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The West Tennessee Examiner Dream Achievers Black History Edition

Myrtle Russell‘s desire to write stems from two things: her childhood love for print media and her passion to share what she has learned over 25 years of service in health promotion. In simple terms, she loves to teach and help others and is inspired by a quote from one of her favorite writer’s, Maya Angelou: “If you get give, if you learn teach.” Myrtle has taught health education and personal development to thousands of students and facilitated numerous training workshops for health professionals, civic groups and faith-based organizations. She presently enjoys conducting personal growth workshops and providing coaching services for individuals of all ages.

West Tennessee Examiner Dream Achievers Most of us had childhood dreams of what we wanted to be when we grew up. For some of us those dreams were so vivid that nothing could deter us. Some abandoned the dream, only to revisit it later. And for a few of us, it’s probably a good thing that those dreams didn’t come true.  Whether the honorees are living their childhood dreams or their accomplishments are the result of years of starting over, there a few things that they all achievers have in common. First and foremost they know that there are different pathways to success and we must teach march to the beat of our own drum in order to follow the path that best fits us.  Secondly, achievers respect and embrace change. They understand that change is a constant in life; that the world revolves around change; and it is oftentimes change that sparks creativity and innovation. Thirdly, achievers are tenacious.  You might slow them down but you won’t stop them. Trial and error, coupled with passion and ambition leave them with no choice but to “keep on going.” A fourth thing that all achievers have in common is a desire to help others through service.  They realize that service benefits both the servant and the recipient.  And lastly, achievers know that success is not final, that it is a process and not an event. I think they would all agree with a quote from author James Allen’s most famous book, As a Man Thinketh:  “The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn, the bird waits in the egg, and in the highest vision of the soul a waking angel stirs. Dreams are these edlings of realities.” Myrtle Russell

Patrick S. Willis Jackson Police Deputy Chief Patrick S. Willis had no desire to become a police officer when he was growing up. In fact, he wanted to earn a degree in physical education, play football and graduate from college. But, God had other plans for him, plans that Willis now wholeheartedly embraces. Willis’ parents, Cleveland and Helen, taught their children that nothing was impossible with God and that with hard work and the Lord on their side, they would be successful. “My father and mother instilled in me and my siblings that, given the opportunity, we could accomplish any feat which we pursued,” Willis said. “They told me that as long as I put God first and tried to the best of my ability to emulate Christ, that I would be successful in my endeavors in life.” Born in Jackson, Tennessee, Willis, who was a teen parent, graduated from Jackson Central Merry High School and was a member of the 1980 State Runner-Up Team. He married shortly after high school. He said the “responsibilities I inherited as a young husband and father led me to seek secure employment.” Willis was hired by JPD in 1983, obtaining his commission on March 25, 1983 from the State of Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission. But, after only nine months, Willis resigned [left in good standing]. Willis attended Jackson State Community College, University of Tennessee at Martin and graduated summa cum laude from Bethel University (in McKenzie, Tenn.), earning his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in August 2012. Nearly two years later, he earned a master’s degree in criminal justice from Bethel University in May 2014. Within his 31 years of employment with JPD, Willis has served as a patrolman for seven years, laterally transferred to S.W.A.T. (Special Weapons and Tactics) for three years. In 2014, he was promoted to deputy chief over the Operational Support Bureau in 2014 and still holds that position. Willis added, “It’s important to establish reachable goals and to choose the right mentors to help you achieve your goals... Be focused and self-disciplined and to have faith that they can withstand the challenges, biases, and often disappointment that life presents. Nothing worthwhile comes without some trials and tribulations. What God has for you no man can hinder! Just make sure in all you do, that you strive to be fruitful for God.”

Jerald Skinner Jerald Skinner is known by many as “Radio Rasheed”, a West Tennessee disc jockey and program director for Thomas Media, and can be heard during the week on 96 Kix and Hot 96.1. He has had the no. 1 morning showing since his third year at the station and now makes decisions on everything that goes across the airways. Radio Rasheed, 48, was born in Jackson, Tenn. to Jerald L. and Loretta Skinner. He considers the cities of Trenton, Dyer, Bradford and Milan his hometowns because he was raised in those Gibson County cities. After graduating in 1985, he Guard Army Reserve. 

joined the National

Radio Rasheed hadn’t planned to become a DJ or a program director. He wanted to play baseball. But, after hearing an electronic dance song by Kraftwerk, a German electronic music band, Radio Rasheed was taken in by the sounds and found a new passion. “I just really started studying electronic dance music,” he said. “It wasn’t popular in the United States at the time. I was really just infatuated by the electronic dance sound.” “Not a radio DJ, I just wanted to be the battle DJ,” Radio Rasheed said. “I was scratching, mixing, break-dancing and rapping. So, that’s what I wanted to be and I stuck with that. And when “Planet Rock” came out, it was over... When Run-DMC came out with “It’s like That”, I was already mixing and DJing. I was ahead of the game.” Radio Rasheed said his dad’s strictness helped him cultivate his talent because he had to be at home before dark and he wasn’t out chasing girls or running with gang members. He said he learned to embrace his alone time by being creative, practicing DJing and singing. Radio Rasheed added, “It doesn’t matter where you from or what you are going through, you can always help somebody.” Radio Rasheed said his advice to those who are trying to accomplish their dreams is to “slow down and listen to the elderly.” “Don’t be afraid to try something different,” he said. “Be something different...Don’t come out trying to do what somebody is doing. If you are, take it to the next level and do it your own way...When you run across someone who has lived a good, long life, you always pay attention to them because they didn’t get there being stupid. That means they’ve been through a lot that can help you and if they can tell you something, it can keep you from going through something, if you just listen.”

Casshawndra Sain
 Casshawndra (Gillispie) Sain and her twin sister Deshawndra share similar backgrounds and a similar passion for helping youth through education and sports. The 39-year-old, married, mother of five grew up in Jackson, Tenn. and just as her sister did, she attended West High School, graduated from South Side High School and attended Jackson State Community College, where she played basketball. The twins’ educational path diverged for a time when Casshawndra went to Lambuth University, but she did attend Bethel University, where she received her master’s degree in education administration. “My dream was being a teacher and also playing professional basketball,” Sain said. “I wanted to encourage children.” Sain is now an assistant principal (supervising over 34 staff members), over the exceptional students and athletic director at South Side High School. Sain said her parents, father Jonas Gillipisie III and mother Pearlie, were supportive and encouraging as their daughters worked toward their dreams. She also credited T. Willie Tyson, a basketball coach she and her sister met in 7th grade, as inspiring her to achieve her dreams. “He took the time out to talk to us about life and was very positive,” Sain said. Sain said it took hard work, a lot of hours and persistence to work towards her dreams and that playing sports also taught her lessons about life. “I played basketball at Jackson State and worked,” Sain said. “I took online courses and studied when my children were asleep. It took a lot of time and dedication. I was really hard on myself while I was striving for excellence.” Sain said her advice to others who are working towards their dreams is to figure out what you want and then take the steps, small and big, to accomplish them. “Know what it is you want to do and set some short-term, measurable goals, as well as long-term goals,” Sain said. She added, “Keep God first, pray a lot, seek God and pray over your dreams. Trust and believe God.”

Deshawndra Gillispie

Unlike most people, Deshawndra Gillispie did not come into this world alone. Born to Jonas Gillispie III and his wife Pearlie, Deshawndra and her twin sister, Casshawndra (Gillispie) Cain, were welcomed into the world 39 years ago. Since that time, Deshawndra has been on track to accomplish her dream of having a positive impact on young people.

“My children inspired me to reach my dreams,” Deshawndra said. “I wanted to provide a better life for them. I wanted to be an example to them, especially since I was out making a positive impact on other young people.” Deshawndra grew up in Jackson, attending West High School (before the school was closed) and finished her high school years at South Side High School. She attended Jackson State Community College on a two-year basketball scholarship, majored in early childhood education at The University of Tennessee at Martin and received her master of arts in education degree at Bethel University. Now, she is an assistant girls basketball coach for Liberty High School, the Special Education Transition Case Manager for her school district in the Jackson-Madison County Schools System, the Z Hope coordinator for the Nu Gamma Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., in Jackson, and a youth teacher at her church (Cane Creek Missionary Baptist Church). She has also worked with the Boys & Girls Club and coached the girls, boys and co-ed basketball teams for her church (winning three championships in the church league three years in a row in the 14 to 18 year old boys’ team). She also created a charity event called “Ballin’ in the New Year”, which she started after Casshawndra’s home was burglarized one year. Now she uses the event to raise money for other charities. “Everything I do, I do it as unto the Lord,” Deshawndra said. “ I want to be an example of Him on earth.” Deshawndra said the murder of her oldest daughter’s father also drove her to work hard to accomplish her dreams. “My oldest daughter’s father was murdered when she was four,” she said. “That was a push for me to be all I could be for her since she would only have one parent.” Deshawndra added, “I would tell others that it’s never too late to reach your dreams. If you want something, go out and get it.”

Dr. Monica Scott Dr. Monica Clayborne Scott may have grown up in a single parent home, but through the countless sacrifices and support of her mother Virginia, Scott has proudly excelled in her 10-year career in higher education to honor her mother and make her happy. “Growing up, I knew that I wanted to make my mother proud,” Scott said. “Being a product of a single parent home, my mother made countless of sacrifices for me and my future. I have the dream of making my mother proud and being able to pay her back for everything that she has done for me.” Growing up in Memphis, Tenn., the 31-year-old Lane College director of Admissions is the daughter of Virginia and Emmitt Johnson. She graduated from East High School, where she was a member of the French Club, the Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) and the Debate Team. Scott went on to attend and graduate from Lane College, in Jackson, Tenn., with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies in 2007. While attending Lane, she was a member of the Pre-Alumni Council and was initiated into the Beta Chi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. Three years later, Scott received her master’s degree in business administration from Bethel University in 2010. Four years after that, Scott received her doctorial degree in educational leadership in 2014. Scott has now served in various leadership roles throughout her 10 years in higher education, including serving as officer manger of Admissions, director of Alumni Affairs, Orientation and Success instructor and executive assistant to the vice president of Institutional Advancement. Scott said there are a few people who have encouraged her to reach her dreams. “First, my mother always has been a constant source of support,” Scott said. “She instilled in me that I can do whatever it is I want to do if I put my mind to it. Another source of support has been mentors that I’ve met at Lane College. Those include but are not limited to: Dr. and Mrs. Wesley McClure, Dr. and Mrs. Glenn Vaulx, Dr. Sharron Taylor Burnett and of course my husband, Ian.” Scott, who is also a mother of two, said there are two things she does to continue reaching her dreams. “I am working towards my dream every day,” Scott said, “by working hard and trusting in the Lord.” Scott’s advice to those who are pursuing their dreams is to “never give up.” “Every day that you wake up is an opportunity to make your dreams a reality,” she said.

Ian Scott Growing up in Jackson, Tenn., Ian DeVol Scott’s dream was to be involved with sports in some capacity. Now 35, Scott is currently the director of compliance and athletic advisor for the Office of Intercollegiate Athletics for Lane College. Scott said his parents, Gregory and Sherrill, “were very big on education and I always wanted to make them proud and put a smile on their faces.” “I believe their strong support in any endeavor of my life has helped me achieve my dreams and goals,” Scott said. Scott attended North Side High School, graduating in May 1999. During his high school years, he participated in football, was a Beta Club member and in Future Homemakers of America (FHA), which is now Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). He went on to attend the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, where he majored in psychology and graduated in December 2003. Scott furthered his education by attending Bethel University, in McKenzie, Tenn., where he earned his master’s degree in business administration. He is currently in the process of completing his dissertation for a doctoral degree in higher education with a concentration in executive leadership and administration from Union University. He will graduate and receive his degree in August. Scott said his parents and his wife, Monica, have encouraged him to reach his dreams throughout the years. “My mother and father have always encouraged me,” said Scott, who is a father of two. “They have provided me with exposure to all aspects of education, the world, and most of all, they have encouraged me to keep God first in my life and to never quit on goals that I set for myself. I must not forget my wife, Monica, who encourages me every day to achieve my goals personally and spiritually. She is the one of many who encouraged me to pursue my doctoral degree.”


Before taking his current position, Scott worked at Lane College as the technology/classroom support staff for four years and the SAP & Academic Retention advisor for three

Scott said that he is continuing to pursue his dreams every day and thanks God for all He has done. “I wake up every morning thanking God for the blessings he has already bestowed upon me so far, which drives me and encourages me that I can do anything that I put my mind to,” Scott said. Scott said his advice to those who are trying to reach their dreams are to keep God first and to never quit. Scott gave this credo to encourage others: “Dream it. Believe it. See it. Tell it. Plan it. Work it. Enjoy it.”

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Bo Arnold Bo Arnold, a 53-year-old native of Henderson, Tenn., always wanted to be like his father, William, Jr. “My father was a hunter,” said Arnold, who currently resides in Jackson, Tenn. “He always trained and people paid him for his services. I always admired how he was able to bring different cultures together. He worked with blacks, whites (etc.). He was my idol and being like him was my dream.” With some sage advice from his mother about finding purpose and using that to build your dream, Arnold being developing his talents. “

My mother (Ever Jean) encouraged me,” Arnold said. “She always taught me to be all that I can me, (to) find something I enjoyed, not necessarily something I was good at, but something you enjoyed and give it a 110 percent. She said you would eventually get good at it.” Arnold graduated from Chester County High School in 1981. For the last 15 years, he has been in the entertainment, business, starting off as a model in events. But, it was after someone asked him 15 years ago if he ever thought about putting on comedy shows that he learned he was good at planning and promoting events. “People loved it,” Arnold said.

Now the owner of Bo Entertainment, Arnold, who is married and is the father of four children, uses his gift of event planning and promoting to create superb events for his clients. He has expertise in planning and promoting school functions, youth events, church outings, sporting events and professional entertainers. Arnold is also a second-shift supervisor in Lexington, Tenn. for Fluiz Routing Solutions, which “is a leader in the transporting and routing of fluids, fuels and gases in vehicles manufactured by major original equipment automotive manufacturers,” according to the company’s website. There, Arnold is in charge of the entire second-shift, production, maintenance, warehouse and the entire facility. Arnold said he has achieved his dreams by understanding how life and people work. “I’ve reached my dreams by following the rules of the game,” Arnold said. “Being respectful, treating everyone the same and giving it your all.” Arnold said that the key to achieving your dream is to find what you like and to work towards accomplishing it. “If there’s something you enjoy, something you like to do, give it your best shot,” he said.

Camille Shavon Camille Shavon has dreamt of becoming an actress, writer and producer since she was five years old. Forty-two years later, she has made those dreams come true and continues to do more. Born to Wanda Moody and Darryl King, Camille Shavon grew up in Chicago, Illinois, attending Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, where First Lady Michelle Obama also attended. Camille Shavon excelled in performing arts and later transferred to Bolivar Central High School in Bolivar, Tenn., where she finished her senior year. She attended West Tennessee Business College Cosmetology and Pazazz Hair School of Cosmetology Training, becoming a licensed cosmetologist and instructor. Camille Shavon, who now lives in Jackson, Tenn., excels in her fields of expertise, having 27 years of cosmetology, 23 years as an instructor and 25 years as owner and operator of Hair Expressions Salon, located in Bolivar, and a second salon, Hair Expressions 2 Salon, which has been in operation for over four years in Jackson. Camille Shavon has freelanced for 10 years, with her work appearing in Spirit Magazine, Grace Magazine and The Chocolate Voice and as a columnist for the “Hair Talk with Camille Shavon” column featured in The West Tennessee Examiner. The column evolved into a talk show for WOJG/ WFKX and has aired for five years. She also found time for her other two dreams of being an actress and a producer. Camille Shavon has performed in several stage plays, appeared on the ABC sitcom “Cupid” in 1998 and was the first African American Director at Hardeman County Arts Council. She also produced the very first Hair/Fashion Show in Hardeman County and made several appearances in Sophisticate’s Black Hair Magazine. Camille Shavon has used her photography skills to capture moments in history and special events, including President Barack Obama’s commencement speech at Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tenn. and The 28th Annual Stellar Awards. She also serves as the chairman of media and publicity for the Jackson-Madison County branch of the NAACP. Camille Shavon has been honored for her many achievements, receiving the Jewel Award for African American Business of the Year in 2010, the Golden Apple Award and the 2012 Sterling Award (for being one of the 20 Most Influential Women of West Tennessee). Camille said that she encourages anyone who is trying to reach their dream to keep moving forward and to never quit. “Remain steadfast, committed and prayerful,” she said. “Most of all, never, ever, give up.”

Johnny Johnson Johnny Johnson has worked very hard to make his dream of being a movie director come true. “My dream growing up was to be a movie director, similar to John Singleton and Spike Lee,’ said Johnson, a father of four. A native of New York, Johnson’s journey to become a filmmaker began when he was born to Catherine and Johnny Johnson Sr. He graduated from Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School in Buffalo, N.Y. Johnson then attended college at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio and earned his associate’s degree in design and visual communications from ITT Technical Institution in Getzville, N.Y. Johnson, who was a radio personality for WCU 88.9 FM in Ohio for a year and 10 months, now lives in Jackson, Tenn. and is a radio producer and audio engineer for WNWS FM 101.5 News/Talk and works with WBBJ-TV ABC 7, both in Jackson, Tenn. Johnson has also worked as an UI developer, designing, testing and delivering websites, applications and components for Fountain Financial, LLC, as a senior producer for Time Warner Cable and a digital marketing consultant for A&U Advertising Inc. Now Johnson, along with Lewis T. Brantley III, are filming “Swim with the Tide”, an action thriller movie about corporate and urban deceit and converting an unfavorable situation to one’s advantage, he said. According to the synopsis of the film, “during a robbery, the bank robber shouted to everyone in the bank: ‘Don’t move. The money belongs to the State. Your life belongs to you.’ The next day, the TV news reported that $100 million was taken from the bank. The robbers counted and counted and counted, but they could only count $20 million. So, who are the real robbers here?” The film, which is being filmed in Jackson, Tenn., will be screened at Lane College and several film festivals, including the Miami International Film Festival, the Toronto Film Festival, the TCM Classic Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival. Johnson said his mother always pushed him to excel in whatever he did and to keep going to the next level. Johnson said there were several steps he took to accomplish his dream. “I reached my dreams by setting goals and meeting deadlines,” he said. “I stay consistent and I humble myself.” Johnson added, “to those who are trying to reach their dreams, I say stay focused. You’re gonna have obstacles. That’s a part of the business. The answer to those obstacles is finding solutions.”

Tyrone Tony Reed Jr. Born to Tyrone and Marjorie Reed in Memphis, Tenn., Tyrone Tony Reed Jr. was taught by his parents that with God, nothing was impossible for him to do. “My parents expected no less than the best from me growing up,” Reed said. “They worked hard to provide for me and my sister and expected us to work hard and learn at school. They always reminded us to behave, be respectful and do what’s right because what we did at school reflected back on them as parents.” So, after being inspired by his childhood hero Superman’s alter ego, Clark Kent, a mild-mannered reporter at The Daily Planet, Reed began writing as a teenager. From 1995 to 1997, he was a Teen Panelist for The Commercial Appeal newspaper, in Memphis, addressing issues important to teenagers. 

From 1997 to 2000, Reed was a reporter and photographer for The Teen Appeal, a city-wide high school newspaper, located on the campus of The University of Memphis and was one of the inaugural members of the journalism program. He received several awards and a scholarship for college through the program.

From July 2005 to November 2009, Reed worked as the public safety reporter for The Jackson Sun newspaper in Jackson, Tenn. While there, Reed received several awards, including two “Award of Excellence” from the newspaper. He also met his wife, Tajuana, an award-winning writer, while working at the newspaper.

Outside of the journalism field, Reed has written and published two novels in his S.O.L.A.D.™: Soldiers of Light Against Darkness™ book series and is currently working on his third and fourth novels. He has also collaborated with other authors in the novels With Great Power. 

Reed has also written short stories and have entered them into several contests. His short story “Crystal Clear” tied for second place and was published in a book entitled, Enlightenment: The Talent Among Us: Volume XI. “Feeding the Beast”, another short story of his, won honorable mention in 2015. “I love being a writer, telling people’s real-life stories and creating fictional worlds with characters that look like me,” Reed said. “It’s rewarding for me to see a finished article, short story or book. I look back at each one and thank God for the gift he has given me.” Reed added, “If you have a God-given dream, use your gifts and do your best to develop them. Before you know it, God will add his super with your natural and He will take you places you never dreamed of. Just work hard, pray and never give up.”

Cesar Quispe Originally from Peru in South America, Cesar was raised in Washington, D.C. by a single mother,”Tina”. As a kid he dreamed of playing soccer, which he had the opportunity to play in college for one year, but God had other plans for him. Quispe first arrived in Tennessee in 2008, after having lived in Puerto Rico for a couple of years. He worked for a Christian non-profit organization, in Nashville, before deciding to return to college to complete his dreams. In 2013, Cesar, enrolled at Lane College in Jackson, Tenn., where he is currently pursuing a degree in Business Administration. While in the process of completing his education, he was hired to work in the Marketing and Athletic departments at Lane College. Today he serves as the Assistant to the Sports Information Director. In late 2015, Cesar join the West Tennessee Examiner. His greatest focus at the newspaper are in the areas of Marketing and Design, but has also contributed as a journalist and photo journalist. His biggest inspiration in life is his 2 year old daughter, Sofia. He said, “being a father is my greatest title”

This publication was written by Tyrone Tony Reed Jr. and designed by Cesar Quispe.


Desiray S. '18

Biology Major

Softball Player




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West Tennessee Examiner  

Dream Achievers Edition highlights local people who are doing great things in the community.

West Tennessee Examiner  

Dream Achievers Edition highlights local people who are doing great things in the community.