Excellence comes in a variety of forms.
Individuals who have come before us have worked extremely hard to provide us all with a platform that allows us to thrive in this world, giving us an opportunity to achieve our own excellence.
As an African American, however, this pursuit often collides with systemic racism.
But, in our community, achieving greatness will never be about leveling the playing field.
It’s about setting up and providing the next generation with opportunities to continue to build on the excellence that we have all worked so hard to display.
As I reflect on my journey to this point and my time at SMU, I am left with an incredible amount of gratitude and overwhelming feelings of pride for playing a part in all of this.
Growing up, long before my days at SMU, I was quite the ‘girly girl’.
Barbies, dolls, and of course, anything pink.
One day, however, my dad was taking my older brother, Walter, to the local YMCA to sign up for a basketball league.
I just had one question for him.
Could I join, too?
And well, I knew the family rule.
If I started the season, I had to see it through to the very end.
Quitting was not an option.
Despite not touching the basketball for the first several times up the court during my first game, I looked to my dad and expressed how quickly I fell in love. This was a sport that I was determined to be excellent at.
I spent my younger days playing on a variety of teams, mastering my fundamental skills, and dreaming of playing basketball at the next level.
That dream became a reality when I accepted a scholarship offer to play at SMU.
While my dreams were turning into reality, my journey was far from complete.
In fact, it was just beginning.
Despite the successes, personal bests, team awards, and double-figure scoring averages in my time at SMU, I often look back and reflect on my accomplishments in a much different way.
I think about all of the things that participating in athletics at the college level taught me.
Not only about the game, but about life.
Today, I work in tech sales for a cybersecurity company as well as the creator and CEO of Filmore Fit. On a daily basis, I utilize the skills that I learned from SMU and athletics.
I am willing to sacrifice for the team or do the “dirty work” behind the scenes that I may never get credit for.
I wake up early or stay late just to ensure that the job gets finished.
Everything I do in life today is a direct result of the skills that basketball instilled in me.
I’m a better mother, daugther, sister, friend, and employee for having played this beautiful game at SMU.
Without a doubt, playing basketball for the Mustangs paved the way for my very own pursuit of excellence.
Although my time at SMU came to an end many years ago, I have stayed very connected with the university.
Whenever time allows, I try to make it back and do what I can to engage with the community.
The brunch highlighting Black Excellence will be another opportunity for me to do just that.
I will have the opportunity to be amongst my peers and learn all of the amazing things that they are doing with their lives since leaving SMU.
How they are using their personal journies to promote good in the world and to put on full display how their experiences, both in life and at SMU, shaped who they are today.
Personally, I want to have the opportunity to provide a spark for change. No matter race, age, upbringing, or socioeconomic status, we are all far more similar than we are different from one another.
Above all else, I want others to recognize that.
The sooner we do, as a nation, the more our country will come together.
Education and communication are powerful tools, but if you are not willing to be involved in a community with people who are different than you, there is little hope for impactful change.
Through the years, I have learned that individuals are not invested unless they have a personal connection.
So, I want to create a personal connection amongst the individuals who will attend the brunch and make this an opportunity for all of us to come together as one. I want them to realize that commonalities exist among all of us.
These small changes in our little communities can lead to big changes in the world.
While the brunch will be an incredible time to come together and place Black Excellence on full display, the journey does not end here.
In my personal life, I want to continue setting an example for my daughter and instill the drive in her to do the same for generations to come.
I will always be far more than an athlete.
Representation matters, and as a Black woman, I will always do my part to ensure that others in my community know that they can do whatever they set their minds to.
Because the sky really is the limit.
For all of us.
The 2023 SMU Black Excellence Brunch is in the Miller Boulevard Ballroom on Sunday, February 19 at 11 a.m. The panelists are Rickey Bolden ’87, Alisha Filmore ’13, James T. Mobley ’81 and Everett Ray ’21.
For more information or to register, click here.