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Young Trailblazer Nominee

Imani Lige

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My Black Colorado Interview

 

The first one was, what school do you attend? And what year are you 

I’m currently a sophomore at the University of Denver. I’m a business major, entering the marketing or management degree with an entrepreneurship concentration and a minor in leadership.

What’s your goal or desire to do with that degree? 

I want to use my degree to go back into my community and help others build businesses with the knowledge I have to attain rather than having people go to college and try to pay for it. I want to give it out and help people through my leadership degree. I also hope to go into nonprofit communities and help them build a solid foundation to get more money and make it more profitable for the communities they’re trying to provide for. And then overall, with the entrepreneurship degree, I want to start my business. So that marketing management degree will help hone in this digital age skills to understand how to do that, especially with everything changing so quickly. 

What do you think others would say they like about you the most and why? 

with many of my teachers and professors, I’m very driven once they know a little more about my background and history. They know that I’m very driven to do what I want to do and I’m brilliant. I’ve had mentors. One of them is in your book, raw. Dr. Rhonda Richmond. We’ve met and we’ve talked, and she encouraged me and said I could go out and get my Ph.D. if I wanted to. So I think that’s kind of where I think a lot of people see me as it’s like I’m just a driven person out there to get knowledge and to do better for other people. 

What about your story makes them think that of you?

I grew up in Colorado Springs my whole life, but through that, I had many challenges with my family, a lot of abuse and neglect. There came a moment when I realized that I needed to take care of myself and my sibling. The abuse and neglect that I went through, I still was doing good in school and that was my end goal — to become a perfect student, and I was excelling. I even got put into CSS (The Colorado Springs School or CSCS: Colorado Springs Christian School), a private school in Colorado Springs, because they saw my potential as a student. I went for a year to experience it and it was fantastic! So even though all the challenges that I face, not only as a black woman but in my personal life with family, it has shown me what I’m capable of. 

When you’re not in class, what are things you like to enjoy being involved with? 

Outside of class, I have a job. I work at Staples, which is a gratifying job. They treat me well and I love the customer service experience. I guess that’s why I’m in business. I also sometimes work with my leadership program to see other programs outside of mine to see what they’re doing. There’s this place called the Woman’s Bakery that helps raise donations to fund women’s bakeries in central Africa so women can be more self-sustaining. Reading and playing my video games are enjoyable to me, too, because I want to try to get the most out of what I can in my life at the end of the day.

What is the best advice someone has given you recently? 

Rhonda Richmond said this to me back in March when all of this went down. Take care of yourself and I’ve taken that to heart. I guess it’s the idea that we, as black women, are always trying to excel, push ourselves, and trying to do as much as we can; but, sometimes we can get lost in the idea that we don’t need to take care of ourselves. When she told me that, I realized that if I’m pushing myself too hard, I will eventually burn out of myself and take care of myself. So that’s important for me to remember because if I can take care of myself, I can eventually take care of my community. 

What’s one thing you want to get better at? 

I want to get better at my public speaking and I guess a little bit of my arrogance. I’ve always been told that I’m brilliant, which made me kind of high-headed about what I knew. But ever since I got to college, I’ve learned that that’s not true and to work towards the idea that I don’t know everything. When it comes to public speaking, I have a speech impediment. It’s not always noticeable, but sometimes I slur my words, so it’s a huge issue that I want to get better at. 

What do you think is one piece of advice that adults need to hear to better connect with the younger generation? 

They’re not you. I say that is because I have my parents and grandparents and have their expectations, but the world we live in isn’t the world they grew up in and the world that their parents grew up in. I think to realize that if you give the younger generation freedom and recognize that they’re not going to be you and that their choices are their choices will help shape where they can go. I think it’s a huge problem, at least in a black community, parents try to make their kids the best they can without realizing that that isn’t for everybody. All kids can’t be football players, doctors, lawyers, etc. There’s going to be artists, veterinarians, civil engineers out there. So if you can’t just let them be and not try to control them the way you want to be raised, then hopefully, you realize that you’re just there to help them become the best human they can be and not like a mini-you. 

What accomplishments or awards are you most proud of? 

Getting into the University of Denver. The acceptance rate is low, of course not as hard as Harvard, but I mean, it was pretty hard to get in personally. So I’m glad that I could do that, especially from a background like from. I think a poetry award I won and I got published in this e-publishing for youth artists was an accomplishment in and of itself. It inspired me to keep writing poetry and let me know that I have a voice and that it’s possible for me to continue to do those things. Two people in my life have helped shape who I am and getting into places that aren’t made for me shows my excellence and I think that’s what helps me to strive and to prove to myself and the world that black women are capable and we’re going to be here no matter what you say.

What impact have you made in the community that you’re most proud of? 

My leadership program is also a diversity program. The program has us working to find community partners. I’m looking forward to making a change in the student’s curriculum. I think all the work I’ve done with peak education honed in the idea that if you help children understand that education is essential then even if they don’t go to college it helps hold the notion that they are someone. They are a person deserving of love and a place in this society and I think that’s one of the most important things you can give the child is that they have self-worth. 

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