HERstory Is Historic
by Kiyana Perkett
Flint is a small place with huge intensions and impacts. It continues to make immense waves within US history. It's also the place where I grew up and many other successful citizens in this country. Flint has not always been 'that place that's constantly under a negative spotlight,' nor was it always 'the city with lead water.' For many, Flint is an amazing place; teaching its natives mental toughness, community, and service. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to briefly gain insight from one of the great success stories of Flint; Dr. Ashley Green.
My journey through her life began with us discussing her high school career. Dr. Green was once a student at Flint Southwestern Academy. At that time, it was one of four schools within the city limits[currently Flint has only two open high schools]. Southwestern was one of her favorite places to be. She was often surrounded by great friends [that constantly challenged her to give her best], coaches [her track coach] that never allowed her to settle; and amazing athletic entertainment [high school basketball] that at the time was the best the country had to offer. Flint always felt like a very close community in Green's eyes.
Flint also suffered with a lack of options for youth. Many times due to the size of the city; at other times it was Flint's dwindling economy that was a direct result of the relocation of General Motors and its jobs. Dr. Green attributes her desire to assist her community and others to Flint and the atmosphere it provided her. It's a much more positive picture that what is painted by main stream media.
Ashley Green wasn't always acknowledged as 'Dr. Green.' Her journey was a difficult one, full of adversity and triumphs. Her biggest inspiration though, has always been God. Dr. Green is a woman of faith first and foremost. 'Faith' has been the driving force to her success. It began by taking a small leap 45 minutes west to Michigan State University to earn her bachelor's degree in Psychology. East Lansing, Michigan was a very different place from Flint.
Before Green was comfortably enrolled into courses at MSU, many had written her off and developed low expectations for her. Dr. Green shared that she was often the only African American in classes of over 200 students. Many doubted Dr. Green simply because she was an African American woman from Flint, Michigan.
Green was able to overcome those odds and obstacles and move forward toward her next goal at hand; her masters degree. Green enrolled at the University of Toledo while simultaneously starting a family and working a full time job. I couldn't imagine the endurance it would take to succeed with those types of demands on you mentally, physically, and spiritually . I am grateful to witness Dr. Green's example. It has inspired me tremendously, as a student, and more importantly as a woman.
Dr. Green could've easily stopped there. But why would she? There was so much more to attain. Not for selfish gain, but in order to set precedence; she is a woman that would never give reward to excuses from herself, friends, family, or young aspiring women like myself. Her actions allow us to see that we can go above and beyond the boxes that others attempt to place us in. Dr. Green did exactly that by enrolling at Western Michigan University with the goal of obtaining her PhD in Educational Leadership. I'm sure it wasn't her goal to make history, but her accomplishment is historic. When I feel like 'I can't,' Dr. Green has shown me that 'I can.'
Ashley is currently the Director Of Scholarships at Michigan State University and reflectively wise to seeing other African American women striving to overcome similar obstacles that she once faced. She's proud to provide them encouragement and also a living example and testimony. These young women remind her of a common and humble beginning. Home has always been where Dr. Green's heart is. Living outside of the Flint area for some time has verified for Green a large number of problems plaguing her beloved hometown of Flint, Michigan.
Green is clear on many of the negatives that have taken root in Flint. But she is active in growing and nurturing the positives seeds sprouting in the that community as well. She believes highly in the people of Flint and noted a few other great inspirations such as Vehicle City Fashion Week; an event founded by her good friend, Flint native, and entrepreneur Kala Wilburn.
Since her athletic days at Southwestern High School [where she won several state track & field events] Dr. Green has never believed in watching from the sidelines. She's devoted herself to the trenches in Flint as well as other communities in need [Los Angeles, California; Houston, Texas] around the country through an amazing program called "Girls With Gifts." This program matches young girls with mentors and helps them discover their talents and grow as individuals. 2016 marks the 4th year of this influential program. GWG's plans to expand geographically and exit their 'summer program' status by becoming an outlet and tool of encouragement to young women year round.
After interviewing someone like Dr. Ashely Green, I could go on to write a book about her [but I won't]. It is very important to understand how powerful this woman is and how historic her achievements are. It's significant to highlight women like this, even when they would never highlight themselves. She has experienced many potential deterrents and changed the perspective of several stereotypes while on her journey. Founded in faith, Dr. Green continues to be history in the making; by simply writing HERstory. Because of her, I will NEVER allow anyone to discourage me from achieving my dreams. - KP