Total loan: $5,000
Philadelphia, PA, United States / Services
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A loan helped write a teen girl empowerment book, develop a website and purchase the services of a professional grant writer.
Hello, my name is Shalena. I am a best-selling author, award winning speaker, scholar and entrepreneur. I still can’t believe I was able to accomplish all of these things. You see, statistically, I shouldn't have made it this far in life. I grew up in a rough housing project in South Philadelphia that was plagued with poverty, drugs and violence. I saw first-hand how drugs and violence can destroy communities and families, especially my own. My eldest brother was robbed and fatally shot while playing a game of cards with friends one summer night. My father got hooked on drugs and physically abused my mother. After years of IV drug use, my father became infected with HIV and eventually lost his battle with AIDS. Drugs and violence nearly shattered my family. Although my father had become addicted to drugs, he instilled the value of education and encouraged me to read at an early age. My father used to take me to the Philadelphia Free Library where I would spend hours reading books. Every time I finished reading a book, he would give me a shiny half dollar. My father would always tell me that I was very intelligent and that I would go to college some day. I had no idea what college was, but I knew I was going! Reading books helped to me realize that the world was bigger than my neighborhood and helped me to develop a global mindset. My love for learning also helped me to graduate from high school with a 3.97 GPA and become the first person in my family to attend college. I guess my father was right all of those many years ago. I was most proud of myself for achieving a major goal: getting accepted into an Ivy League University. I was accepted into the University of Pennsylvania and awarded the Philadelphia Mayor's Scholarship—a fully funded, four -year scholarship. I was truly honored, but my desire to see more of the world played a role in my decision to attend Duke University instead. While at Duke, I was awarded The McGaughey Higgins Scholarship which is also a four-year scholarship. I ultimately earned a degree in Political Science and graduated from Duke University in 2001. Upon graduating from Duke University I worked at a Fortune 500 company. Although I loved the company and received a great salary, I was unfulfilled. I wanted to directly impact people through my writing. After 5 years I left corporate America to form the Shalena D.I.V.A. Corporation, a personal development and economic empowerment company that offers business coaching, workshops and programs for women. When I am not inspiring women, I partner with local Philadelphia schools and organizations to empower at-risk inner city girls to take advantage of their education. Receiving a quality education made all the difference in my life. I want these young ladies to experience the same success and opportunities. This work is not only fulfilling, it is my passion.