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“Dem Boys” Are Rewriting the Standardized Testing Narrative

3 mins

Facts:

  • Among top scorers on the SAT—those scoring between a 750 and 800—60 percent are Asian and 33 percent are white, compared to 5 percent Latino and 2 percent black (Brookings)
  • For college-bound SAT users, the SAT national average score was 1083 ; for African-Americans and Hispanics scores were 950 and 980 respectively.  (Brookings)
  • With an income of <20,000, the average test score for the SAT is 970. With an household income of >200,000, that number was 1230! (Brookings)
  • It is estimated that in the entire country last year at most 2,200 black and 4,900 Latino test-takers scored above a 700 on the math section. In comparison, roughly 48,000 whites and 52,800 Asians scored that high. (PrepScholar)
  • There were only 8 states with SAT averages LOWER than Georgia. While some were equal, Georgia still falls within the bottom quartile of US test takers.

The mission:

We can’t change the education system. Unfortunately, there are barriers around education that make helping some of our students a “moving target” It is also increasingly difficult to mentor, tutor, and follow a student through their three years of high school prior to their standardized testing. It IS possible, however, to dramatically increase the chances of a successful standardized test scores that will influence admissions decisions, scholarship dollars, and special program acceptances.

Right Before Magazine partnered up with a group of 25 Black males, “Dem Boys”, looking to do our part to level the socioeconomic education playing field! Imagine if it were possible to take a high achieving student, right at the precipice of college admissions and give them the confidence to apply to their dream school knowing that their SAT score is in the upper 75th percentile. A lot of times this is possible in schools that offer significant test preparation or with families that have the finances to provide testing assistance.

We will be giving away FREE merit-based SAT prep courses as well as providing weekend mentoring that can help on subjects such as essay writing, the application process, and research. This opportunity will be application based but designed to take students at the point Right Before applying to their dream school and push them over the edge. We will provide course books, instructors, individual mentors in Athens, application waivers, and the moral support teenagers need to aspire for more!

The idea:

It all started how a lot of things start, as a New Year’s Resolution. I bounced the idea around numerous group messages I was involved in, hoping to just get ONE to bite. “What if, over the course of this year, we all decide to give a little bit of money every two weeks in order to give away a lot of money in a few months?”  As a secondary thought, “What if our community did the same, with GroupMes around the world gathering funds together for one larger cause?” … It was a big reach; bigger than most would be comfortable with, but aren’t those the kind of reaches we need to take our people to the next level? The idea itself isn’t new. Micro-financing or “crowdfunding” is one of the fastest growing trends for startup ideas and ventures.

Like most resolutions, the hardest part was getting things moving and pushing deeper into month two. The concept of giving money to someone every two weeks is/was enough to scare a lot of people off. Some of the best people, even with good intentions, never got around to replying. When it comes to starting something new, there are some who get on board at the beginning and others that tend to become a part after it launches. Right Before is extending the opportunity for readers everywhere to get involved now.

To donate please visit:

https://www.youcaring.com/tbd-727765

Call to Action:

We want to raise enough money to positively affect change in the lives of many students who have already worked hard enough, but just need the additional resources to reach the plateau that often comes with standardized testing. Help us be the change in these students lives, and the effects will come back to benefit our communities in the long run. Our goal to bring this program to fruition is $3,000. That will give us a classroom worth of materials and the ability to help each student apply to their dream school, free of charge. We have a YouCaring that has already raised $750 of our goal, but just need your help to push us over the finish line.

Former President Barack Obama once said “If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” There are a lot of individuals waiting for something good to happen to them; who deserve something good to happen for them. Help Right Before and the 25 Black men behind this goal to make the difference in these students’ academic careers. 

To donate please visit:

https://www.youcaring.com/tbd-727765

Lashaya White wins inaugural Phenomenal Woman Scholarship

2 mins

“My summer in Barcelona was one of my most rewarding experiences. I was exposed to an entirely different culture that changed my outlook on the way I live life. There’s so much more to life then what we are all accustomed to so I truly hope that this experience will inspire YOU to become even more fearless and develop an international perspective on the world.” -Nia Hampton

 

 

 

Lashaya White

Lashaya is a Junior at the University of Georgia majoring in Finance. She is a recipient of the Cargill Scholarship, National Association of Black Accountants Scholarship, as well as many more awards. She is involved in campus with diverse organizations ranging from B.E.S.T to the Tate Leadership Scholars Program. In her free time, Lashaya volunteers with MathCounts, Designated Dawgs, and drives disability vans for UGA Transit. Her interests include Volleyball, Mentorship, Diversity, and Calligraphy.

What stood out about Lashaya are her various career ambitions and passion for helping others. She has aspirations to become a financial advisor and eventually start her own non-profit for educating underprivileged minority youth on financial literacy and the importance of money management. She will be traveling to South America for Terry Business School’s study abroad program and immersing herself in a culture in order to better provide for those individuals in the future. There are so many impressive people at the University and I have been blessed to meet some unbelievable candidates. Lashaya is an awesome choice to be our first scholarship winner and I cannot wait for it to become bigger and better year two.

From myself and Nia Hampton, we would like to congratulate you for all of your achievements thus far and for all you will accomplish in the future. -Kenneth Duncan
“I know that from my experience I’m no longer afraid of stepping outside my comfort zone and fully emerging myself in situations that are foreign to me, and I am so thankful for this because there are so many jewels to be discovered in this world! Right Before has given one lucky lady the opportunity to not only study abroad but to hopefully learn a lot about herself as well. I can only hope that your experience is as filled with joy, excitement and is as life changing as my summer in Spain.” -Nia Hampton

Beauty and the beat

4 mins

By: Andrew Porter

Few students are actively living their life with as much purpose as 4th year University of Georgia student, Bianca Godwins. In a simple introduction, Godwins would tell you she’s a microbiology major from Kennesaw, Georgia.

She’d probably go on to talk about how she is the Vice President of African Student Union or how she’s both an LSAMP scholar and CURO scholar. If you were to talk with her a  little more , she might even let you know that she does all of this while working at the daycare on the Health Sciences campus and at Parking Services.

The average person with Godwins’ hand might fold out of a need for sanity and sleep. Godwins confessed to me that she gave up sleep around 2014.

Although she boasts a very impressive list of accomplishments, boastful is not an adjective you’d ever associate with her. She is kind, smart, and most importantly humble, especially about the one aspect of her life I left out—the fact that she does all this while running her own makeup artistry business.

Godwins traces her love for makeup back to when she was in high school and would wake up every morning at 5 am to spend an hour and a half to two hours doing her eye shadow. During high school, Godwins developed and led a women’s empowerment club called Bold & Beautiful where she would teach 22 young women how to do their makeup and carry themselves as women.

At age 16 Godwins had already found her passion by doing two things she loves: makeup and empowering women. “I love that I’m able to translate my vision and my passion through making another woman feel beautiful,” she said.

Makeup wasn’t her only talent though. Godwins maintained strong academics throughout high school because she never would allow herself to lose sight of her dream of becoming a pediatrician and opening a primary care office in Nigeria and other third world countries.

Godwins doesn’t believe in letting words like either and or limit her capabilities.

““My passion for the arts and for makeup artistry has the same foundation as my passion for medicine . Even though they are two completely different career choices, you still have the foundation of being able to service someone else and that’s what I love—that’s what I feel is part of my purpose.” 

You’d never know it talking to her, but Godwins considers herself to be an introvert. It was that spirit that initially tried to keep her from letting the world see her talent.

“Fear is so debilitating if you don’t have the courage to really step out of the box,” she said. Godwins took the leap of faith and never looked back, crediting her close friends and loved ones with helping her promote her talents through word of mouth and social media alike.

Now it isn’t fear that stands in her way, but lack of hours in the day. A typical week for Godwins features her attending class in the morning and going to work every day in the evening, alternating between the daycare and Parking Services.

To keep herself sharp, she wakes up early to try to catch up on what she didn’t get to study the night before. Thursday through Saturday is business as usual.

Godwins heads to Atlanta every Friday and travels throughout the city and metropolitan area, wherever her clients need her to be. At the end of the weekend, she comes back to Athens on Sunday and starts the cycle all over again.

One weekend when business was booming, she even made four trips back and forth between Athens and Atlanta in three days. I’m sure here is where Godwins would like me to note that gas is indeed included in her fee.

With a hectic schedule like that, Godwins has had to make some sacrifices. She misses hanging out in between classes or attending weekend parties; however, she knows that there are certain choices she must make to achieve her dreams and aspirations.

Godwins is currently applying to grad schools and hopes to start her masters in biomedical sciences in the fall and medical school the following year. Godwins is a woman on a mission and doesn’t plan on letting anything or anyone stop her from achieving greatness.

“I’m showing women and girls that there is no such thing as limit. You do not have to be limited to being a lawyer, a doctor, or a beautician. We place the limit on ourselves when there is no such thing as that.”

Godwins’ ultimate dream is to become a pediatrician and work 9-4 on Monday through Thursday so that on weekends she can open her own beauty bar and salon. She specifically wants to use her background in science to help give makeup services to girls with cancer.

Godwins has a plan and is already living a purpose driven life. She takes on the tough task of performing two trades on completely opposite ends of the spectrum and has found a middle ground that not only makes her happy, but allows her to bring happiness and beauty to the lives of others.

“There are different levels of beauty, but most important is self-love.Once you love yourself on both the inside and the outside too, that’s when beauty really shines through.”

Godwins is always accepting of new clients. You can see her work on her site and social media pages: thebbeatmua.com|IG: _b.loved|Twitter: @x_borntosucceed|

 

3 Ways Right Before (and YOU) can Transform from Good to Great in 2017

2 mins

1)    Develop a support system

I do not know if it is scientifically proven, but I know from first-hand experience that it is nearly impossible to push yourself to your fullest potential. Have you ever tried holding your breath until you passed out, or stretching a muscle further than you really want to stretch? I would be willing to bet that in both circumstances, you are not able to perform the task because your body places limits on itself. We unconsciously are our own biggest roadblocks. I read an article recently about having a “business bestie”. You may need a “studies bestie” or a “workout bestie” in your personal life.

Find a person that best complements your strengths, but also who improves your weaknesses. When you assemble the people around you this year, consider your goals and determine if the people around you push you closer to your goals or pull you further away? There may be people in your circle that make you feel comfortable but that do not allow you to stretch yourself further than you want to. Bring somebody along for your journey in 2017 and you may find your limits easier to break.

2)    Craft Your Vision and Develop Your Best Case Scenario

This one has been documented on every website or book imaginable, but I look at it from a different take. The act of dreaming big and writing down your vision with all the amazing things that could happen after you do this is monumental. My best friend Drew took me through this exact exercise with Right Before Magazine. Think about where you could see yourself in a few years, but there is a catch… Think as “unrealistically as possible”. Think about a place that it would take a “miracle” to get to. Whether it be the top graduate school, a multi-million dollar startup, or a 6 figure corporate salary, think of your “reach” dream and that is the one to shoot for.

When you reach for the stars you may not quite get one, but you won’t come up with a handful of mud either. -Leo Burnett

When you set lofty goals and work as hard as you can to reach them, you set yourself up for infinitely more possibilities out of your work. As you identify your passions and set goals, you are going to notice that that enormous amount of work is actually not as much “work” as it is fulfilling.

 3)     Automate Your Daily Tasks

Honestly, this one doesn’t fit in with the other two. This may just be the most important thing to start in 2017. Automation is the number one time and money saver there is. Nowadays you can automate bank payments, automate articles posted, automate alarms/reminders, and automate your scheduling (enter things in as they happen). Once you get something down into your system, you can forget about it just a little bit and move on to the next important thing. I recently started automating my student loan payments, retirement savings, social media posting, and even reminders. The stress relief and added emphasis to my bigger goals are well worth the few hours it may take to set everything up.

Give yourself credit for the accomplishments, the wins and the losses. I spent so much of 2016 thinking of what I could do better that it consumed me. This year’s motto is “good to great”. Like the individuals from the book by Phil Collins, only a few make that leap. If you take heed of these changes, the YOU could be one of the few.

Kenneth

 

 

The Broke Man’s Blueprint

3 mins

By: Kenneth Duncan 

I used to fear failure. I used to fear the uncertainty that comes with pursuing dreams. I think we all have. I used to think that the only way to find success was to follow the blueprint laid by others that had been there before. The funny thing about the “blueprints” are that they are written by somebody who has failed over and over and over again. The blueprint to finding success is nothing more than an accumulation of lessons learned from being broke.


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In Daymond John’s “Power of Broke”, the key to his future success was more about what little resources he had than what he did not have. The blueprint to success is finding the power in being “broke” and the distinct advantages of limited resources. When you hit the bottom there really is only one direction to head and that is up! The idea of finding power in your shortcomings is summarized amazingly in the book and I feel it is honestly a must read for anybody that uses their fears, obstacles, or shortcomings as a crutch for mediocrity or stagnancy.

I want to leave you with a few tips from my own personal blueprint. Hopefully these will help you to take advantage of the place you are at in life. Take an honest inventory of all your shortcomings and think of ways to make them strengths in reaching your goals.

“Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant.” – horace, roman poet

Get your most creative with limited resources: You have nothing to lose by dreaming wild and crazy! The most successful people are adaptable and DYNAMIC. People respect and admire creativity from those that challenge the status quo. Every idea, enterprise, or organization you share your creativity with has the ability to change the world around you. Solve an issue that you face and in turn, you could help solve the issues of your peers.

In Daymond’s book he talks about the emergence of EDM music from Steve Aoki and how he built his legacy from just a few dollars and some friends. Daymond mentions a young lady that made a business and brand out of being social media personality. How many of us use socila media daily and could be so close to building our empire there? The goal is to use your limited resources to find any and everything that can make a difference and make some money. Look at Bianca, Ify, or Jade from our articles and see people who have built so much with very little.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius

Find your Purpose Without Money Involved: What would you do if money was not an issue? Your passion and purpose drives you through the lowest moments and the self-doubt. Very few things are guaranteed in life, but having something to hold fast to is core to who you always will be. Find your purpose and passion regardless of the money and chase that without worrying about money. So many college students can’t wait to finally leave and make some money (also face bills, insurance, and traffic) but fail to realize the ability to impact people where they are today.

“I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has had to overcome while trying to succeed.”

-Booker T. Washington

Redefine Your Definition of Success: No matter the level of success and wealth I achieve, I hope I never let go of the “power of broke”. This current feeling of destructiveness and invincibility makes all dreams seem possible. The “struggle” motivates me more than anything because every inch of movement is progress and success. Once you hit rock bottom you can focus in and keep your eyes “forward” without mention of failure.

Usually if something is easy, it just isn’t worth it. For the past few months, I have been writing profiles and articles on individuals that are experiencing the college “struggle”. None of the individuals want to take shortcuts. Each of them are trendsetters that are in the process of creating a blueprint. I hope that Right Before becomes THE blueprint. I find that the struggle brings me closest to the place that gives me direction. If you are looking to enhance your time at the place where you are in life, change your definition of what success looks like. Give some of these tips a try and let me know how your mindset shifts!

Right Before Success: The Name is Jade Jones

6 mins

 

Unless they’re making plays for you, running by your side, or paying you, it’s “all talk.”

I met Jade Jones about two years ago, couldn’t forget the day. We had spoken through text through a mutual friend, but there were just so many more layers than words could reveal. While she is beautiful on first glance, her compassion, intellect, passion, and creativity make her an unstoppable force. She is truly Right Before her Success, no doubt. I do not think you could find a woman in Atlanta working as hard to stand up above the crowd.

This interview is for all musicians, artists, and people who just grind. Jade will teach you life’s hardest lessons with the sweetest words. I joke that she is “ultra quotable” but also so easy to relate to. While others may take a break after some of her accomplishments, she just keeps on pressing. Check out what she had to say about her rise below.

Q: Jade, thank you for meeting with me. I think your interview can and will be so inspirational to a host of musicians and artists that are looking for a real life peek into a musicians journey. Can you give me a brief overview of what it is you do on a day-to-day basis with in your work?
A: My day-to-day: I wake up and answer all of my makeup clients’ emails and sort through different beats from producers. Every day for me is different because I run my own makeup business. It gives me the opportunity to create my own schedule. I may have rehearsal with my band, practice singing at home on my personal equipment, record my own music at home, or I might be running around doing makeup for models and TV personalities. On the weekends I do makeup for big wedding parties. Indian weddings are my favorite.

My days might each be different, but no matter what I’m doing, I’m always exercising my creativity.

Q: What’s your “superpower”? I always ask a question like this because I think it is important for people to think deeper within themselves and to understand their true gifts and talents.
A: I believe my superpower is versatility. I’m extremely competitive (with myself) and I feel like anything I’m interested in trying comes easy to me. I strive to be good/great at as many things as I can. I’ve been blessed to have success in all of the endeavors I’ve dabbled in. It’s like, when I speak it into the universe, somehow the opportunities always knock at my door. At that point it’s up to me to kill it.

Q: What would you say most motivates you to do what you do?
A: I have always had a passion for singing and lighting up the room. Proving to my family that I can have success in my dreams is my utmost greatest motivation. I love creating songs – from writing, to recording myself, and just building my catalog alone. I always try my hardest to create songs actually want to hear. I don’t care about just recording songs… I really want them to be dope. I strive make songs that I hope chicks (and dudes) would stumble upon and be like, “Who is this?!!!”

People are going to sell you so many dreams and tell you so many things and if you take them too literal it will slow you down too much


Q: What are you most excited or passionate about with this career path?
A: I’m excited about the unknown. I’m excited every day about the fact that I could end up being something even greater than I could imagine or hope for. I’m extremely passionate about spreading positivity, the stuff I’ve learned through my church, and being a great role model. When it comes to the way I present myself and what I bring to the table, I’m a natural-born leader. I always have been. 

Q:What are the goals you most want to accomplish in your work? Not so much the goals that are in your job description, but the goals you hold personally?
A: I want my music to be presented and published on the biggest platforms that exist. I want to inspire Latina and Black girls like myself to move closer to their dreams every day. “If Jade can do it, I can too!” I want them to tap in. I want to be recognized and remembered for such. I also want to be recognized by the people from my hometown, Houston, as well as the city I’ve been raised in, Atlanta.

I want to know what it feels like to live in a world I completely created.

Q:Did you have any key mentors or people who deeply influenced who you are, what you believe in and what you’re committed to in your work and life? Role models?  Tell me about them.
A: My family has been extremely influential. My dad taught me how to hustle and have integrity and my mom always taught me to be proud of who I am and to not be afraid of what others will say. My sister always keeps it real with me when it comes to my work ethic and my music. She’s the one who is going to tell me what no one else will. As a kid, Selena heavily influenced me because she started in Texas and is Mexican, like me. She had such contagious energy and she was sexy without trying. Everyone was so attracted to her energy – not to mention her star quality. I look up to artists like Rihanna and Beyonce so much because this industry can be dark sometimes and for those ladies to continue evolving and bettering their artistry, people have to understand that it takes a hell of a strong woman to reach that pinnacle.

Q: What are the lessons for someone like you that has similar interests?
A: People are going to sell you so many dreams and tell you so many things and if you take them too literally it will slow you down so much. If you have an undeniable passion for something and you practice at it, you will become better and better. Don’t talk about what you’re going to do – just do it and be undeniable when you get your shot. Take people’s advice lightly because you know yourself best. Only take advice from someone who has lived it or with whom you’d trade places.

Q: If you could do this project over again, would you do anything differently?  Why, and what would you do?
A: I think as artists, we’re so critical of ourselves and if I really could do it over, I would’ve done a couple of different things. However, at the same time, if I kept stressing about what more to do or change I would’ve never put [my art] out. I’m such a perfectionist and there’s so much I never dropped in the past because I kept holding on.

Q: If we’re sitting here a year from now celebrating what a great year it’s been for you in this role, what did we achieve together                                               A: We’d be celebrating my recognition as an artist, the support in sales of my music, and some speaking roles in television and film. W

 

Q: What is the biggest obstacle you have overcome when starting your career?
A:When you don’t know much about what you’re getting into, you will take everyone’s words very literally. People will tell you anything. Unless they’re making plays for you, running by your side, or paying you, it’s “all talk.”

Q: Describe the lessons you learned from your challenges?
A:When you’re seasoned, you will learn how vital it is to become a player with value. You’ll go from chasing other people to have everyone chasing you.

Q:When have you been most satisfied in your life?
A:One morning my music was playing on the radio at a huge pop station in Atlanta, Q100, and my mom told me she was pulling into work when she heard it and she was crying. I want to do so much more to make her cry… in a good way!

Q: What’s next for you in your work?  What are you looking forward to?
A:I’m constantly creating new music and new content and I hope to truly take it to a whole different level in the near future. I want to know what it feels like to live in a world I completely created. I want that next level of everything. I’m looking forward to saying I did “it” and not regretting having believed in myself more. Believing you can is half the battle. When you believe, you’re already halfway there. Truly. Showing up is half the job.

Only take advice from someone who has lived it or with whom you’d trade places.

Jade Jones has lived it…and this is just the beginning. I can’t wait to keep up with her journey Right Before she finds success. If you have ever considered a career or a pursuit of the arts, think about taking advice from someone who has lived it…You won’t regret it.

Check her out on Soundcloud at https://soundcloud.com/thenameisjade-1 and on IG @thenameisjade

7 Ways to Give Back Without Spending a Dollar

3 mins

With the holidays over, many of us are waiting for our pockets to recover from the various gifts and travel that we gave for friends and family. If you’re like me, you’re waiting for that next paycheck to come and provide some relief. If somebody asked you to give back to them right now, your answer would be a resounding NO!

You would probably say no because you feel that you just don’t have too much to give right now. You’re about to go back to school or work and the stress of the recent splurges weighs on your decision. Many people are not active in extending a hand out to others because they are unaware of all of the ways they can empower, support, and endorse others without spending a dollar. When considering the needs of underprivileged communities, friends, or peers, it is important to consider that everybody needs a team of people around them that all provide something unique.

I challenge you to think about the ways you can give back to the people around you outside of financially and perhaps cut one excuse from your arsenal. 

1) Give somebody just a piece of your time

Time is precious. It cannot be replaced and thus many people are concerned with “wasting time”. I hear it over and over about how some person or group is not “worth my time”. Time is something that many of us feel we are at a shortage of. If you think about your typical day, is there something that could be replaced that you don’t HAVE to do? There may even be plans that can be merged with others in order to “create time”. Recently I started having all of my phone calls while sitting in Atlanta traffic or while I am preparing food, that way I am not losing anything. Think about ways you leak time in your daily life and consider how much it would mean to others to have some of it. Time is one of the best gifts people can offer, we can give so much more in 2017.

2)Motivate somebody “just because’

Have you ever been a step away from quitting, only to have somebody close to you say the perfect thing! Many of us encounter something every day that we must make a decision to take on or leave alone. In 2017, when you think about somebody consider reaching out. Send a text, make a call, or even speak in person to somebody that is embarking on a journey. You should not underestimate the value of motivation. In fact, try to be an asset in somebody else’s life expecting nothing in return. This is a trait that is always appreciated. 

3)Lend Your Expertise

You may be good at something that somebody else isn’t. There are at least 10 people whom I have called or emailed because they were just better at something than I was. Many of the skills and attributes that we have the opportunity to enhance come from others I love when we utilize the resources in our circle to accomplish a goal. All of us have a skill or talent we take pride in. Use this to help somebody around you and build us all up. Steel sharpens steel.

4)Show others Compassion/Love

Probably the hardest one to just “give”, but definitely something that can not have a dollar value put on it. Compassion is one of those things that a lot of people do not know they are looking for, yet it is always appreciated. It is not really easy to “love” other people but showing love and just a general care for other people will make your life so much happier. 

5)Listening Ears are better than words

Yeah, sometimes it sucks to hear people vent or talk only about themselves. I am 100% percent positive that my best friend Damon does not want to hear me talk about my life. You never know what type of things you can learn about somebody else or even yourself by listening. You can think more about your feelings towards the things you’re hearing and less about your response. Listen, then think, then respond. 

6)Share Your Story

RB has hopefully inspired thousands of people this year to tell their story. Blogging and writing is becoming such an integral part of our society because the experiences we have are so vital to our learning as individuals. Share your experiences and in turn, share parts of the learning lessons involved. Of course, if you are in the midst of a journey or project that has presented challenges, you can always submit your story to our team.

7) Show Spirit, even if it’s not the holiday season anymore

All of our “new year, new me” posts typical include some sort of clause about being a more positive or optimistic individual.  Share a smile, share a quick conversation, hell share a Coke. Your upbeat ambiance and good nature will attract people to you and leave those around you happier.

At the end of the day, just adding one of these things to your every day life will not only make a tremendous influence in your own happiness, but also happiness of others. Let us know your thoughts or if you have any other tips!

RB

Thank You: An Open Letter

2 mins

Love the site and  the mission, keep up the good work.

You’re definitely not the same Kenny I knew [my] Freshman year. You’re so much more…But I like it.

On a day of thanks there are so many people that come to mind.  When starting a project, one of the hardest parts is going through the beginning stages. Some of the people in my circle have helped to make the transition to adulthood possible.The people here during that phase are forever a part of the journey. I just wanted to take a second to say thank you.

To Nia, there are very few people that can do what you did. Your passion fueled me to pursue my passion. The desire to help others and build our communities was amplified by you bringing out the best in me. I always talk about unconditional support but you redefined what support looks like. Phenomenal woman is more than an idea to conceive, it’s a reality you showed often. 

To Austin, how many people have a best friend, a brother, and a business partner in one? You are probably the biggest asset that I have personally, professionally, and motivationally (I know it’s not a word)

To Justine, you’re an inspiration. I know how hard it is to work hard for something you believe in. Just keep pushing and I definitely believe you’ll reach every goal you set.

To Andrew, I entered into your arena and your domain. There is no better person to have as my LB. Thanks for being a resource and a supportive ear. I am thankful for you today bruh. Can’t wait to see what the future holds for you. See you on December 16 man.

DBlock, you’re always there to talk to. Don’t really ever say nothing but I know I can count on you. Short and sweet. You’ve always had my back.

To the people who have read this article, any article, thank you. Right Before Magazine is in a position where it is here to stay and better today than it was yesterday. Keep giving feedback, remember that this project was never for personal gain but rather to build us all up. Strive to share your story, whether here or in your personal lives. I promise you it’s worth it. I am thankful for all of you!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

 

On The Verge Of Success

6 mins

By: Andrew Porter

Kenneth Duncan is on the verge of success. Born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Duncan graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Real Estate. UGA is connected to many of Duncan’s successes and failure’s alike. During his time at UGA, Duncan pledged Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. , the Zeta Pi Chapter—an accomplishment near and dear to his heart. Post graduation, Duncan has joined a consulting firm and embarks on a new adventure—the creation of an online  business and lifestyle magazine that captures the important moments before individuals become successful entitled Right Before Magazine. Duncan runs the site and views this as his magnum opus to date. I sat down with Duncan to discuss his magazine and the impact it has on himself, his community, and his future.

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What prompted you to start your magazine?

Duncan: I think the biggest prompt for it was always being motivated by other people. I like seeing others around me succeed and that pushes me to go harder. One of the ways I like to get motivated is by reading success stories or hearing about people in Forbes. I like reading Fortune magazine and seeing the richest people in the world. I idolize people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. In the Forbes 30 under 30 list, you don’t see a lot of people of color. The people of color that you do see come from Harvard, Princeton, Georgetown—places where there’s a lot of privilege. I have a lot of really smart friends that are floundering or stuck where they are because they don’t have privilege. I want to shed light to people who don’t have the same background that I have; to show that there are people who have less than you who have more challenges than you who are really pushing forward and persevering.

 

What do you want your goal of Right Before magazine to be?

I want to build a community. I want everybody to be able to inspire each other and help where they see fit. Starting at UGA, just seeing more community between us and our smartest people and pushing each other and then branching out to black people in general. Long term I want to see the black community take things into their own hands and build things from the inside out.

 

So basically, you want to use Right Before  magazine a tool to help teach?

 Yes and no. I feel like its collaborative learning—almost like a Google doc—where everyone has something to pitch in where we all have our own talent or challenge that we might have had and we come together and collaborate for a collective goal.

 

Do you consider yourself to be an entrepreneur?

Probably a serial entrepreneur. I want to have a lot of money one day. I enjoy the finer things in life, but also I am more of a philanthropist in nature just naturally. I enjoy giving back to the community seeing people really be successful and thrive.

 

What are some of your entrepreneurial adventures?

I started a company called Transcendence Management Inc. Transcendence Management Group is the embodiment of what I want my life to be like. Not just one or two companies but a conglomerate of companies based on the idea of transcending. Not just doing the bare minimum but going above and beyond what everyone else is doing. Everything I do is under the umbrella of Transcendence Management Group. I tried to do a Greek step show at UGA around Homecoming time; I just didn’t have the preparation to do it. Probably my best learning experience so far was a party last year for Georgia/Florida. I just chose a really bad partner, which lost me thousands of dollars. Now I’m looking to move into Real Estate investment in Atlanta after I make some money from my current job.

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What made the Homecoming step show unsuccessful?

I think to have a Homecoming step show you have to have the buy in from all D9 orgs. I needed the participation and work of every D9 Greek org. I was looking to have every organization represented. I think the biggest mistake was doing everything myself and not having everyone’s buy in.

 

What happened with the party in Jacksonville?

I actually had two options going into the party. I knew UGA would show out. My two options were to pick an Alpha chapter down in Florida that only had one member to market the party or I could choose a party promoter from Miami who was referred to me from another Alpha. I chose the party promoter because I thought he would have more pull. The party promoter ended up being a whack promoter and didn’t bring college students. Had I gone with the Alpha bruh from North Florida, he was guaranteeing 300-400 people. I didn’t believe in him, but I probably should have bet on him before I bet on a complete stranger. I went with the party promoter and lost a couple thousand dollars.

 

What did you gain from those experiences?

I think the first thing is don’t go into anything just blindly trusting people. I do believe that trust is earned now. The second thing is don’t be relying on someone else to make you money. I really relied on another person to come through. Even though UGA came and showed out in decent number, I wasn’t self-sufficient and everything I do pretty much from here on out, I’m self-sufficient.

 

Do you feel like right now you’re in your Right Before success moment?

I think this is my right before success moment. I views success as the people around me getting where they want to be and me helping push them there. Right Before Success to me is really us as a community and minorities in general becoming successful on our own in America. I think right now we are looking for people to save us, but I really want us to save ourselves.

 

What makes you passionate about your magazine?

 I like seeing people around me grow. I feel like that’s what life is about. Growing and seeing relationships grow and blossom and having an impact on people’s lives; that brings fulfillment. I try to give parts of every one of my checks to go to scholarships and contests to UGA’s campus because that gives me satisfaction seeing them go where they want to go and in return I hope that everyone will help me go where I want to go.

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How tough is it for a person like you who has been in a business and finance track to switch over to something like journalism dealing with creativity, design, and graphics?

 It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The hardest thing about it is that in business you can validate based off of dollars and cents. You really can’t quantify the returns in Journalism. I read my website and view the statistics every day on who reads my website and I try to quantify the numbers, but honestly if one person reads the article and says I like it, that’s all that makes a difference sometimes.

 

What’s been your most fulfilling moment up to date?

 The most fulfilling moment in the process is having people reach out to me and tell me they support me. It’s really just seeing people recognize what I’m doing. A lot of times people notice things and not really tell you, but I have people vocally telling me “we see what you’re doing, we appreciate it, and good luck.” That’s what motivates me to keep going. If one person is inspired by it, it makes it worthwhile.

 

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I really see myself mentoring, teaching and helping educating people who may have not had the resources—mentoring, teaching, father figure, fraternity structure—that I had. Really just using the rest of my life to be a mentor. Giving people a sense of hope that they didn’t previously have and bringing the advantages of privilege to those who are underprivileged, hopefully leveling the playing field.

 

How do you want to be remembered?

 I want to be remembered as a person who didn’t give up. One of my favorite poems is an Alpha poem called “Don’t Quit.” I think a lot of people can learn from it. That’s what Right Before is all about: not giving up and perseverance. I came out of college and didn’t have any money coming out. I had offers at Ernst and Young and Deloitte and I lost my internship offers. I had a lot of rough stuff happen, but I didn’t give up. I haven’t made it yet but as my story continues to grow and in a couple of years when I’ve found success, hopefully I can reach back and say, “Hey, look giving up is not an option.”

 

What do you want the audience that reads this article to know about you and your magazine?

 The biggest thing I want people to know is that this isn’t my magazine. This isn’t for me. I’m fueled by my failures I’ve had before. This is an opportunity for all of us to come together, collaborate and share our biggest ambitions and challenges with each other and to learn from one another. This is for anybody that has a goal and a dream and is looking for a support system. If you have no more fans just know I’m your fan. If you need money I can help you with that. If you need resources. If you need that one person to be your support system and give you that push, that’s what Right Before is about. It’s about anyone that has a goal or a dream and is on the verge of success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rebounding From Great Obstacles

3 mins

The greatest measure of a person is how they respond to adversity. For me, that moment happened when I got a 8-inch by 11-inch letter in the mail. It was from the University of Georgia and it read something like this…

Hi Mr. Thompson, We regret to inform you…..”

I stopped reading the letter as I got the picture. The University of Georgia had informed me that I would be deferred to regular admission (waitlisted) on my entrance application. Keep in mind, I had planned my entire life to attend UGA. My uncle played football here and I watched UGA sports since I was a kid. That year, I went to informational sessions and took IB school classes to boost my resume. I was even the valedictorian of my class.


None of it worked.

At that point, I thought that I was a complete and utter failure. I became completely down on myself and almost contemplated not applying for any other institution. To be honest with you, I cried like a newborn baby. I am not ashamed to admit it because I let my family, myself and all of my community down.

After about two weeks, I was cleaning my room and saw a picture of my grandmother. She always had a smile on her face, just like in the picture. Instantly, I remembered a conversation I had with her before she passed away.

“She told me to GIVE IT HIM. Cast all your cares upon the Lord because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

Admittedly, I needed to hear that message. See, I am a firm believer that God can make anything out of your situation. It is easy to fall down and wallow in depression. It is even easier to blame, disrespect, and tarnish those that are called to help you.

But the biggest accomplishment is how a person GETS UP. This is where you cultivate respect and acknowledgement. The Lord calls all his children to victory and glory. However, he never did say that the road will be problem-free.

So, my Right Before Success moment, was getting re-applying for the University of Georgia. I started by answering the required application essay questions. I also searched for the meaning of my purpose. I determined that I wanted to be a sports journalist and I took the necessary steps to achieve my goals.

All my hard work has paid off. In March of 2013, I was finally accepted into UGA. A few months followed and I was working for the Red and Black newspaper. I followed that up by having three internships, including achieving a dream of going to the Rio 2016 Olympics.

I say all of this show you that a past failure CANNOT derail the journey that God has planned for you. It is what you do at your lowest point that decides your final outcome. I chose to fight through my failure and I hope that you will do the same.

As I close this essay out, remember that life was designed to be hard. However, if you stick to your faith and keep pushing, everything will be granted in your favor.

It is at that point, you will reach your Right Before Success Moment.

 

Jaylon Thompson is a 4th year digital and broadcast journalism student at the University of Georgia. He is an aspiring sports broadcaster and looking to improve the world through positivity. My goal is to inspire others to achieve success in whatever area they go towards. Everyone has a story and I believe it is my job to let it be known to the world.