there are here,” Arteja says with a laugh. “I don’t have a problem with that. My issue is that, for some reason, we are treated as if we don’t have a say in what happens in our local community. As a citizen and a parent, there are questions that I believe need answers, but those answers aren’t readily available to me and people who look like me,” Arteja goes on to explain. Why you might ask, would this thirty-eight-year-old professional, wife, and mother of two teens decide to enter the pageant world? “Because I needed to make a statement, and I needed to be heard. In a world where social media is raising our daughters to think that beauty only looks one way, I wanted to set the standard for my girls. I wanted them and other young women out there to know that they can be their authentic selves, no matter what others think of them,” Arteja said confidently. “The other reason was that no matter what we think of pageantry, it opens doors.” Arteja is passionate about helping the underserved. The way she’s doing that is with the F.A.C.S. foundation. F.A.C.S. stands for Fight Against Childhood Starvation. This program was officially birthed in 2018. The need came to her attention when she noticed food going missing from her pantry. “I would have just gone to the grocery store, and things would be missing. I finally asked my youngest daughter Sasha what she was doing with a family pack of Oreos and a big bag of Cheetos. She broke down and told me that she wasn’t eating them herself. She said her classmates didn’t always have snacks at school, so she would share the food with them at lunchtime. I felt so bad,” she said. “We started by connecting with the school and providing snacks for the kids, and things grew from there.” Today F.A.C.S. has four projects to help those who need a “little help sometimes.” Project 1: Project Feed a Family: This project is intended to help provide food during the Thanksgiving holiday. Project 2: Christmas Spirit – This project helps provide gifts and a little Christmas cheer to families in need. Project 3: SOS – This project helps people behind with their utilities. Project 4: Project Lifeline – This project is intended to assist families with small but essential monetary assistance—examples: Gas money, lunch money for children, or a Day Care bill. Arteja, whose profession is as a training manager, began to see gaps in support for and information for people of color in her area, and she wanted to do something about it. “Before I became Miss. Arkansas International, I campaigned for Ward 3 Aldermen in the city of Benton,” Arteja explained. “I knew going in that there was no way I would win, but my reason for running was again for my daughters. They needed to know that they have a voice, and if they don’t advocate for themselves and see things through, they give that up. The powers that be in this area needed to know that black women vote too, and despite popular belief, we will show up for the race!” she said with

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Photo Provided by Jazmyn Davis 10

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great conviction. “I wanted to shake up the status quo. I wasn’t trying to flip the table over; I just wanted to give it a good shake.” Never having participated in pageantry before, Arteja decided in 2019 that a state title would give voice to her plight and that of so many others. Confidence, conviction, and ambition pushed Arteja to give it all she had while being realistic about the challenges she would face. Although the world of pageantry has come a long way, the worldview of what is considered beautiful still has some evolving to do. The pressure for the average woman to be seen as beautiful is heavy, but when the job title you are aiming for literally has the words “beauty queen” in it, the pressure to achieve can be soul-crushing. Arteja’s message to young women in the industry is simple. You have to be enough without the crown to bear its weight. “I tell people all the time I am in no way a ‘pageant girl.’ My daughters started competing at the same time as I did, but we each had our own reasons. I had to make sure they were secure in who they were before they started because it can be a lot. I am honored to say that my daughters are also title holders in their categories. That said, I am not a pageant mom. Pageantry is very political, and if you are not careful, it will change you.”

do. I preach self-love, advocacy, and being your authentic self. I would be a hypocrite if I allowed myself to be presented as anyone but me.” As a wife and mother, Arteja is very protective of how she is portrayed in the media. Plunging necklines and airbrushed cheekbones were not going to work for her. Arteja knew that for her to be successful, she had to be the one who controlled her narrative. “I tell people I was a queen before the crown,” she explains. “I’m a smooth two-hundred-five pounds and loving it!” Arteja exclaimed, flashing bright eyes and a genuine smile. “I’m not going on a diet or changing a thing about myself. This is the Arteja who won because the judges called me ‘a breath of fresh air.’ You may be surprised how many women are willing to trade their moral compass for a crown.” Arteja says that although she doesn’t plan to compete anymore, she still plans to take part in the world of pageantry.

There are two major systems in pageantry. There is Arkansas America, which leads to Miss America, and there is Mrs. Arkansas International. “I attempted Miss America, but I always landed in the top ten. I felt like Arkansas America wasn’t looking for an African American queen right now. They were looking for someone who is the polar opposite of me. So I went to the international system,” Arteja explained. Her wisdom paid off. As Mrs. Arkansas International, Arteja now has the eyes and ears of people should couldn’t have reached on her own. “I’m grateful for this opportunity because I was having a hard time getting support for my foundation before. Now everyone can hear me,” she said, laughing. “I made it clear to the judges and anyone who would listen that I was not there to win a pageant. I was there to get the word out about childhood starvation in our local communities. I was there to bring attention to the racial divide in the Arkansas pageant system. I was there to show my daughters and all the little girls watching that beauty is not one size fits all. I now have a way to get my words out. It just so happens to have come with a sash and a crown.” Arteja admits that her “brand” of beauty was not readily accepted even after she won the crown. An incident with a photo-shopped picture caused Arteja to draw a line in the sand. “As I said, if you are not careful, this industry can change you. They will try to recreate you in their image, and that is something I refuse to

“As an advocate, I am always thinking about the young women who will come after me. So I’ve created my own pageant system, called Miss Arkansas F.A.C.S. The age categories are 0-75. My goal is to continue to bring attention to the F.A.C.S. foundation while doing my part to encourage and uplift all women in the world of pageantry.” The future is bright for Arteja and her family. After her year as Mrs. Arkansas International, we may see her name on the school board election ballot. The possibilities for a queen and those who embrace their authentic selves are endless. h

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“I Am Qualified” 12

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By Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Ernest Sanders Jr. People often say that it’s not how you start but how you finish that matters. As true as this statement is, we can’t ignore that it’s the journey that qualifies you in the end. Ernest Sanders Jr. Esq. is running for 5th Division Circuit Court Judge in Pulaski and Perry Counties and wants the voters to know that he is prepared and qualified to serve them. Sanders was born and raised in a small town in Crossett, in South East Arkansas. Raised by a single parent, Mr. Sanders’s beginning is reminiscent of many others. He and his three brothers were raised by his mother, and he credits his village for helping to raise him and his brothers with the love and values that have gotten him to where he is today. “My mom was, for the most part, a single parent. My father lived in the town, but my mother raised us. They say it takes a village, and it did. Between my grandmother and great-grandmother, aunts, uncles, and neighbors, we were well cared for,” Mr. Sanders explains.

Childhood innocence can be blinding, causing us not to perceive our reality. Growing up, Ernest didn’t understand that he was considered poor. “We were poor, but I didn’t realize it until I was in high school. And even then, poor meant I didn’t have all the things that the other kids had. Like the latest clothes and shoes,” Ernest explains. “This generation knows nothing about commodities. We received government food commodities like powdered milk, powdered eggs, rice, and the big block of cheese that didn’t melt. Things like that,” he continues with a laugh. “But, one thing for sure as a child, I can’t say I ever went to bed hungry or had no place to sleep. Sure, we were still buying our sneakers from the grocery store, but I had shoes. I tell my story often because I want young black men who look like me to see that their beginning doesn’t dictate their end.” Crossett, Arkansas, was still a heavily racially divided town when Ernest was a child, and although the schools were integrated, the neighborhoods were not. Black professionals weren’t a regular sighting.

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“When I was in 3rd grade, my teacher asked the class what they wanted to be when they grew up. I wanted to say something nobody else did. When she got to me, I said I wanted to be an Attorney. I can’t say where I got the idea from. It must have been something I saw on television, but at the time, it was different,” Ernest explained. This desire to be set apart planted a seed in young Ernest that is still bearing fruit today. Once in high school, Ernest excelled in academia, sports, and other extracurricular activities. “I worked hard to do my best no matter what it was. I was that kid who gave it everything I had no matter what.” In high school, Ernest started to see the world, his world, for what it was. As a young black male, he became aware of the racial injustices facing him and people like him. “I remember thinking, ‘That’s not right!’ and wanting to do something about it. That’s when becoming an attorney changed from being a childhood fantasy to a passionate desire. As a lawyer, I could make a difference.” Ernest attended the University of Central Arkansas, earning a B.A. in English and minoring in accounting. “My family didn’t have money for school, so I had to be practical about my education. I studied English because I was told Attorneys had to be good writers, but I minored in accounting just in case I didn’t get into law school,” he explained. Growing up, Ernest says the closest thing to a role model was Thurgood Marshall. Ernest was the first person in his family to go to college. He chose UCA because it wasn’t far from home, and he had friends there he could catch a ride home with on holidays. He participated in track and field at UCA, which helped cover room and board, and continued to work hard at realizing the dream set by his eight-year-old self. Ernest was never under any illusion of who he could trust in a small southern town like Crossett. He went to college with that same understanding. This was challenged when he met Dr. Maurice Webb and Dr. Norb Schedler. “Growing up in a racially divided town, there are some things you don’t do. Sure, we went to school together, but when we went home if you were black, you went to “Black Town.” If you were white, you went to “White Town.” In college, those boundaries, although not physical, impacted my thinking,” Ernest said. “Dr. Webb and Dr. Norb Schedler were the two most influential people in my life during undergrad. Dr. Webb helped me by finding additional scholarships my academics qualified me for. He also got me into the honors college, where I met Dr. Scheduler, the director. Dr. Schedler took me under his wing, and although I was grateful, I was suspicious at first. These two white men were doing all this to help me, and I wasn’t used to it. But they turned out to be great guys and amazing mentors.” With Dr. Schedler’s support, Ernest became the first black graduate of the UCA’s Honors College. In 1988, Ernest applied and was accepted to law school at The University of Virginia, Charlottesville. “When I told Dr. Schedler I was accepted into the UVA, he started jumping up and down with excitement. He

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went on and on about how great it was that I’d gotten in and how proud of me he was. ‘I said, well, yeah, but all of these schools have affirmative action programs. They probably let me in because I was black.’ Dr. Schedler stopped and looked me in the eye…. Thinking about what he said to me still gets me emotional after so many years,” Ernest says, taking a breath. “He looked me in the eye and said, ‘Ernest, you earned this. You are qualified, and don’t let anybody tell you anything different!’ It wasn’t until that moment that I understood how important it was that I saw myself as worthy. I wasn’t qualified because Dr. Schedler said I was. I was qualified because I had put in the work. I will forever be grateful to Dr. Schedler for helping me see that.” Ernest’s former mentor, Dr. Schedler’s words, have remained with him throughout his career. In each office and position Sanders held, he worked hard because he understood what being qualified really meant. It was vital that he proved himself and kept a good reputation. Not because he wanted to impress anyone but because he believed in what he was doing. As a result, Sanders was blessed to have many doors opened to him. After graduating from the University of Virginia in 1991, Ernest returned to Arkansas to work for the Little Rock City Attorney’s office. Next, he became a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney with the Sixth Judicial District in Pulaski County. Ernest was the first African American Division Chief for the 6th Judicial District when he was appointed Division Chief over the Youth Crimes Division. This was something Sanders was passionate about. “It dealt with young people, mostly young people of color who were underrepresented. My predecessor had just started the juvenile diversion program, and I was excited to oversee it because it presented a better option for teens arrested on non-violent offenses.” According to Youth.gov, the purpose of diversion programs is to redirect youthful offenders from the justice system through programming, supervision, and support.

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“What I loved about the program is that it gave alternatives for young people who probably shouldn’t have been arrested in the first place. It keeps them from the trauma of being booked and detained. It gave them a chance to make better choices and not have a criminal record follow them for the rest of their lives,” Ernest explained. From there, Ernest became an administrative law judge for the Arkansas State Parole Board. In February of 2010, Ernest was appointed Circuit Judge of the 5th Division Circuit Court in Pulaski and Perry Counties. Sanders presided over both civil and criminal cases as a circuit court judge. His appointment lasted one year. At the end of 2010, Sanders went into private practice. “I never set out to become a judge. Like anything else in my life, I wanted to do my best at whatever I set my hands to,” Ernest explains. “If I’m honest, my biggest motivation at the beginning for becoming an attorney was to escape poverty. I wanted to change my life, and in my pursuit, I learned that mine wasn’t the only life that mattered.” When he heard his friend and colleague was about to retire from the 5th Division Circuit Court position. His first reaction wasn’t to campaign for the position. “I love helping people, and my private practice allows me to do that. So, when several people, including my wife, suggested I run for election, I had to think about it. I knew it would be a large undertaking, and I wasn’t sure if this was the direction I wanted to take. But I kept hearing people say, you are qualified, and we really need someone of your quality and integrity in that position. After much prayer and consultations with family and friends, I decided that I was ready to take on the challenge. I was experienced, and having done the job before, felt I was prepared and qualified to serve as the circuit court judge.” As a man of faith, Ernest says he continued to seek God’s counsel concerning his choice to run. Then he says he received confirmation that he was heading in the right direction. “I was doing a firm walkthrough, and I shared somethings with one of the firm’s partners. He is well known in the legal community, and his endorsement carries a lot of weight. After the seated judge announced his retirement, that partner called and said, ‘I appeared before you during your appointment as a circuit judge, and you did such a great job that should you be elected, I have no doubt you would be a great judge.’ That was the confirmation I needed to know I was on the right path.” Running a campaign is expensive and exhausting, but Ernest believes that his hard work, experience, commitment to fairness, and belief that everyone deserves to be treated justly qualifies him to sit as the Circuit Court Judge of the 5th Division. He hopes that on election day, the people will agree and give him the opportunity to serve them. h

“If I’m honest, my biggest motivation at the beginning for becoming an attorney was to escape poverty. I wanted to change my life, and in my pursuit, I learned that mine wasn’t the only life that mattered.”

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T U C K E R By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Verlancia Tucker It has been said to never judge a book by its cover. For Verlancia Tucker, this assessment is spot on. She is the founder of BOHEMIA Cares, a non-profit organization that offers self-love programs while spreading mental health awareness. The quality programs provide enrichment, mentorship, outreach, educational consulting, and social-emotional learning to individuals and families. “BOHEMIA Cares is not just any nonprofit organization, we are a healing ministry. We allow individuals to share openly about self-love and mental illness in safe, nonjudgmental spaces. We allow God to shine through us so that others will know there is a living God and Savior. When people look and hear me, I want them to see and hear God,” she says. Verlancia grew up in the Delta (Lee County), Arkansas, and is the ninth daughter of ten children born to Jeff and Henrietta Tucker. She is also a mother, educator, mentor, advocate, personal development coach and survivor. Verlancia attended Lee High Schools in Marianna, Arkansas, and has earned a Master of Secondary Education degree and two Bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration, with majors in Advertising-Public Relations and Marketing from UA-Little Rock. She is an Arkansas Educator licensed in Business Technology and endorsed in Career Orientation and English as a Second Language, and has worked as a classroom teacher for ten years with mentorship and teacher supervisor experience. Furthermore, she currently serves as the Education Committee Chair for the Jacksonville Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Verlancia founded BOHEMIA Cares on January 8, 2018. It was an action she shared that God commissioned her to do. “I experienced mental illness at age 17, mainly due to my exposure to domestic violence. Yet, I was fortunate to graduate high school as an honor student, finishing in the top 10% of my graduating class. I attended a community college during my senior year in high school, all while battling the silent monster,” she says. Verlancia moved out on her own and enrolled in college at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock immediately after high school. “After graduating from high school, I thought I would become an accountant and a cosmetologist. After my first two accounting courses, that soon changed. Nonetheless, I graduated from barber school with barber and barber instructor licenses, but I couldn’t practice in that field due to neck and back issues,” she says. As she got older, she ignored the trauma from her early childhood but would find herself involved with another trying situation. Verlancia dated a guy who turned out to be a stalker. During that time, she also lost a family member to gun violence. “Life became so dark and hopeless, and mental illness attacked my mind yet once again,” she shares. Arkansas - May/June 2022

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“My mental stability plummeted again, and everything that could go wrong was going wrong. I realized that I could no longer manage my daily home life and teach school, and I needed mental counseling. I had to go get help, or death would have been the end result because I had already planned my suicide.” Years would pass, and Verlancia continued to battle depression with the assistance of medication. She also got married, had a son, and was divorced, all within a year. After being left to raise her son alone, Verlancia says she struggled to maintain a smile and work through the heartache and pain. During her trials, Verlancia says there were some bright moments also. “While my personal life was going downhill, my professional life was looking up. I landed a job at a middle school and taught Keyboarding, mentored at-risk girls, and served as the FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) Advisor. Through all of the hustle and bustle, Verlaneca says she lost herself. “Life became so cumbersome and overwhelming. My mental stability plummeted again, and everything that could go wrong was going wrong. I realized that I could no longer manage my daily home life and teach school, and I needed mental counseling. I had to go get help, or death would have been the end result because I had already planned my suicide,” she shares. Verlancia shares that she contemplated suicide because she was in a dark, dark place. Thankfully, she says, God intervened, and she endured countless sleepless days and nights filled with crying, worrying, despair, anxiety, and bitterness. “Even though I managed to attain college degrees and accolades, it meant absolutely nothing because my inner joy and peace were in a place of unrest and discontent. I replayed a lot of negative thoughts and actions. Honestly, I felt as if I had lost my soul. I had a real fistfight with the devil to regain my soul. It was God and therapy that saved my life. My therapist taught me coping strategies, and I learned how to set healthy boundaries for my peace and healing. I then began to shed the resentment and pain that I had harbored for years. I learned so much about myself during the therapy sessions. I realized that I had been battling with myself for a long time. I learned how to identify my triggers and be okay with eliminating toxic people from my inner circle. I realized that what occurred in my life was not a mistake or error. I also asked God why I endured so much pain, heartache, and suffering. God told me, “In order for you to be able to help other people, you had to go through it.” In that moment, I gained a sense of peace and acceptance, and God began to speak the vision of this organization to me,” she says. Verlancia says she is inspired by people who push past adversity and defy the odds. “I am inspired by people who love others when others mistreat them and those who value other people, regardless of where they come from or what they look like,” she says. Her friends of more than 45 years, Pam, Cita, Relynda, Claudette, and Tammy have inspired her the most. “They have been by my side through it all, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the indifferent. They have allowed me to be me and embraced me when my life was in shambles, and they celebrate with me today. They have challenged me to become better, and are my accountability partners in life.” Moving forward, Verlancia hopes to write adult and children’s books about mental health and self-love. She also hopes to open a charter school one day, and open a transition home for single mothers who struggle with mental illness. Her personal goal is to become a professional print model. To learn more about Varlancia and BOHEMIA Cares, please visit their website. h

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SEMAJE Nobody But You, God

By Dorjea’ McClammey Photos Provided by Semaje Now, reader, you will want to remember this name, Semaje. The 29-year-old breakout singer hails from Detroit, Michigan. As the middle child of three, Semaje’s parents made sure he and his brothers Demarcyon and Noah never missed a day of church. He has carried those values throughout his life, and the only time he did not make it to church was when the Covid 19 pandemic hit. Semaje Collier describes his style as contemporary, pop, urban and funky. “I am bringing a new urban inspirational sound to the music industry,” he says. Growing up in the church helped Semaje develop his talent. First, he started in the church choir and then sang with the praise team. On his own time, he would spend hours listening to and studying the sounds of J.Moss, James Moore, Mary Mary, Usher, Karen Clark, Daryl Coley and Michael Jackson being two of my biggest influences. Daryl Coley’s vocal abilities inspired Semaje, and it’s quite noticeable their voices sound similar. “I was amazed by Coley’s riffs and runs and the amount of conviction and presence he gave when he sang,” he shares. As for Michael Jackson, he was amazed by his ability to take risks and start trends. He shares, “Michael was confident in what he did and kept doing it regardless of what others thought about him. I am moved by Michael’s unadulterated ability to captivate audiences. I am inspired by Michael Jackson vocal ability, his distinctive tone, one of a kind vibrato. The way he layered and stacked his background vocals on his records is completely insane. I see so much of myself in Michael.” His journey as a musician has been nothing short of a blessing. He tried out for the gospel singing contest “Sunday Best,” and although he made it to the judging round, he did not make it all the way. “I got a little discouraged and asked God what He was trying to tell me? I realized it was not in God’s plans for me, but I didn’t allow that experience to discourage me. I kept singing, ministering, and putting out music covers,” he says. Arkansas - May/June 2022

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Things began to change for the better for Semaje. One day, he was blessed with the opportunity to work with Fred Jerkins, who has also worked with Dark Child to produce hits for artists Destiny’s Child, Beyonce, Brandy, and more. Fred featured Semaje as the lead vocalist on his song “Reason of Praise” which, of course, landed at the number four position on the Billboard charts. Semaje described the moment as surreal. “Seeing all the different plaques on the wall for songs such as Lose My Breath, Deja VU, the Boy Is Mine, and Michael Jackson’s Rock My World; I couldn’t believe that I was in the studio working with the same legendary producer that worked with Beyonce and Micheal Jackson and Now I am working with him, this is a dream! I grew up saying I wanted to work with the Dark Child squad,” Semaje shares with excitement. After that experience, things kept rolling for Semaje. One day during the pandemic, the accomplished gospel artist, Deitrick Haddon called and told him to get on the social media platform Clubhouse, and play some of his covers. He played his cover of “All I Do” by Stevie Wonder, and everyone went crazy. Semaje says in no time, his inbox became full of messages from producers and artists wanting to work with him. Soon he was speaking with Tyscot Records, known for their artists such as PJ Morton, John P. Kee, and Anthony Brown. After talking for about two to three months, they offered him a partnership deal. They worked together to put out his cover to Bill Withers Lovely Day, which debuted at the number nine position on the Billboard Charts. He has continued to work with Tyscot Records alongside Anesha Birchett, who has experience with artists Beyonce, Justin Bieber, H.E.R., Mary Mary and more, but now she’s stepping into a new role as Executive Producer of his upcoming debut album. “My sound, my creativity, vocal ability and interpretation of music has changed

“I desire to share with the world that no matter what the circumstances are, nobody is exempt from living a good life. We all have gotten it wrong but we serve a God who can make us right.” since working with the gamechanger Anesha, I can’t imagine doing this without her,” says Semaje. Semaje has finally found his distinctive lane and sound with iconic producer Shajuan Andrews from Brooklyn, New York. “He’s the fresh new sound that was missing in music, he’ll be listed as one of the greatest of all times,” says Semaje. The three of them are working together to produce Semaje’s debut album, including his latest single, You written by Jamel Smith which debuted April 22nd and landed in Top 20 Billboard Charts.. Semaje loves being able to change the world through his music. “I desire to tell people that no matter what they have done in life, no matter how many mistakes they have made, we serve a God who makes us right,” he says. “Nobody is exempt from living a good life through God.” Now we know about his musical inspirations, but Semaje says his family is his biggest inspiration. “My father, mother and big brother demarcyon and grandmothers have played a huge part in making me the person I am today, mainly by setting such highexamples to live up to,” he says. Semaje is currently attending Oakland University in Rochester Hills, earning his bachelor’s degree in human resources in public relations. He has recently welcomed his nephew, Denver James, into the world. “ The greatest thing that’s happen in 2022 is my nephew, says Semaje” You can expect a lot from Semaje in the near future. This will include albums, tours, and radio appearances. He is also working on receiving more endorsements, including being featured in commercials, “I want to bring more faith to television and tell the world about Jesus,” he says. His advice to others who may have a passion or a dream such as his is clear and concise. “Never adjust your life to what makes sense to another individual as long as you continue to follow the voice of God. Doing that way, you can’t go wrong.” To learn more about Semaje, check out his Instagram @isemaje and on Facebook and Twitter at Semaje Collier. You can also find his music on all platforms. h

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The Mobile Eyewear Experience Lady E Specs & Wood You? Specs by J. Franklin By Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by The Mobile Eyewear Experience

The fashion industry is constantly changing, and entrepreneurs like Erika Hendrix and James Smith are always looking for new and better ways to give customers what they want. Erika Hendrix wore glasses for years, but she could no longer wear contacts after a stroke in her left eye. Erika discovered that wearing glasses was an outlet for her creative side. “My glasses are the one fashion accessory that I’m very unreserved about. I wear a lot of bold colors and unique styles. My choice of eyewear allows me to be one hundred percent me!” Like most of us who have become accustomed to online shopping, Erika was a consumer looking for something special when she found Wood You? Specs by J. Franklin. Erika became a repeat customer and came to the attention of owner, designer, and entrepreneur James Smith. “I started this business, Wood You? Specs by J. Franklin, five years ago and never thought it would grow to where it is now,” James shared. “I got into this industry because I’ve always been a fashion-forward kind of guy. People would see me and how I dressed and carried myself and say, ‘Hey, where did you find that?’ When I started posting pictures of the glasses, people all over noticed, including Christian comedian Jonathan Slocomb. He reached out and became my brand ambassador, and things just took off from there,” James explained. James is also someone who mentors other entrepreneurs, specifically in designer eyewear. “I’ve helped several people start their own designer eyewear line, and everyone has enjoyed their individual level of success.”

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Erika was surprised when James reached out to her in 2019 about launching her designer eyewear line. “James sent me a DM and asked had I ever thought about launching my own line of designer frames. I had never thought about it before he suggested it. I never saw myself as a fashion designer, but I know what I like. This was an opportunity for me to share the creative side of myself with the world.” Erika has been the executive pastor at her local church for twenty-six years, and she has worked in the mental health field for nineteen years. These two careers require a great deal of self-sacrifice with little room for self-expression or individual creativity. Launching Lady E. Specs allowed Erika to show a side of her that very few people get to see. So, she decided to go for it. After talking to James and mapping out the Lady E. Specs Eyewear line, she and James went full speed ahead with launching the virtual marketplace for Lady E. Specs. James has helped several other people launch designer eyewear lines, but none with the exuberance and tenacity that he found in Erika. “Erika was excited about the new venture, and it showed in her focus. She took the information and guidance I gave her and put everything she had into making Lady E. Specs a success,” James explains. Erika is a bi-vocational Marketplace Influncer, and James works in full-time ministry. After working together, they found they share a lot of the same ideas about where the industry was and where it could go. Both Erika and James agreed although they were in two different states, they worked well together. It was no surprise that when James was looking for a partner for his next big venture, he called on Erika. “You wouldn’t have known that we didn’t live in the same state. I live in North Carolina, and James lives in Florida. In fact, we didn’t meet in person until we launched The Mobile Eyewear Experience in March of this year,” Erika shared.

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Although online shopping isn’t new, the pandemic pushed business owners like Erika and James. Brick and mortar businesses were once the standard, but now virtual markets have taken over. Consumers have become accustomed to the luxury of shopping for their favorite items from anywhere. This was the inspiration behind The Mobile Eyewear Experience.


“Since the pandemic, my eyes have been opened to the benefit of giving people the flexibility to choose how they shop,” Erika explained. “My business was launched during the pandemic, and I didn’t think twice about whether I wanted a physical store or a virtual one. I can deliver a quality shopping experience without the overhead and hassle of a brick-and-mortar business. The Mobile Eyewear Experience takes this idea of mobility and flexibility to another level.” Erika and James’s vision is to revolutionize how people shop for glasses. The Mobile Eyewear Experience is a mobile showroom that goes where the customer is. Customers book their custom experience online, and everything comes to you. Most people who wear glasses are used to going to the optometrist and selecting from rows of frames. You look for ones you like that might fit your personality, try them on, and purchase if they fit. “The vision is to bring a customizable luxury experience to you. Customers are free to select from Lady E. Specs designs or Wood You? Specs by J. Franklin, but they also have the option to design their frames. They can choose the style, shape, and materials the frames are made from. Consumers can put their names on their glasses. They can put logos and names of organizations. James explains that there is no limit on the design, and the customer is in control. With The Mobile Eyewear Experience, you will have all your local optometrist’s options. They work with a trusted optometrist who can fill any prescription. Customers can get all the additions to their lenses they would as if they walked into a store. “Some places won’t put lenses in frames they don’t sell because they are worried about damaging them. If the customer sends us the prescription, we will take care of everything. It’s all about convenience. Our goal is to be a one-stop-shop for all their eyewear needs,” James says confidently. There is only one mobile eyewear experience like Lady E and Wood You? Specs by J. Franklin located in Jacksonville, FL, and plans are in the works to launch a second mobile eyewear experience in North Carolina. For now, if you are not located in Florida, you can still have a customizable experience online. New things are hitting the market every day. Vision, planning, and perseverance separate the fly-by-night ideas from those that stand the test of time. With the formula and foundation that Erika Hendrix and James Smith have laid, I have no doubt we will see The Mobile Eyewear Experience all across the country. h

www.jfranklinwoodyouspecs.com 904-595-7351

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MAGAZINE

Cutest Baby

Marrel Gravely Foushee The son of Sunny Gravely Foushee and Marrel Foushee

Arkansas - May/June 2022

To submit photographs to be placed in the Huami Magazine Cutest Baby feature, please send a detailed email to huami.cutestbaby@gmail.com

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Public Service: A Path to Destiny By Monica Montgomery Photos Provided by Tory Bass Photography

Whether it’s in his church, his local community, or as a North Carolina State Trooper, Master Trooper Shawn Harvin’s commitment to public service shows in a big way. As a young man, Shawn knew he was destined to help others. His question was, how would that look? Born and raised in Greensboro, N.C., Shawn attended James B. Dudley High school. When Shawn was a student, the student population was predominantly black. As a student, Shawn believes he and his classmates weren’t given the support needed to explore their career options post-high school. “I always knew I wanted to work in some public service area, but I had no idea of how to get started or who to talk to,” Shawn explained. “Our school counselors weren’t effectively guiding us in the area of career development when I was in school.” Although grateful for his education, Shawn admits that African American students were not being prepared and informed in the same way their counterparts were. When Greensboro’s first black Police Chief, Sylvester Daughtry, visited Dudley high school, Shawn’s vision of the future began to take shape. “It just happened that when I was trying to figure out what public service looked like for me and where to start, I was given a little divine help. The first black chief of police, Sylvester Daughtry, came and spoke at our school. I was impressed and excited. This was someone who looked like me, and there he was, the chief of police. As a young black male, it said that if he could do it, I could do it too. That was a very important moment for me.” Shawn admits as he looks back that his excitement faltered when the realities of life hit. “I wish we would have had what students today have in the way of counselors and mentors. We needed people willing to expose us to all that life had to offer beyond high school. That way, I could have had a clear plan of what I wanted to do. What we got instead was the pressure to graduate. It was all they focused on, ‘get out of school, get out of school,’ and that’s what I did. Without knowing what my next steps should have been, my dreams were just dreams. My reality was I needed to earn money to live.” After graduating from high school in 1992, Shawn says he worked a few small jobs. When first daughter Jonquil Smith was born, Shawn knew it was time to get serious. His serious first job was with Cone Mill in Greensboro, N.C. “I was just happy to have a steady paycheck at that point. I had a new set of adult responsibilities, and they couldn’t wait for me to figure out the future. Having children has a way of making you grow up fast,” Shawn shared. Shawn worked at the mill for three to four years, but just as he was becoming complacent, he was reminded that life had more to offer, and so did he. “It was a good job, with great benefits, and I was making decent money, allowing me to take care of my daughter. But I wasn’t following my passion for public service,” Shawn confessed. “My mom didn’t want me to settle, and she would regularly remind me that working at the mill for the rest of my life what not it. That was not a career; it was just a job. Her wisdom helped get me back on track.” Holding tight to his dreams and his mother’s words of wisdom in his ear, Shawn explored different avenues that led to the path he was meant to follow. While at Cone Mills, Shawn joined the in-house fire brigade. It was just the spark he needed to pursue the destiny he believed awaited him. “I applied to the Greensboro Fire Department several times but kept getting denied. Then a friend told me about the BLET (Basic Law Enforcement Training) program. Becoming a firefighter was my first choice, but law enforcement was also a way that I could serve my community, so I went for it.” On the advice of his friend Shawn, sponsored by A&T State University, he took the BLET course at Rockingham Community College. According to the North Carolina States Attorney’s website, The Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET) Curriculum is designed to prepare entry-level individuals with the cognitive and physical skills needed to become certified law enforcement officers in North Carolina (NC DOJ, Basic law enforcement training 2019).

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“From the moment I started as a police officer, I knew it was for me,” Shawn explains with a big smile. “Sure, there were many other public service jobs out there, but I was hooked after my first taste of law enforcement.” Not every member of Shawn’s family was as sure about the path he had taken, but still supportive. “My mother was worried about me becoming a police officer initially. She tried to get me to look into a position at the post office and everything. My father was a stonemason, and my brother worked construction, so this was totally different.” Although Shawn met his wife at A&T, they lost touch after he left. They reconnected in at the end of 2002 and were married in June of 2005. From the start of his journey, the love and support of his family are what has kept him going. “My wife and my daughters are everything to me. I am a man of faith, and it matters to have a praying wife to cover you every time you step out the door. In law enforcement, nine times out of ten, we see the worst of the worst. Death, tragedy, and people at their absolute worst and it’s hard. So, you have to have, in my opinion, a strong faith in God and the support of a loving family. Without those, I don’t think I would be sane.”

After completing the BLET, Shawn started his career as a law enforcement officer on the campus of A&T State University in 1995. “I was grateful for my job at the mill, but I knew I had to do something to build a future for myself and my daughter. Taking the BLET was a step in the right direction,” Shawn explained. It’s been said that when you are on the right path for your life, you will find everything you need for the journey along the way. While working at A&T State, Shawn first met his wife, Keffney, a student at the University at the time. Years later, they would meet again and marry, but she says she knew that he was her husband from the first moment they met. Once Shawn started in law enforcement, he knew that education was the way to move forward. While working at A&T as a law enforcement officer, Shawn went to school at Guilford Technical Community College, where he earned his associate’s degree in Criminal Justice Security in 1998. He received his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Homeland Security from Liberty University in 2016, and his master’s in Criminal Justice with a minor in Homeland Security from Cumberland University, Kentucky, in 2018. “In high school, all I wanted to do was get out. When I worked at the mill, I learned that I wouldn’t get far with only a high school diploma. Once I started at A&T, I set my sights on what would move me forward in my chosen career path… more education.” As Shawn continued to study, he took advantage of opportunities along his path. In 2000, Shawn left A&T and started at the Thomasville Police Department in Thomasville, N.C. After a year there, Shawn went to the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). In 2002, the law enforcement side of the NC DMV merged with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol. Shawn officially became a trooper in 2006.

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Shawn and his family find themselves walking a fine line in the recent clash between civilians and law enforcement. It is hard to celebrate him as an officer when there seems to always be a negative connotation around that uniform. As a black male and a law enforcement officer, you would think he would struggle between the two worlds. Shawn’s perspective is this… “You have to know what you are out there for. My job is to serve the people, even those who don’t want me to. I still have to and want to help them. I treat every situation and individual with respect because that is what we all deserve. It can be difficult at times because I still have young daughters who hear negative things at school or in the neighborhood. That’s why we talk with our children and we communicate regularly. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that my children know who their father is and that I love them.” He also said his family can’t wear any paraphernalia outside of the home in fear of putting us in harm’s way. As Master Trooper Shawn Harvin walks his destiny path, he continues to honor God, himself, his family, and people have noticed. Shawn received the North Carolina 2021 State Trooper of the year award and has been featured on Fox 8 News “Highlighting Heroes.” Shawn works with several community service groups, including his church, True Salvation Christian Fellowship, and the Masons. He is a certified EMS for Guildford County, and he teaches law enforcement at several local community colleges. It’s clear that Shawn loves what he does, but he is realistic about the future. “I’m forty-nine years old, soon to be fifty. I know I won’t be able to do what I do and keep up this pace forever, but I will do whatever I can to make a difference while I can. When I retire, I will focus on my other passion, photography.” Like with every other thing Shawn puts his hands to, he is no slouch as a photographer either. His photos have been featured on the Food Network channel, Essence Magazine, and MunaLuci Bride Magazine. Some of his pictures will also be featured at Massanutten Ski Lodge Resort. “I want to build something for my daughters. Something they can be proud of and that will help carry them forward. Something that will help them as they discover their path to destiny.” h


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The Wealthy Child “I am a Change Agent on the path to create a culture of wealth for the next generation”

By Terry L. Watson Photos Provided by Ronald Pollard

Delvin Sullivan is a Dave Ramsey-certified Financial Coach who believes that “The earlier money can make sense to a child, the better chance they have at being financially responsible adults.” A native of Huntsville, AL, Delvin is the author of The Wealthy Child, a book designed to teach youth about money and the world’s economic process. As someone who grew up in public housing, Delvin’s passion always led him to mentoring youth and posing as a positive role model for kids, particularly young men. Using the basic principles of wealth, he published his book to level the playing field and offer all children the opportunity to become wealthy through knowledge. Some of the topics discussed in the Wealthy Child production are budgeting, banking, investing, credit, income, and assets. “I am introducing children to the basics of financial literacy in a fun and engaging way and teaching kids about the importance of earning, saving, and spending responsibly. My goal is to ensure they understand the importance of earning, saving, and spending responsibly,” Delvin says. In addition to being an author, personal finance coach, and entrepreneur, Delvin is also a US Army veteran and recipient of the Unsung Hero Award. He holds degrees from Alabama A&M University and Murray State University. He is married to Felichia, and they have two children, Tierra and Jordan, along with three grandchildren. Delvin shares, “I began teaching at the Sparkman Homes Boys and Girls Club in 2017, and decided to develop a book and workbook that would give the students something they could take home with them.” The vision for The Wealthy Child is connected to Delvins awareness of the many challenges that youth face, especially within his community. “Studies show 80% of crimes that send people to prison have something to do with money. I want to change that narrative by teaching children how to earn, save, grow, and respect the dollar at an early age,” he says.

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He shares that he loves being able to change the course of a child’s life by ensuring he or she is financially literate. He is also inspired by youth development and making a difference in his community. Growing up in similar situations that many of the young individuals he’s helping are, Delving feels that he has a sincere responsibility to create realistic opportunities for them. “I made it to where I am because of the men placed in my life at the Boys and Girls Club. It was Ugene Phillips, Cedric Wherry, and Tyrone Langford. They would preach, “if you want to be an eagle, don’t hang around turkey’s”. That kept me from becoming a product of my environment,” Delvin says. Delvin’s future goal is to continue to change the lives of millions of children by introducing them to the world’s economic process. To learn more about The Wealthy Child, please visit their website. h

Delvin Sullivan The Wealthy Child

www.thewealthychild.net 256-468-3227

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