Portrait of a KIPPster is a photoblog of glimpses into the stories and moments that give us pause and purpose.
Simone Edwards, a graduate of KIPP SoCal school was selected to participate in KIPP’s national Alumni Leadership Accelerator program, a year-long fellowship for KIPP alumni leaders in their 20s and 30s. Applicants were selected as fellows based on their achievements, leadership experience, and vision for impact.
Selected fellows receive personalized, executive leadership coaching, access to networking and skill building opportunities and join a cohort of KIPP graduates from across the country. Simone is among 23 KIPP alumni nationwide who were selected as fellows this year, chosen from a competitive pool of over 100 applicants nominated by their KIPP regions.
We caught up with Simone, our 26-year old social media influencer and blogger superstar, seeking to continue to build her platform to talk about body diversity within the media and entertainment industry, connect with others and be a catalyst for change. Here's what she had to say:
What aspect of the fellowship program are you most excited about ?
Most excited about. Being able to fine tune those skills that create an impeccable leader, I have the passion and will to get things done but often times find the the minuscule things (like time management or being able to delegate and use my time efficiently, are things that I haven’t developed to be able to push my cause forward.
I’m also excited to meet a mentor, someone who is aware and knowledgable of what I’m passionate about, and having their expertise, being taught in an intimate way so that I’m really able to take what I learn and execute it.
What aspect of the fellowship do you feel you'll benefit most from?
One of the important things that I think I will most certainly benefit from is the networking aspect, being able to connect with others on the same page, because for a long time, I’m thought that I’m going to be the savior for my cause, the one who does it, but even though that may be possible, it’s non sensical, because I know takes a team, it takes a village, it takes people who are on the same page, willing to help and push this cause forward because they believe in it and because in some way they relate to it.
What is it about your background or sensibilities that led you to your cause?
I was bullied for being a big kid, until I got to high school, and I went to an arts high school, and I was able to channel that energy into something creative, and something with purpose, and something that will be able to impact others. And from there, my outspokenness and my drive to make a difference got people to follow me. People wanted to keep up with me, keep up with my journey, and what I had to say seemed to make an impact on them. I’m so grateful for that and the next step in my mind is to make this a bigger thing so other people can join along. They can have something tangible that they can get involved with, which then creates a bigger team and now something that might have been created by me and now supported by and run by thousands of others.
What part of yourself do you want to develop professionally?
I want to be able to develop a sense of my passion to match my work ethic. Sometimes the passion gets stuck in my head, and I feel like it may be impossible to execute. So, being able to work intellectually and problem solve to make my passion and dream a reality and be able to take my time with it.
What advice would you give an elementary or middle school KIPPster?
I would tell them that passion and hard work makes you unstoppable. I think one of things our society has pushed, is that you work hard to get to your goal, you get a job and get out. And kids should understand that you can love what you do and be successful in it, it just takes equal parts ambition, drive and willingness to do the hard work. Just do what makes you happy and the success will come.