In 2013,  a symposium for media industry leaders, innovators, and young people originated with the purpose of discussing the status and potential impact of multiculturalism in the digital field. From this, DREAM Digital was birthed through the Scripps Howard School of Journalism at Hampton University. Two years later a passionate and highly innovative professor by the name of Allie-Ryan Butler has taken the symposium and manifested it into a two week program incorporating traditional education, hands on learning, and social interaction. This program, DREAM Digital Academy, is an opportunity for high school teens from all over the country to come together with peers from different walks of life. They have the opportunity to get first hand instruction in all things encompassing the technology world ranging from coding and design to basic entrepreneurial tips and insights.

Prior to me embarking on the Journey To A Dream™ road trip I was overwhelmed and humbled when I was presented with the opportunity to speak to the teens. I was blessed with the opportunity to not only design a t-shirt for the academy but, infuse my mission with that of dream digital in doing so. After hearing about the camp I simply extended my hand as a volunteer. This action further solidifies something I live and speak often; the willingness to serve others. Everything I’ve built is based on this concept and everything I have become has been a direct result of this. Never in a million years did I think I would be participating in something so major at this point in my career. Service is something I’ve not only been taught but something I’ve seen first hand constantly in my upbringing. I have so many notes dating back to January of 2013 referencing the power of service:

Unless you are going to serve, talent means nothing. Pastor Gerard Ruff, 11/20/2013

You never know when serving is going to connect you to your next level of being. Pastor Gerard Ruff, 4/28/2013

Through my willingness to serve which was fueled by my eagerness to learn more in hopes of growing myself and my business, I was presented with the biggest opportunity of my career thus far. Aligning myself with a prestigious school like Hampton University was never in my plans, vision, or on my radar for that matter. Internally I knew at some point things like this could be possible but not this early in the game for me. Then I had to stop and think, it’s not early in the game, I’ve been in business for three years. I’ve been working towards this direction for at least 8 years. If you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers then you can imagine that I’m nearing my 10,000 hours. So, no…none of this is really far fetched, it’s actually aligned with things that I desired for myself and the timing that God has for me.

Nervousness didn’t play a factor until the day of because I was so in awe of what was about to take place in my life. It’s a lot of pressure to attempt to leave an impression on the minds of teenagers. We agreed that it would be a relaxed setting and I was informed that I didn’t even have to dress up. Imagine walking in a room knowing you have a speaker ahead of you and seeing a young woman covered in tattoos and wearing Jordans. I couldn’t even tell you what I would have thought but this is what one of the young women said to me:Image-1

You know, when they said we had to go listen to a speaker I was like, OH GOD! Because you know, speakers can be boring and just nobody is ever really here for that. But you…you were good. We could relate to you and you made things easy for us to understand. I think we all took something from it and you did a great job. I have so much respect for that.

I’m unsure if the group could tell my level of nervousness because I was sweating like crazy but I got through it. We had a brief Q&A prior to me announcing that as part of my deal to speak I designed a t-shirt to be given to the students to encourage them to not only DREAM Digital but also encourage them to have an entrepreneurial mentality.

The t-shirt is a reworked design of my “Knowledge is 🔑” sweatshirt released late last year. When I learned of the opportunity the first thing I did was contact my friends over at Pyramid Dreams and extended the opportunity to them as well. Again, service. So not only did I get blessed with this amazing opportunity but Pyramid Dreams redesigned the Academy logo to accompany the back of the shirt.

Image-1DREAM (Diversity Re-Imagine Engaging All Media) Digital Academy has not only been a blessing to me but will continue to bless and inspire our leaders of tomorrow. I would like to thank the good people at Hampton University and Scripps Howard School of Journalism for the opportunity. To the group that I’ve been so lucky to interact with and establish relationships with, you guys were awesome and I will never forget you. Thank you to TC over at Pyramid Dreams for being courageous enough to take on this project. Thank you for just jumping out there with me not too long ago and committing yourself to riding with me and everything I’m trying to build. I asked you to trust me and you did, you have my utmost respect.

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