Friday, November 9, 2007

My Own Personal Brand

Earlier today, my boss, Dan Bassill, pointed me to fantastic blog called Perspectives from the Pipeline, written by Rosetta Thurman, a young African-American woman working at a non-profit in the Washington DC area. I recommend that you read all of her entries, but the one that Dan recommend I read, and which I thought was especially relevant was titled "Get Yourself a Reputation: Blogging for Personal Branding." In this post, Ms. Thurman discusses the issues that young people of my generation face in entering the work force that is dominated by our parents' and grandparents' generation. Ms Thurman's approach to this issue of making a name for herself and setting a positive example of people of our generation. She accomplishes this through her blog - a way of creating her own personal brand and she has been extremely successful with this way of branding. I too hope that through my blog and my outreach I will also create a personal brand that people will recognize as positive and want to invest in as I get further along in my career. Probably one of the most personally gratifying things that I've heard in the past week is when an acquaintance from Northwestern who's a recent graduate as well and who is also working in the non-profit sector told me "Oh Nicole, I love reading your blog!" Hopefully people will be inspired by Ms. Thurman's blog and all that she has accomplished and eventually be inspired by my blog as well.

Another blog that I have recently discovered is that of Will Okun's, a young teacher working in a Chicago inner-city high school. Mr. Okun is one of the bloggers for Nicholas Kristof, one of my favorite columnists, New York Times column. Mr. Okun rights about triumphs and struggles of working with inner-city African-American teenagers - something that I can definitely relate to. In his latest blog post, "Understand?", Mr. Okun writes about the question of whether black teachers are better able to connect with and help black children succeed than white teachers. This is something that I have often asked myself - "What is a white girl from Eugene, OR with a degree from Northwestern University doing working with black kids from Chicago's Cabrini-Green Housing Project." I've found that with some kids I can relate to automatically - we'll discuss hip hop music (I even introduced them to some of my favorite artists who are more underground), tv shows such as Family Guy and Chappelle's Show, and how we love our large, crazy families (one of my students asked, when I told him that his description of his "auntie" sounded a lot like my beloved Aunt Gail, "oh you love your Auntie too!") But then there are some kids who I think just don't understand what I'm doing working here. After one of my middle school girls called me "white girl" (no, I have a name, thank you very much) I told my frustrations to one of the graduates of the program who I've become friends with. He sighed and expressed his dismay over the lack of role models that these kids have and told me "Just keep doing what you're doing, because it's obvious you love them and you're a great role model, especially for our girls." That pretty much made my day and it made me realize that despite the fact that all these kids need positive, African-American role models who have experienced what they have experienced, doesn't mean that you loving them and helping them isn't doing them a world of good too.

1 comment:

Rosetta Thurman said...

Hi Nicole! Thanks for reading my blog. One of the things that struck me as I was reading some of your entries was how authentic you are about your passion for education and change. When it comes to personal branding, I think that's one of the most important things. That's why blogging is such a great medium - you can "connect" to people without ever meeting them face to face if they come off as real as you do. I love what you're doing here and I hope you keep it up!