By Tessa Jillson
Junior Kiara Davis was announced as the 2019 phenomenal woman award winner at FSU’s annual ceremony, held in the Forum March 5.
David Baldwin, associate dean of students and master of ceremonies, said, “I know it’s a tumultuous time here on campus, in our country, and across the world, but you are worthy. Never underestimate who you are, what you are, what you contribute to society, to yourselves, to your families, to your friends.”
Baldwin said he recently downloaded India.Arie’s newest album, “Worthy,” and immediately thought the songs on the album carried a strong message that resonated.
“I want you to know that you are all worthy, that you are all contributors and you are all worth something. That gets a little lost I think – worrying about other folks, worrying about your family, worrying about your friends, and you forget about that person inside – you. And I’m asking you to not forget about that person,” he said.
One of Baldwin’s favorite songs from the album is titled, “Rollercoaster.” In the song she talks about the world as a rollercoaster ride. “She wants it to stop. She wants to get off. She’s tired of the rollercoaster,” Baldwin said.
Keynote address speaker and 2005 alumna, Juna Delinois-Pierre talked about her life as a “successful” woman, its ups, and its downs.
Delinois-Pierre, who in 2017 launched her own consulting company and in 2018 became the founding president for the New England Chapter of the National Association of African American Human Resources, questioned how she defined success and whether she is a successful woman, herself.
Delinois-Pierre announced to the forum how her morning “sucked” – her 5-year-old daughter woke her up, her two kids were fighting, and to top it all off, she forgot to put on deodorant before leaving for work.
“I don’t know why I’m here,” she said. “I know literally why I’m here. I’m here to honor the beautiful phenomenal women who will be honored today. But I have no idea why I am standing in front of you awkwardly reading off the slides of paper. I keep getting tripped up on the words success and balance. ‘Am I a success?’ I keep asking myself.”
She said there is no such thing as balancing a career and family. Balance, which means poise, equilibrium, and stability, in no way defines her day-to-day life, she said.
Somedays she said she “can be an A at work, a B- with my husband, and a C with my kids.
“What’s not OK is this false narrative that you must be perfect. That you must strive for perfection. It’s impossible and it’s not obtainable.”
She added, “Last year, I took my cape off. It was a super women cape that I was wearing because I thought I had to. Even though I started to get real about myself, I was afraid to take my cape off. It was my security blanket. When I took the cape off, I disrupted the status quo and I got off the rollercoaster.”
Delinois-Pierre said, “Success to me is the ability to keep growing, the gratitude to recognize my own growth. It is being authentic and crying when I’m hurt and resting when I’m tired. … It’s being proud of all the good, the bad, and the ugly.”
Davis, who was nominated by Dawn Ross, director of career services and employer relations, is a mother of three, works as a student supervisor in the Career Services and Employer Relations office, is a RAM academic strategy mentor, participated in a forum for the Learning By Giving Foundation as an alumni speaker, and has many other personal and academic accomplishments.
According to Ross, Davis successfully completed a non-profit and giving course, where the class donated $10,000 to My Life My Choice, and she will also be the guest speaker this year for the course. The organization assisted women from human trafficking and won out of 25 others proposed by the class. Davis also volunteered with an organization in Boston that is geared toward combating human trafficking.
Ross said, “Kiara Davis is the epitome of what I consider a Phenomenal Women to be. She truly is the face of FSU and a resilient and powerful woman leader.”