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Women's History Month: Honoring Stories of Everyday SHEROES, Trailblazers, Pioneers, and Changemakers. Meet Crystal Richards

Black Girl College Prep is dedicated to enhancing the academic prowess, leadership development, and overall life and career preparedness of young women from underserved communities in middle school and up.


As the founder of Black Girl College Prep, I couldn't think of a better time than Women's History Month to highlight a variety of local trailblazers, pioneers, extraordinary changemakers, and professional women in my own network, giving our girls tangible examples of something to strive for. Spring has sprung; now is the perfect time to hand out fresh flowers.


I mean, of course, I believe in giving people their flowers when they are still able to smell them.

There is power in storytelling and opportunity in transparency, vulnerability, and humble learning and unlearning. Many of these incredible stories are filled with just that—learning, unlearning, transparency, vulnerability, fearlessness, and charting new paths—which, in my opinion, sums up what Women's History Month is all about. It is through tenacity and authenticity that we create stories that will inspire, guide, and lead the way for a future generation of women. From discussing college majors, career choices, and the highs and lows of growing into womanhood, these women's shared experiences are designed to inspire our network of young girls by amplifying the diversity of their voices and adding to the collective narrative of women's empowerment. These stories contribute to building a more prepared generation of middle school, high school, and college students. 


Today, we would like to pay tribute to Crystal Richards. Crystal is a Georgetown University graduate, an engaging instructor, a project management expert, a master trainer, and an entrepreneur who is passionate about helping business professionals achieve their goals of project management and agile excellence.

Black Girl College Prep spotlights Crystal Richards
Black Girl College Prep spotlights Crystal Richards

Let's check out some of Crystal's career paths and the journey that got her where she is today.

 

So,  Crystaltell us, what was your major in college, and are you working in that field? If not, why not?

For my undergrad, I majored in economics with a minor in computer science. I minored in computer science to appease my dad, who wanted me to have a backup plan. I've always found economics interesting. By chance, my first econ class was taught by a health economist who opened my eyes to the world of healthcare administration. I never knew that field existed. As a result, I ended up pursuing a master’s in healthcare administration.


What is the best piece of career advice that you've ever gotten, and why?

Some of the best career advice I’ve gotten consists of a few things, including, first and foremost, not focusing on titles as titles come and go and the importance of enjoying what you do. Another good piece of advice was “get paid because you have student loans to pay back.”


I’ve used this advice, and as a result, I don’t get hung up on titles, especially now in the field of project management; a project manager comes in all shapes, sizes, and titles.


 What message would you offer your 18-year-old self?

I would give my 18-year-old self this advice: It’s ok to change careers and your mind. At 18, you’re still figuring it out. Shoot, at 47, I’m still figuring it out.


Tell us about your career journey, including both major successes and disappointments.

My career journey has been a rollercoaster, from dreaming of designing fabulous outfits to owning my own project management training company. While I initially envisioned myself in the fashion world, my academic pursuits led me to attain a master’s degree in healthcare administration.


During this time, I discovered my aptitude and passion for consulting and project management.


One major success in my career was the realization that my skills and creativity could thrive in project management.


As I took on various projects, I found myself excelling and enjoying the autonomy of managing them. This success propelled me to venture into entrepreneurship, founding my own project management training and advisory services.


I really can’t think of a disappointment in my career. I have encountered setbacks, for sure. However, I have grown to see one door closing as the opportunity for another door to open. And I’m reminded of what a friend used to say: “There is no losing, only learning; you lose when you don’t learn the lesson.”


What advice would you give a middle schooler, high schooler, or college girl about life?

My advice to middle schoolers is all about discovering who you are and what you're passionate about. Embrace your uniqueness, and don't let anyone dull your sparkle!


For high schoolers, prioritize balance. School is important, but so is your mental and emotional well-being. Find activities outside of school that bring you joy and help you unwind. Whether it's sports, music, art, or volunteering, make time for the things that light you up.


To college girls, do internships!!! And don't shy away from study abroad experiences, even if it's a spring break program with your school- I wish I had studied abroad in college. College is full of possibilities and opportunities, so make the most of it!



To all girls: Always remember that you are capable, resilient, and deserving of success. Dream big, work hard, and never underestimate the power of believing in yourself. I do a power pose in front of the mirror every day!


What does Women's History Month mean to you, as a Black woman?

For me, Women’s History Month is an amazing time for young people as it is more acceptable to recognize other cultures and women for their accomplishments. Yes, “back in my day,” I don’t recall significant recognition of Women’s History Month in school–and I’m NOT that old!!


Today, as a Black woman in her 40s with a career in both corporate America and entrepreneurship, Women’s History Month holds profound significance for me. I am so impressed by women’s countless contributions, achievements, and resilience throughout history.


For me, Women’s History Month is a reminder of the remarkable strength and courage displayed by Black women in the face of adversity. It’s an opportunity to honor the trailblazers who made it possible for me to get where I am and have paved the way for future generations. It’s also a time to be vigilant of gender-based discrimination and racial inequality that still permeates our society. But despite the challenges, Women’s History Month is also a celebration of resilience. It serves as a powerful reminder of the indomitable spirit of women.


Any final thoughts for closing Women’s History Month?

Young women should know that social media presents an interesting challenge in balancing mental well-being, filled with filters, trends, and opinions flying left and right. An important tip to keep in mind: You’re in control.


Don’t get me wrong, I love Instagram for the pictures and the memes. But social media can also be filled with pitfalls, such as comparison and FOMO, you name it. First off, don’t believe everything you see. Behind every picture-perfect post lies a real, messy, imperfect human being – just like you and me. So take everything with a grain of salt and remember that what you see isn’t always the full picture.


Secondly, know when to step away. Social media can be a bit like junk food – addictive in small doses, but too much can leave you feeling pretty ‘blah.’ And I do block accounts that do not bring me joy.


And lastly, be mindful of your own impact. What you post, share, and comment on can have a ripple effect – for better or for worse. 

 

I sincerely hope that you enjoyed Crystal's story and gleaned something valuable from it.  We hope you enjoyed all the features this month! Be sure to share your top takeaways with your learners or the students in your sphere of influence.


Again, it is by sharing our experiences that we can educate, motivate, and empower the next generation of lady leaders.


Stay connected with us on social media @blackgirlcollegeprep


Connect with Crystal Richards on linkedin here or social media @theMindsparQ


Xo,

Coach Rahk


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