Woman Wednesday: Ruby B. Johnson

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below.         


Q and A with Ruby B. Johnson, Sierra Leone, West Africa

“Three things: take care of your mental health, control your narrative, and work smart and do your research.” 

 

Q: What are you passionate about? 

A: I am a mining engineer and currently work at a gold mining operation. I am also the founder and editorial director of STEMher by Ruby B. Johnson Magazine. Premiered in September 2018 with its autumn issue, STEMher Magazine is a print magazine showcasing the education and experiences of girls and women in science, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics (STEM) academia, careers, and programs. STEMher celebrates women thriving in their careers and inspires others to fuel their curiosity and interests in STEM; the status of individuals featured range from middle school through retirement. In one year, STEMher has featured more than 50 STEM girls and women worldwide from countries like the United States of America, Australia, Ghana, Canada, South Africa, India, France, Nigeria, Channel Islands, The Bahamas, Sierra Leone, and England. All magazine issues are available for purchase on stemher.com and Amazon Marketplace.

 

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Summer 2019 Cover

 

Q: What were your younger years like?

A: I was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone [in West Africa]. I moved to the United States when I was 12 years old, which meant growing up and completing my middle school and high school education in Maryland. I graduated from Virginia Tech with a BSc in mining engineering and a minor in women’s studies leadership. While in college, I founded When You Believe Foundation, a program that empowers women and girls through social media engagement, workshops, and donations. In 2012, I competed in my first pageant, Miss Sierra Leone USA, with the platform of advocating for the recruitment and retention of girls and women in STEM fields, since I was a STEM college student at the time and women’s empowerment was something I was passionate about. I won the pageant and with that title, I was able to travel across the country as well as in Sierra Leone, encouraging girls and young women to pursue STEM. After the crowns and titles, STEM advocacy and women’s empowerment continues to be my lifelong platform. I wanted to take this platform to another level to be able to reach women and girls I may never cross paths with, so I created STEMher by Ruby B. Johnson Magazine last year. 

 

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Q: What is something valuable you’ve learned that you’d like others to know? 

A: Three things: take care of your mental health, control your narrative, and work smart and do your research. (1) From Monday through Thursdays, I work ten-hour days and a two-hour commute to and from work. Additionally, I am an entrepreneur who runs her own business creating content and putting together each issue for STEMher by Ruby B. Johnson Magazine. I also serve in a couple of ministries at my church. Life gets busy. In the last year, I’m being intentional to prioritize my mental health. Making time to rest and slow down when necessary. In order to be productive with work, I have to take care of myself by sleeping, eating healthy, exercising, spending time with God through prayer, and meditation as well as reading my Bible. I have to be intentional about making time for myself, family and friends, as well as work. It’s okay to say “no” or “not yet” sometimes. I cannot fill the cups of others when my cup is empty. It’s also okay to ask for help—whether it’s in prayer, family and friends, community, or therapy.

 

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(2) As I navigate through the professional world and life in general, I’m realizing how important it is for one to control their narrative. Of course we cannot fully control what people say about us or how they feel about us; however, I believe we can play a role in those things. The way we carry ourselves is very important. We have to learn wisdom on when to speak up or be silent. We must be our biggest defenders and tell people how we want them to treat or address us. (3) Running a business is no easy feat and it’s time-consuming. In college, I learned to not study hard but study smart. I believe that’s important to do when you are a business owner. Being that I don’t have a business or journalism background, I spend a lot of time learning—asking questions, reading articles, listening to podcasts, and everything else in between. I want this magazine to go beyond, so that means I have to put in the work. I may not see harvest immediately, but sowing seeds each day counts. All in all, I believe it’s important to know who you are, stand firm on your values, always remember your why, and never lose your humanity no matter what environment you are in. 

 

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Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: To me, feminism means being my authentic self, living out my God-given purpose, and being intentional about making a difference in the community. While working on my women’s studies leadership minor in college, I learned about intersectionality. I am a Christian woman, born and raised in Sierra Leone, a naturalized American citizen, a woman in STEM, usually one of few or only black people in some professional settings, and a family-oriented individual. I thrive because of these lived experiences but also have a heart and a curious mind to learn about those who are different from me. Feminism to me is never compromising my faith and also being compassionate to others. To me, feminism means to reach for excellence and nothing less.

 

I’d love to connect with you!

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Woman Wednesday: Felissa

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below.        


Q and A with Felissa, Atlanta, Georgia  

“People will judge you, try to change you, try to break you, and even try to stop you. But that is all in the process of getting to the top!” 

 

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: I wanted to have a career where I could give back to people in a real impactful way. I had always wanted to help others and make a difference. Although teaching in the classroom was something I loved, I never felt like I could create the life I desired. Six years ago, I was a tired, overweight mom of two with no energy. 

 

I was always looking and doing the “next best diet” and as everyone knows, diets are not sustainable for life.  I finally decided it was time to educate myself on nutrition and health so I could create a healthy lifestyle for myself and my family. After losing 40 pounds and stopping being such a skeptic, I started sharing my success story with others. I partnered with a health and wellness company and a nutritionist and created a career that would inspire and empower people to live their best life through a journey of nutrition, wellness, and creating a healthy mind and body. 

 

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I was only looking to drop a few pounds and get my energy back, and what I found was a community of people with a vision that empowers others to do more than they thought they were capable of doing. As I continued to share my story: of the nutrition and our life-changing opportunity, to my surprise, by the end of that year, I surpassed my teaching income and decided to jump in with both feet (well, sort of). 

 

Actually, when I let go of worrying about what other people thought of me, and was open to new opportunities and possibilities, and that was when my life changed. I cared too much about what other people thought of me, and it prevented me from doing the things I wanted to do or being who I truly was. This has given me a sense of achievement, purpose, and community and a profession where I can be my own BOSS. Every day, I have the opportunity to help people change their quality of life both physically and financially. That feels pretty amazing.   

 

Q: What were your younger years like?

I had a wonderful childhood and was raised in a very loving home in Savannah, GA.  My parents always supported me and wanted me to enjoy every minute of life.  I graduated from the University of Georgia, where I received a bachelor’s degree in Audiology and Speech Pathology and then continued to Georgia State University, where I received my master’s degree in the Education of Deaf and Hard of Hearing.  I then taught grades kindergarten through fifth grade over the next 12 years.  

 

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During the last few years I was teaching, I began to realize I wanted more than just living for weekends and holidays. I found a way to plan my work and passion to help others around my life verses planning my life around my work—working days and hours that were best for me, with no cap on the amount of income I could earn. 

 

 

Q: What is something valuable you’ve learned that you’d like others to know? 

A: I learned very quickly that big dreams don’t come easily. People will judge you, try to change you, try to break you, and even try to stop you. But that is all in the process of getting to the top! Learning to get comfortable with the uncomfortable was an important lesson for me and not easy. All my life, I cared what others thought of me. Life is better when you’re not so concerned about how other people will view you for your actions, choices, and decisions. 

 

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Sometimes you have to risk so much for a dream no one can see but you.  It became very apparent that I had to surround myself with people who supported me on my journey and would be there to lift me up when I fell (because I fell a lot). Whether it was the weight loss, the career change, or my new positive outlook on life, I had to stop feeling guilty about the decisions I made. I have had many challenges along the way. I could not make excuses anymore. It was time for results, and you can’t have both! If you take anything away from my story, I hope you will learn to be authentically, unapologetically you because it is your ultimate freedom and where joy is found.

 

 

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Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: Feminism advocates for social, political, and economic equality for men and women. 

 

 

Connect with me! I’d love to chat with you! 

Felissa Covin
Make the Shift
Healthy Mind and Body

 

Thoughts, questions, or comments?

Comment below! 🙂

Woman Wednesday: Maria Tan

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below.        


Q and A with Maria Tan, Entrepreneur Coach, Philippines

True abundance isn’t about what you have. It’s how comfortable you are being you, doing you, and staying you.”

 

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: I love making the impossible possible–turning “crazy ideas” into reality. 

Born into an entrepreneurial, immigrant Chinese family, I was wired into the “work hard, stay in your place, be practical” mentality.

 

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Pictured: We had the “work hard” mentality but HUMOR was a big part of our lives! Here I am in my early twenties with my parents and siblings.

 

Anything outside the norm wasn’t accepted and everything that had to do with dreaming differently wasn’t encouraged. Hobbies, passions, interests that didn’t result in direct payout/profit were kept as such. Little effort would be put into something “frivolous” like playing the piano or theater arts. As a result, I grew up with such a scarcity mindset and lots of self-limiting beliefs. 

 

What’s curious though, I inherited my ancestors’ entrepreneurial skills and was making money from the age of 6 by buying and selling stationery and confectionary items, dried foods, and other things I could sell. Later, I was selling my services as a teacher and consultant. For someone so “young”–I had my choice of clients and was paid above the market rate.

 

 

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Pictured: Me facilitating a communications workshop in Taipei, Taiwan. 

 

But I felt something was missing. I needed to BE MORE and think beyond what to sell next and how to make more money. I talked to my mom about the meaning of life and she pretty much dismissed my question as something frivolous and overreaching. I can’t blame her though–she comes from a generation where having a white picket fence was the dream). After that talk, I went even deeper into depression. I was living my life void of any life. I would go from one task to the next and have no memory of doing so. 

 

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I was honestly contemplating to end my life, but something in me said: “I can’t give up on myself–life has got to be better than this.” I went full-on into exploring my spiritual gifts and somehow I embraced being an empath. When I talked to people, I just knew which buttons to push to help them talk about what really mattered to them. Today, I am able to combine that spiritual gift with my talent in teaching, consulting, and seeing the big picture. 

 

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Check out my homepage: https://www.maria-tan.com/

 

I now coach “Misfits”–people who feel like they can’t conform to the norm and what’s expected of them, to turn their “deepest desires” and “crazy impossible dream” into reality. I help elevate their lives by guiding them in creating an eco-system around who they are and what they offer. 

 

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Q: What is something valuable you’ve learned that you’d like others to know? 

A: True abundance isn’t about what you have. It’s how comfortable you are being you, doing you, and staying you.

I’ve made money from an extremely young age. In fact, making money comes easy to me because I’m good with people and I can sell lots of things. When I was selling my products and services to anyone who wanted to buy, I was working day and night. The money came in fast. But my scarcity mindset back then simply drove me to doing more and feeling disconnected with the part of me that knew I was meant for more.

 

I couldn’t enjoy the money I made and was so concerned about how other people saw me and my means. I made monetary decisions out of the fear that people would look down on me and think I couldn’t afford something. What should be a blessing became a burden. Only after I embraced my spiritual self and embodied a more abundant state of being did I fully appreciate life and find joy in my existence.

 

This may sound like a cliche, but the moment you embrace the totality of who you are, the money will come anyway. So be you, stay you, do you. There is no one like you and the moment you appreciate that about you, the rest of the world will! 

 

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Pictured: This was a big milestone in my life. Since 2013, I sat on different boards and committees of non-profit organizations (Rotary Club and the International Women’s Club). But nothing brought me more honor than being part of an education foundation in 2018. I was a recipient of scholarship since I was 11 until about my college years. To be part of this education foundation was me paying it forward. 

 

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Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: I was actually brought up in a matriarchal society. Even within my extended families, women are held in high regard. In fact, women can be so strong and as capable as the men in my family, but they wouldn’t be dressed down for “failure” as a male would.

 

When I left my home country (the Philippines) to pursue my tertiary education is when I saw the favorable treatment to men. I was harassed by a male professor and when I asked an administrator where I could file a complaint, I was strongly suggested not to. The reason was simply “You’re female and you’re from the Philippines. In this country, people listen to males, especially those that came from a developed country.” 

 

I never felt more violated than the moment I heard that. And I vowed since then never to let my nationality or my gender get in the way of empowerment. Feminism, for me, isn’t about equal rights. It’s about mutual respect and compassion. That country had “equal rights” but the societal beliefs then were programmed against women.

The way I was brought up, women are heard. When a woman isn’t happy, the entire family walks on eggshells. Women are loved for being caring and nurturing, for thinking of everyone’s needs, and for being non-linear in their thinking. Women are respected because they make life easier. 

That, for me, is feminism.

 

Connect with me! I’d love to chat with you! 

Maria Tan is an Entrepreneur Coach for Misfits (people who don’t like to conform to the norm), Multipassionates (people who are extremely multifaceted and multitalented), and Millennials (people born between 1981-1996). She helps her clients create an eco-system around who they are and what they offer. She’s taught more than 1000 people from all over the world! Connect with her on IG (@maria_k_tan) and check out her website (www.maria-tan.com). 

 

Thoughts, questions, or comments?

Comment below! 🙂

Woman Wednesday: Lasheika

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below.        


Q and A with Lasheika, Miami, Florida

“Everything happens for a reason, and don’t regret a thing because it’s all a part of your journey.”

 

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: Hi, my name is Lasheika. I am a mom of five boys and an author of experiences. I recently began my blogging journey, but my love of writing was recognized in middle school. I love to write and now that I’ve had experiences in love, life, family, and marriage. I choose to share those experiences with other moms in the hopes of them gaining more insight, support, and encouragement.

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Q: What were your younger years like?

A: I was raised by my mom and step father. Just having a nonexistent relationship with my biological dad was enough for me to go looking for love in all of the wrong places. I became a mom at the age of 17, which was one of the most scariest and happiest times of my life. Two weeks after giving birth, I returned back to school. I graduated three months later. The birth of my son was a true game-changer for me. Seeing this little human made me push past my own emotions and shoot beyond the stars. Now, five kids later, I was more determined than ever to find my purpose. I felt that by having five kids and being able to maintain my sanity was something that I could share with the world. Me feeling neglected and then me finding love in my marriage and through the births of my children have me wanting to share my experiences with those who faced similar challenges.

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Q: What is something valuable you’ve learned that you’d like others to know? 

A: I would want other women to stay encouraged, continue pushing forward in faith. Believe and know that God will never leave nor forsake you. Most importantly, nothing is a mistake. Everything happens for a reason, and don’t regret a thing because it’s all a part of your journey.

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Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: Feminism is our unique flawlessness. It’s the strength that we possess that no other has. It’s our ability to bear weight that only we can carry. It’s our boldness, our beauty, our courage and strength to overcome.

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Connect with me! I’d love to chat with you! 

Comment below!

 

Woman Wednesday: Jamie

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below.       


 

Q and A with Jamie, Vancouver, Washington

 

“Limits are a mindset, not a reality.  Allow yourself to try things and treat life like a game.”

 

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: I am incredibly passionate about being the architect of my life. I am consumed and wildly in love with this idea that as I build a business, I’m creating something in our world that was never there before and can help people along the way.

 

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I run a digital agency called Trend Rocket Digital, and I’m a business coach focused on female empowerment. I believe it’s my duty to show women that you CAN have it all and that happiness gets to look like whatever you believe it to be.

I found this passion when I was 18, and truthfully, it came to me suddenly. I was sitting on the floor of my 650-square-foot apartment, 6 hours away from home, after being let go from a nursing job due to my brain condition and I had no clue how I was going to move forward. I knew that I couldn’t live a normal life if my health continued to get in the way and then I realized, I was going to have to build my life. So, I dropped out of college that day and pursued entrepreneurship.

 

Q: What were your younger years like?

A: My younger years really made me who I am. I have an incredible family. I was raised out in the country with my mom who was my best friend, and my step-dad who was in my eyes, my dad. He was an entrepreneur himself, but also incredibly down to earth. I had 3 brothers and a sister, too. But, my childhood was also incredibly full of struggle. At 14, I began having health issues where I’d lose my vision and get incredibly dizzy. For a couple of years, it was pushed off by doctors as puberty and hormone imbalance.

 

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However, by my senior year, I was now in a wheelchair with an undiagnosed condition that was getting progressively worse. I was passing out up to 50 times a day. I’d broken ribs, sprained everything imaginable, and yet, every test came back normal. I had grown masses on my spine that were affecting my nerves and every day was potentially my last. Not only did doctors not know what was wrong, but they also couldn’t tell me that one more concussion wasn’t going to kill me.

It took us 5 years to finally find out I had a rare brain disorder called Dysautonomia.

 

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My childhood and high school years were obviously life-changing, but I believe that this was a massive piece of who I am now. Without this illness, I wouldn’t have learned to be independent, strong, and a problem solver. I wouldn’t have had the interest in self-love, and development. I would never have imagined that I should run a company on my computer. But all of this came because this rare disorder shaped me into a capable woman.

By the time I was 20, I had also unfortunately lost my step-dad to a battle with stage 4 cancer, and my brother to another illness. My family has been through so much, but because of it, I’d say we value our lives, health, and time more than anyone else I know.

 

Q: What is something valuable you’ve learned that you’d like others to know? 

A. I think if my story can teach anything, it’s that if I can find joy and happiness in life after dealing with all that I’ve dealt with, and still build a business—you can truly do whatever you desire.

Limits are a mindset, not a reality.  Allow yourself to try things and treat life like a game. No one gets out alive anyway, and the worst that will happen is that you’ll end up in the same spot you’re in now.

 

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Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: I think, for the most part, feminism is a great concept. However, I think that at the core, many women also seem to lean into their own excuses and place sexism as the reason they’re not where they desire to be.

 

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There’s an episode of The Profit where a woman who runs a successful online flower shop continually brought up sexism as the reason she wasn’t getting investors, when truthfully, it was because she was incredibly hard to deal with as a person and basically cried “sexist” to anyone who told her that something was wrong in her business.

You don’t get to be the empowered woman you are capable of being and play victim at the same time. Believe it or not, the market will buy a great product–regardless of who’s selling it–man or woman. The market isn’t sexist, and you can’t allow feminism to be the reason you’re losing.

Go grab what’s yours, empower yourself, empower your fellow sisters in business (or just other women period), and earn the life you desire!

 

On the images I’ve attached:

One was on Christmas day with my dad who was battling stage 4 cancer, and me in my wheelchair. We were still having so much fun that day and making the most of it.

There’s also an image of my man and me. He’s been there through so much and has been the greatest support system in my life and business.

There’s an image of myself and a large group of friends. That was at my company launch party!

There’s an image of my mom, my sister, and I.

And then, just one of me! The reason I chose that one of me is because I’m sitting on my desk by my computer, and it represents so much to me. I built my desk by hand. I used all the tools, sanded it, painted it, and then it became the space where I built my business. So much of me has gone into this desk, and this computer–so, I think it’s a perfect image for this!

Connect with me! I’d love to chat with you! 

Comment below!