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The Girl Behind the Mic

It’s crazy - I recently came across a scholarship essay I wrote back in college, and it gave me chills thinking about where I am today. Here’s a snippet of what I wrote in 2011 during my sophomore year of college. “My future plans are to start off as a college intern, at a company that involves using my skills of business administration. I desire to graduate from Tuskegee University either cum lade or magna cum lade. I then would like to work for a management firm and eventually set out on an entrepreneurial path of my own. Ultimately, I plan to start a Girl Youth Empowerment foundation that focuses on less fortunate girls that need encouragement in finding their self-worth. I would like to also help girls develop some Christian values to help them become strong God-fearing women of power and determination”. Looking back, I guess I always had a passion for mentorship, being that mentorship really impacted my life as young girl.

You see, my story is an open book. During my adolescent years I struggled with self-confidence and peer pressure that caused me to make some poor decisions and risky behaviors. It wasn’t until years later that I found my voice and confidence to share with other young people within my community, how I was able to overcome my inner battles.

In October 2017, I launched my social media ministry called 'Listen Up with Jess,' where I started off making videos of me sharing my personal testimonies and my relationship with God; all while motivating young people to Listen Up to what God has called them to do. I started to receive amazing feedback from my supporters on Facebook, averaging 1k views every episode. The outcome of the feedback blessed me to be invited to speak at youth conferences and mentoring adolescent girls within my hometown of Huntsville,

Alabama. Fast forward to February 2019, I relocated to Georgia and decided to relaunch 'Listen Up with Jess' into Christian Culture Podcast for young adults. I now use my platform to reach thousands of young people across social media and the podcasting space, for an audience that desires to learn more about becoming the best version of themselves. Today, the 'Listen Up with Jess' Podcast has opened many doors for

me to become a motivational speaker and connect with several young people in the Greater Atlanta Area.

As I navigate through this journey of using my gift and platform, I still struggle with doubt and fear of really stepping out on faith to pursue my dreams full time. One of my favorite quotes always pushes me to keep pressing forward: “If there is NO struggle there is no progress”- Frederick Douglass. Building a brand is hard, staying consistent is hard, creating space for your voice to be heard is hard and mentoring authentically is

hard. There are days I really feel like I’m killing it and then there are days I feel like “wow, there’s so much more I want to accomplish”. But today, I’m learning to pace myself while finding a healthy balance in creating long term goals and remaining thankful for the progress I have made so far. I make it my mission to stay true to who I’ve become and sharing my story no matter what. It’s easy to get caught up in hype and chasing the clout when trying to get your name and business out there; and you can find yourself losing your “why” behind your brand/business. My brand and mission will always remain the same: to uplift and motivate young people within my community through authentically being me no matter what room I walk in or platform I speak on. Ultimately, I never want to trade my authenticity for the approval of an audience. My personal mantra will always be: “I’m not here to Impress, I’m here to Impact."

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