TheGrio's 100: Chandra Gill, using her life experience to empower today's youth

theGRIO's 100 - Raised in the crime-ridden Woodlawn section of Chicago, Chandra Gill, Ph.D. uses her experiences to encourage youth to get an education through the group she founded, called Blackademically Speaking...

Chandra Gill, Ph.D., knows what it’s like to grow up in the inner city.

“Where I’m from, young people stand on corners they do not own and frequent stores owned by others. Where I’m from, churches overpopulate blocks as some of their own parishioners enter jails around the clock,” she writes on her website.

Raised in the crime-ridden Woodlawn section of Chicago, Gill can easily relate to children from urban communities. She uses her experiences to encourage youth to get an education through the group she founded, called Blackademically Speaking.

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In fact, she can speak personally relate to the benefits of a good education.

After going through the Chicago Public Schools system, Gill graduated and was accepted into the inaugural class of the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholars Program, which gives students a scholarship to pay for all educational costs throughout college. After college, Gill went on to earn her master’s degree.

She faced a setback when she was convicted of aggravated assault against a police officer. However, she did not let that stop her from continuing her education, eventually earning a Ph.D.

Today, Gill can be seen speaking to children about using education as a tool to improve their lives. She has exposed children to college and has motivated them to strive to get there.

Chandra Gill is making history … as a powerful educator, motivational speaker and advocate for urban youth. Through Blackademically Speaking, Gill has given more than 1,000 children exposure to college, and her efforts have landed her on Chicago’s 35 Under 35 leadership list. She was also featured in the United Negro College Fund’s Evening of Stars.

What’s next for Chandra?

Gill continues to speak to children nationally and internationally. She uses her book, Champions Break Chains, as a guide for achieving success when it seems impossible to do so.

In her own words …

“I’m there to say, ‘You can do whatever you put your mind to, irrespective of what you’re going through, irrespective of what you’re born in,” she said to NBC in a profile about her life. “I get emotional thinking about just how little our children need: just a little encouragement.”

A little-known fact about college students

The percentage of black students enrolled in college has increased from 9 to 14 percent in the past 30 years, while the percentage of white students enrolled in college has decreased, from 83 to 62 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

For more information click here

Q: What’s next in this chapter of your life?

A: This next chapter is all about becoming a world-class CEO for our world-class youth. Blackademically Speaking in just one year has reached thousands upon thousands. My goal is to reach millions upon millions. As a Bill Gates Scholar, motivational speaker and Ph.D. I have had great success in motivating youth throughout the world. I established this company to enhance my existing message of motivation and education. Because of the conditions many of our children live in, we believe that today’s schooling and education must include elements of motivation. I hope to grow the company by offering culturally relevant academic products, innovative philosophies and cutting edge theories regarding educational success.

Q: What’s a fact about you that many people don’t know?

A: This is twofold:
a.) I was diagnosed epileptic at the age of 13 years old. Taking six pills a day throughout my entire adolescent and young adult life was definitely no fun.
b.) This year marks my 8th year in being Vegan.
These two facts are presented together because I really believe changing my diet and lifestyle largely contributed to a changed health report. I haven’t had a seizure in nearly ten years and I no longer take medication.

Q: What’s your favorite quote?

A: Now this is always interesting for me, as I disseminate quotes often per my speeches, etc. I created Blackademically Blurt-Outs as quotes for those desiring motivation. So the favorite of today is:
Blackademically Blurt-Out:
a.) Few things will just come to you—-YOU have to Go & Get It!
b.) If YOU don’t Go & Get It—few things will come to YOU!

Q: Where do you get your inspiration?

A: This actually varies as I am inspired daily in a multitude of ways. Ranging from my parents, to my ancestry, our youth, my friendships, to God, I remain grateful for all of what inspires me. I feel blessed to have inspiration as a cornerstone of what I need and an element of what I aim to provide to others. I must say though, that I give my parents the credit for whom I have become; their sacrifices and hard work inspires me. I give God the glory for who I am; His unchanging power encourages me.

Q: Who are/were your mentors?

A: I’d actually have to say that my mom serves as a guiding light for me everyday, particularly in this season for me as CEO of Blackademically Speaking. She’s President of her own janitorial company and has weathered those “being in business storms.” Her strength and wisdom mentors me both directly and indirectly.

Q: What advice would you give to anyone who wants to achieve their dreams?

A: It takes courage to leave behind that of what makes you most comfortable, yet proving to be most detrimental. The epitome of our growth is oft times found in our strength to quash what impedes our growth in the first place. Jobs, people, bad relationships, etc… all have the potential to keep us stagnant. We must learn the art of letting go!! Truth is this: Realizing any dream starts with realizing the distinction between dreams and destiny. I believe dreams are mere snapshots of what your destiny ‘looks’ like. Choosing to live for your destiny will motivate you to make every dream a reality.

Bonus-Blackademically Blurt-Out

Stop trying to take people where God is telling YOU to go..
a.) Perhaps (just maybe) they’re not supposed to go with you.
b.) Perhaps its why you haven’t gone yet either!