Although I never know what to expect from my interviewees, I am always eager for the knowledge each Success Formula has to share. My interview with Dr. Gill is important for a variety of reasons, but most importantly because I know that she overcame a struggle few with freedom can freely discuss. Every year a criminal amount of African-Americans become entangled in the justice system. Years ago while working toward her Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Dr. Gill became a victim of the system as well.
A recipient of the inaugural Bill Gates Millennium Scholarship Program, Dr. Gill has relentlessly engaged in dialogue and outreach that encourages access to education for minorities. Going a step further Dr. Gill founded Blackademically Speaking Enterprises, a company that focuses on understanding cultural barriers that prevent young people from being motivated to learn. A short list of what Dr. Gill and Blackademically Speaking are doing to affect community development include weekly talks in Woodlawn at St. John Temple on Monday nights as well as regular speaking engagements and workshops throughout the United States to educators, parents, and students that focus on overcoming obstacles to academic attainment. Most recently Blackademically Speaking coordinated a celebratory field trip for some of Chicago’s excelling high school scholars. Dr. Gill’s message always encourages “going back to give back”, which is one of the reasons Blackademically Speaking was born, and will be raised in her home community, Woodlawn (Chicago).
Dr. Gill’s parents did not shy away from voicing their opinion about community happenings. As an investor and stakeholder of their community, each of her parents knew they had a right to voice their opinions and solutions about their neighborhood, but always focusing on developing their first community- home. When Dr. Gill and her brother would receive new clothes or shoes, her parents would say “if we see you bragging to others about what you have, we will take it from you”. Today, Dr. Gill is happy about her achievements, but never compares her blessings to others.
It is always important to understand how Success Formula’s multi-achieve. Dr. Gill plans and seeks counsel through scriptures and the Holy Bible. “I am growing up in God and learning balance by listening to the Holy Spirit. For Blackademically Speaking this means I have to learn to say ‘No….. I can’t do everything’.” And on a more practical note Dr. Gill hired an administrative assistant in order to be 100% effective. Meditation and surrounding herself with individuals that understand the vision of Blackademically Speaking are also important factors that allow Dr. Gill to maintain her mental health during this journey.
When I asked her to share with me a community asset that she feels is a hidden gem, Dr. Gill quickly replied, “children are a community asset that have been written off; they are the gems God blessed us with.”
These moments are why I do this – to be reminded of things society and time would so easily have us forget.
I doubt that my interview has done justice to the road map that Dr. Chandra Gill is creating. What I can tell you is that her passion, dedication, and resourcefulness are aspects of success that I hope to emulate in all of my commitments.
Dr. Chandra Gill’s Success Formula= Motivate to Educate + Family first + Guided by the Holy Spirit+ Culturally relevant academia
More Dr. Chandra Gill
What allows you to wear your greatness?
“I’m trying to not spend a lot of time wasting my time.” Dr. Gill’s spare time is spent with family, learning family history and embracing family as her first community. Recently Dr. Gill learned that she was not the first of her family to go to college. This was discovered after exploring more about her family tree, thus showing the importance of connecting and engaging with family.
What is your idea of community development?
“Community development must include the future! The future is the young people. Although the elders voice is important because it started with their gifts and ingenuity, we must transition leadership to youth 15-20 years old. Community development should be a fluid discussion and plan that includes educational values, economic empowerment, sustainability, and spiritual aspects.”
January kick off for Blackademically Speaking 2012 initiatives to include students at all grade levels being active participants in community efforts to “Motivate to Educate.“