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Meet Black Girls Rock! Award winner Ty-Licia Hooker

November 20, 2013

by The People’s Minister of Information JR

Ty-Licia Hooker was a recent winner at the Black Girls Rock! awards ceremony, which aired on BET, for her work with the Stockton based non-profit that she co-founded for under-achieving students, called the Summer Success and Leadership Academy. Still in her early 20s, this dynamic young leader is on the rise and getting ready to take her project national. So we wanted the SF Bay View reading community to be up on her. Check out Ty-Licia Hooker in her own words …

Ty-Licia Hooker
Ty-Licia Hooker
M.O.I. JR: Can you introduce yourself and your non-profit to our readers?

Ty-Licia Hooker: Tupac once wrote a poem entitled, “A Rose That Grew from Concrete.” I first learned the poem when I was 10, and 13 years later, that poem is the perfect summation of who I am. I was born to a young mother, and I experienced the harshness of a violent community at the early age of 6 months, when my teenage father was murdered down the street from my home in Oakland.

Despite the gloomy statistics that foretold who I should become, I was able to defy the odds of falling into the traps of the streets and entered the collegiate gates of University of the Pacific, becoming the first person in my family to both attend and graduate college. While attending college, I learned that I would be servant leader for the rest of my life.

My name is Ty-Licia Hooker. I am currently a kindergarten teacher at Garfield Elementary. I am also a Teach For America Corps member – and public servant. At the age of 23, I have served on numerous committees and received local and national recognition for my efforts in creating a better community.

I am the co-founder and co-executive director of The Summer Success and Leadership Academy. Starting in the summer of 2010, the Summer Success and Leadership Academy was started to stem the rising tide of low educational attainment and youth violence in Stockton, California. My co-founder, Michael Tubbs, and I decided to open on the campus of the University of the Pacific during the summer to youth most affected by the violence, thus providing exposure to opportunities and resources that oftentimes seem unattainable in economically depressed communities.

Ty-Licia Hooker was a recent winner at the Black Girls Rock! awards ceremony, which aired on BET, for her work with the Stockton based non-profit that she co-founded for under-achieving students, called the Summer Success and Leadership Academy.

In the summer of 2011 we transformed the model for The Summer Success and Leadership Academy to a residential program that would also solve the problem of youth disengagement from community upliftment with the goal of empowering them to research, articulate and implement solutions to social ills in their communities.

Students selected for the program spent five days and four nights at the University of the Pacific in a residential experience designed, in the words of the mission of the academy, “To equip and empower the youth of Stockton to be leaders and active agents of change in their community.” The students selected for this program, however, are not the ones many would consider “leaders.”

In fact, in selecting students from the program, Tubbs and I decided to take a triage approach in admissions and selected those students for the program who ordinarily would not have been given the chance to experience life on a university campus. Some students who have participated in this program are in continuation schools, have less than 3.0 GPAs, were frequently truant and had disciplinary problems.

Ty-Licia Hooker and colleagues
Ty-Licia Hooker and colleagues
These students are given classes on personal empowerment, leadership, community organizing, research and the college admissions process. They are also given a cohort of the entire program and their community action plan groups, in addition to being paired with a college-educated mentor from the community and rap about support services that extend past the five days of the program into the next school year.

M.O.I. JR: Can you talk a little bit about how you got noticed by the show Black Girls Rock?

Ty-Licia Hooker: Black Girls Rock! has a research team, who over the year, look for amazing Black girls who are doing phenomenal work in their community. This year I was chosen to be one of the girls they recognized.

M.O.I. JR: What is Black Girls Rock! for those of us who have never heard of it?

Ty-Licia Hooker: Black Girls Rock! is a historic and monumental show highlighting the accomplishments of exceptional women of color who have made outstanding contributions to their community. Further, beyond the show, Black Girls Rock! is dedicated to promoting positive images of women of color in mass media. Black Girls Rock! Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that has been dedicated to the healthy development of young women and girls since 2006.

M.O.I. JR: What was it like getting acknowledged in a room full of high powered women, including Patti Labelle, Ledisi, Tatanya Ali, Kelly Rowland, Regina King and others?

Ty-Licia Hooker: I am truly humbled. To be recognized and honored amongst ALL those living legends feels like a dream! I think for a while I believe I was in shock. I kept asking myself, “Is this real? How did find out about the work I am doing in Stockton?”

Nonetheless, I am so excited that Summer Success and Leadership is getting national attention and that Stockton as a city will be associated with positive images and not negative ones.

M.O.I. JR: When was it filmed? Where?

Ty-Licia Hooker: This year the Black Girls Rock! Awards took place at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in downtown Newark and it was filmed Oct. 26, 2013.

Black Girls Rock! is a historic and monumental show highlighting the accomplishments of exceptional women of color who have made outstanding contributions to their community.

M.O.I. JR: Besides what we saw on TV, how was it behind the scenes?

Ty-Licia Hooker: The experience was surreal! Everything from BET’s hospitality to the Cover Girl Makeover to walking the pink carpet was phenomenal! As I truly reflect on the experience, I have to thank BET, Black Girls Rock! and My Black is Beautiful for not only treating me so well but also my mother and my grandmother. They were my dates, assistants and prayer partners through the whole trip and to see the smiles on their faces made me want to work even harder to give them the life I know they deserve.

Additionally, it was really cool for me to see behind the scenes how awards shows are taped. The production team worked really hard on explaining all the rules to the audience and kept our energy really high throughout the show. However that was not hard to do in a room full of talented and successful women and men.

M.O.I. JR: Did you have any words with staff, entertainers or other winners?

Ty-Licia Hooker: The award I received from BET was the M.A.D. Girl Award, which is an award that recognizes the dynamic achievements of the next generation of young ladies: specifically, young ladies who are “Making a Difference” aka “M.A.D. Girls.” All the M.A.D. girls are young women under 30 who are changing the world for the better.

Ty-Licia Hooker wins M.A.D. Girl Award at Black Girls Rock! awards ceremony BET
Ty-Licia Hooker wins the M.A.D. Girl Award at the Black Girls Rock! awards ceremony on BET.
In addition to myself, this year’s dynamic “M.A.D. Girls” are Brooklyn Wright and Mary Pat Hector. I am constantly inspired by these two young ladies. Brooklyn Wright’s call to action has certainty made a lasting impact on my younger cousins as well as the students in my kindergarten class.

Two experiences really stood out to me during the show. I was able to sit next to the dynamic actress Tasha Smith. While attending the show, I felt like she was my auntie! She kept it so real, she was genuinely happy for the work I was doing my community and she didn’t judge me for dancing all through the show. Also I met Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child. Michelle and I shared a very heartwarming conversation where she encouraged me to continue the work I was doing to make the world a better place. That for me felt like a dream, as I grew up with and still play Destiny’s Child records.

M.O.I. JR: Has your organization received more attention after being on Black Girls Rock?

Ty-Licia Hooker: Yes! Summer Success and Leadership Academy was a very Stockton-based program and I didn’t think the word of what we were doing had spread far and wide. Now I know it has! I am excited to have community members ask how to sign their teens up, college students wanting to be mentors, and to hear from other cities on how to bring the Summer Success and Leadership Academy model to their cities.

M.O.I. JR: What’s next for your non-profit?

Ty-Licia Hooker: Summer Success and Leadership Academy was a God-given idea, and I know that as my co- founder and I move on we are heavily relying on God’s direction on what exactly to do next. But one thing is for sure: We want to keep growing the program to affect and change as many lives of students and communities as we can.

M.O.I. JR: How can people show their support for what you are doing?

Ty-Licia Hooker: Take time to like our page on Facebook. We can be found on Facebook pages as: Summer Success and Leadership Academy.

If folks would like to donate, they can also donate to our program by emailing stocktonssla@gmail.com. We are always looking for people to sponsor students.

M.O.I. JR: How can people stay in touch with you?

Ty-Licia Hooker: People can find me on Facebook at Ty-Licia Hooker or on Twitter at @iamtyhook.

Stay tuned for my website coming soon!

The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey is associate editor of the Bay View, author of “Block Reportin’” and filmmaker of “Operation Small Axe” and “Block Reportin’ 101,” available, along with many more interviews, at www.blockreportradio.com. He can be reached at blockreportradio@gmail.com.

 

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