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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Conspiracy Theory or Truth? One Reason Why UF's Black Recruitment Efforts are Not Made a Priority

I've been following Jeff Schweers' Gainesville Sun series on declining Black enrollment at UF. I wrote my initial blog post about it here. The post included how attending UF changed my life forever and 3 things we can do TODAY to help maintain a strong legacy of Black and Afro-Latino achievement and excellence at UF and throughout the Gator Nation.

Additionally, I have been speaking with a few former student leaders and ABA members about their perspective on the situation and how alumni might support increased recruitment and retention efforts.

A friend mentioned that one possible reason for the somewhat lack of interest in stepping up recruitment efforts might be because Black alumni are presumed to not give back financially, in a large way, thus less of a priority. This had been a topic of discussion several years ago while this friend was attending UF's Levin College of Law.

Coincidentally, on March 7, Jeff published another article about Gale V. King's $1M donation UF's College of Journalism and Communications. The fund is expected to generate about $35,000 to $40,000 a year that will go directly to scholarships and programs, according to Diane McFarlin, dean of the journalism school.

Gale V. King is the executive vice president and chief administrative officer for Nationwide Mutual Insurance in Columbus, Ohio, grew up in Gainesville and went on to great corporate success.

Does Gale's donation negate the conspiracy theory (or truth) that Black alumni do not give back in a large way, thus are less of a priority? How could we use this narrative to reiterate to the new administration how important, and mutually beneficial, Black student recruitment efforts are to the Gator Nation?

Monday, March 2, 2015

URGENT: Get involved w/ your University of Florida - Alumni Association NOW - Here's why.

If you're anything like me, you realize that attending and matriculating from the University of Florida was one, if not the, best decision of your life.  There are so many things that can be said about the doors, hearts and minds that have been opened by the opportunity. Gators will understand this wholly. No further explanation necessary.

I have encouraged all of my younger mentees to attend a university away from home, particularly UF, if their credentials support attendance.  Living and studying in a small, rural town is well-worth the sacrifice to attend a world-class institution such as UF.  UF is a tough school to get into now-a-days, but not just because of its ever-increasing "Ivy League of the south" status, but sadly because of the decline in commitment to minority recruiting.

Have you been keeping up with the news about the drastic decline in black enrollment at UF? If not, read more about the issue here:
Both articles were written by Gainesville Sun staff writer, Jeff Schweers. He can be reached by phone: 352-338-3176 and e-mail:

MORE FROM THE ARTICLES: “Falling black enrollment is not unique to UF,” Glover said. “Other State University System universities have experienced similar declines.” UF's black undergraduate enrollment fell by 876 students between 2010 and 2014, or by 28 percent. 

Florida State University, the University of South Florida and Florida A&M also saw decreases in black student enrollment, but not to the same degree as UF. The state's eight other universities either maintained their enrollment numbers and percentages or saw an increase in both.

The University of Central Florida saw an INCREASE of 1,000 students — a 19 percent growth rate in its black undergraduate population. Black students grew from 10 percent to 11 percent of the undergraduate population.

“The recruitment and marketing environment has gotten tougher, no question about that,” said Gordon Chavis, UCF's associate vice president for Undergraduate Admissions, Student Financial Assistance and Student Outreach programs. UCF has an AGGRESSIVE COMMITMENT to minority recruiting, established by John Hitt when he became president in 1992.

Here's what you can do TODAY:

If you feel that UF has changed your life for the better and are interested in maintaining a strong legacy of Black and Afro-Latino achievement and excellence at UF and throughout the GATOR NATION, now is the time to get involved with your University of Florida Alumni Association:

  1. JOIN the UF Alumni Association. Membership starts at $40. Money talks, B.S. walks. We know this. You most show some level of financial commitment to be taken seriously.
  2. CONNECT with your local UF Alumni Association. Send your local chapter president a note telling him/her that you are concerned with the decline in Black enrollment and that you are poised to help in anyway needed. Also, Save the Date for Destination ABA, the UF Association of Black Alumni's first multi-city alumni experience taking place on Saturday, April 18, 2015 in Atlanta, South Florida, Tampa and Washington, D.C. Be vocal about your thoughts when you attend. ALL are invited.
  3. SHARE your reflections with new UF president, Dr. Kent Fuchs. President Fuchs is currently on a multi-city Listening Tour to meet with alumni, friends, media and leaders in Florida's major cities and selected cities nationwide. With stops in Orlando, Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa and other cities beginning this spring, he will gather ideas and thoughts about how to shape UF's next era. Attend AND speak up when he is in your city or email him today. 
NOTE: UF recently hired a new Director of Admissions. Now's the time to re-evaluate the recruiting practices and get the buy-in of the new President and new Admissions Director.

We, the black alumni, supporters and friends, are here to help. We know what currently works and what can be tweaked in regards to minority recruiting. Let's open a dialog and get this challenge rectified. Step one, let our voices and concern be heard. Step two, meet with the new leadership at UF.


Comment below and let me know your thoughts. I am in contact with the UF ABA National President and will relay your thoughts directly to her.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

#BookReview: 7 Traits of Highly Successful Women on Boards + #HeForShe Solidarity Action Kit

I received this book, 7 Traits of Highly Successful Women on Boards, at the Google UK Black History Month event a few months ago. The book was gifted to the audience by Dr. Thompson herself.

I ended up keeping the book in my work bag and reading it on my daily commute. It felt like an inspiring book to read as I got on with my daily grind.

The point in the book that resonated with me the most was the use of a performance coach, a career coach or an executive coach as mentioned by several of the high-ranking women interviewed in the Overviews on Education section of the book. I will add the career coach option to my career arsenal moving forward. I think it is an excellent strategy for continuous professional development and one that had not been on my radar in the past.

Sometimes when you read professional development or self-help books, it feels like endless prose regurgitating ideas that are intuitive or so basic you wonder who exactly the audience might be. I was happy to find this career coach nugget within the pages of this work and details on why the women chose to work with one.  

An additional point that comes up in the book, that I do agree with, is that male counterparts are often times more of an advocate to women professionals, more so than other women in the workforce. I'd be interested to read more about how we might disrupt that dynamic, so that women can see other women as allies and supporters as opposed to competitors.

If you are interested in learning more about Dr. Yvonne Thompson CBE and her work click here.

If you are interested in learning more about #HeForShe, a solidarity movement for gender equality that brings together one half of humanity (men) in support of the other half of humanity (women) for the benefit of all, click here.

Download the #HeForShe Action Kit here.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

#LifestyleVlog | Things Are Heating Up!

Here we are gracing Cafeina Wynwood Lounge, Joey's Italian Cafe, Brew House Wynwood Brewing Company and Grand Central in the Magic City, Miami, Wynwood, 305 baby! Yes, it's really this fun and 75 degrees fahrenheit in the winter. *drops mic*

 Music by: "Bounce House" by Silent Partner

[Video embedded below. Can't see it? Click here:]

#LifestyleVlog | Pretty Women Wassup?

3 random days in Miami with yours truly. Come with and see what all the hype is about.

[Video embedded below. Can't see it? Click here:]

Sunday, January 25, 2015

#TravelDiaries: Back on the Miami Scene

She's backkkkk! I'm back in south Florida for a bit. Come with me on my first coffee date back in the Magic City

[Video embedded below. Can't see it? Click here:]

#TravelDiaries: Her first time in London

My mom's in London for my MBA graduation. Here I am touring her around the city. She loved it and now understands why I'm in love with the city.


[Video embedded below. If you are unable to see it, click here:]

The Expat Paradox


A few months after moving to London I read an article describing a paradoxical situation that befalls many expats, where their new country fails in comparison to home, yet home no longer fits snugly.

I knew instinctively I would befall a similar fate.

Living in London exposed me to an alternate reality. A reality that I fell in love with.

Yet I am afraid to stay. And afraid to return home.

Afraid to stay in London and be so very far away from my home... my family, my friends, life's familiarity. Hyper aware that I may lose the attention of the ones I love the most -- the ones who love me the most  -- sacrificed for the unfamiliar, yet alluring, love and attention of the unknown.

Afraid to return home to the same ordinary life I sought to shake loose. Afraid to fall back into the same grind, facing the same demons, as if the last year was just a fleeting day dream flickering off into the distance. 

How will I continue to use this experience to elevate my life if it led me right back to where I started? 

How do I face the possibility that I may fall short of the "elevated life" I seek?

The audience speaks: No guts, no glory.. You'll be fine.. You'll work it out, you always do.

As if through some miraculous alignment of the stars an aspirational life is possible without the sweat and vision required to align them.

Perhaps at this point I should acknowledge the Pygmalion effect on my life. Perhaps I should be thankful for the accountability that has brought to life this abstract form.

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

None the less, full disclosure: I realize the luxury of my anxiety, which to be clear, is a fleeting day dream flickering off into the distance. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Your MBA International Management Graduate from Royal Holloway, University of London

Here I am pictured with Principal Paul Layzell after being awarded for Best Dissertation #MBA #RHUL 2014

On Tuesday, 16 December 2014, I accomplished a major item on my bucket list. I strolled across the commencement stage, chin up and chest high, at Royal Holloway, University of London as Principal Paul Layzell handed me a symbolic diploma certifying that I am a Master of Business Administration.

The sense of relief I felt was uncanny. A sense of calm, certainty, peace... and pride. I am happy to acknowledge my true emotions without feeling bashful about them.

For the past few years I have been striving and strategizing on how I might take my life from the comfortable to the extraordinary. I decided that studying and living in London and travelling Europe would be my ticket.

To be clear, I was not running from anything at home. I lived a very comfortable and privileged life, but I wanted to stretch myself. I wanted to push the boundaries and see how far life would take me without the constraints of fear and self-doubt.

It is a bit of a drug, accomplishment is.  Addicting. Once you figure out the formula, it's hard not to want more and more of it. Fear then becomes an element that you face, but mainly disregard in future pursuits, as the high of accomplishment far trumps the depression of fear.

You're habitually seeking the next fix. Searching for the next hurdle to leap over, all the better if you can make it look easy. At times restless and antsy... haunted they might say.

But for this one, this MBA... I felt a sense of peace. I lavished in it a bit for the first time. I enjoyed the win, soaked it in. I don't take this one lightly. This one has been quite good.

For those interested in my MBA dissertation, here it is for your perusal. The work won best MBA dissertation of the graduating class. 

Kell x

Thursday, December 4, 2014

[VIDEO] Are You Happy? #MotivationalMonday

Here's another video from my Motivational Monday series.

In pursuit of the perfect EVERYTHING, do you remember the last time you were genuinely happy? Here's how to recognize happiness as an adult and grasp at it whenever it appears.

Press play:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

On Being an American Working in the UK

"That's the problem with you coloreds. You're always focused on the treatment you expect to get, instead of the treatment that you're getting." - Line from Dorothy Dandridge (1999)

Everytime I step foot into a new classroom or place of work there is that flutter of apprehension at the pit of my tummy -- one-third nerves, one-third adrenaline, one-third exhilaration.

You never really know how you're going to be received by the new lot of people. First you worry about the women. Will they be kind, welcoming and warm or will they feel threatened, question your intentions and resent you silently?

And then there are the men. Will they respect you and see your value or will they think of you as a cute face, here to make things pretty, and then overspeak you in every meeting.

I would expect to experience this in every new workplace situation. That has been my truth. Understandable after all, we are all human and judgemental by nature. You do have to prove yourself in each new instance, so I really wouldn't expect to feel any differently.

However, I must say, it is a bit more burdensome to face this new office hazing as -- a smart woman, a beautiful woman, a charismatic woman, a black woman -- in a world where you are used to being classified as a minority and continually gauged against generalizations based on age, race and sex.

Gifts from my UK team on my last day of work

What surprised me about working on my particular team, in my particular office in the UK, was that the burden I usually felt, the burden to prove myself and fit in, felt slightly lighter.

Even though I was the only American woman on a team of young, British men, there was less of a hurdle there, less of a disconnect between me and the guys on the team that I, and I alone, would usually be forced to bridge if I were working in the US.

They spoke to me genuinely, no forced small talk, and connected with me as if we were cut from the same cloth. They laughed at my jokes and I at theirs. We related with one another easily. I felt a part of a team much sooner and deeper than I had ever felt in any other place of work.

They invited me out for lunch and drinks, more than once. And not that awkward obligatory invite extended to the new person (that you secretly hope they will decline). They seemed to genuinely like my company and showed sincere interest in conversation with me.

I didn't feel like an outsider shrinking myself to help others feel more comfortable around me. I shone as bright as I wanted to and the guys didn't seem to mind one bit, they related to me just the same.

The women in the office, were slightly different. Most were kind and inquisitive at first, but warmed up to me and showed me sincerity or pulled away from me and became more cold as time passed and as they saw more and more of me.

I had limited exposure to most of the women in the office, as my team was comprised solely of men. Most women were kind in passing, but there are always one or two who try to show you that they are the alpha female (even if it's only in their mind).

The young, and young-at-heart women in the office were the kindest to me. No surprise there. It felt similar to how it is in the States. My relationship with women in an office setting is always a bit more complicated than I'd hope for.

All in all, I was highly attentive to how I was being received and perceived in the UK office setting. I was keen to take notice of the nuanced differences between an American and a British corporate place of work, for a woman like myself.

I felt at home with my co-workers in the UK office faster than I have ever felt at home in any of the American offices where I've worked.

Maybe my year studying and exploring abroad has changed me. Maybe I'm more humble and less defensive in demeanor. Maybe the treatment that I expected to receive was more positive than before I left my home country.

Maybe that's why reception was a bit different.

Or maybe that soreness that still exists between the assimilating cultures in the US is ever more evident when you are working in a place where that lingering angst ceases to exist.

Here's a recent vlog on a day-in-the-life working in the UK. Press play. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Truth About International MBAs and the Tough Time Finding Jobs In UK

International MBA students in London

When I initially decided to come over to the UK to study for my MBA, I had no intention of staying longer than the year. But as I approached the middle and end of the program, I realized that I desired more time in the UK. Time to work and really plant my feet into the culture. Time to live and socialize with true Brits, as opposed to the various international students that occupied many of the seats on my course. 

I wanted to leave England with a truer understanding of what it was to live, work and play in Europe, as opposed to leaving with a majorly academic perspective on European life.

If I was going to extend my stay, I would have to find full-time employment to finance my adventure. I wasn't naive enough to think that it would be a breeze. I knew I was a bit out of my element, being in a new country and all. However, I did think that several years of industry-specific professional experience, stellar networking and interviewing skills, an early start on the hunt, confidence and a decent MBA would ease the process a bit. 

The truth: International MBA students who want to work in the UK will have a hard time finding an employer to sponsor their work visa -- a mandatory requirement to remain in the country. The 2012 changes to the UK’s immigration laws mean that obtaining the right to stay and work long-term is a much more difficult process -- and from my personal experience, a near impossibility. 

Prior to April 2013, non-EEA graduates who had studied in the UK had the opportunity to stay in the country and seek work for two additional years after completing their studies. Now, most grads only have four months. 

This article explains the arduous plight of the International MBA student: Why International MBAs May Have A Tough Time Finding Jobs In UK

International MBA students in Egham

The Good: I am currently working in the UK and loving every minute of it. I was fortunate enough to be assigned an amazingly helpful and supportive mentor and professional coach who worked hard to ensure that I could gain international work experience with his firm in Ascot. He also helped me to refine my dissertation topic to better position myself as a marketing and branding risk management expert. I ended up with an excellent mark for my final piece of coursework as an MBA, more marketing management experience at a global firm, and an international professional network. 

The Bad: I almost lost the opportunity to work with my mentor because the academic process at my university is not tailored to support international students who are at a professional level in their career. The slow process of delivering final marks to support a working visa application comes at a detrimental opportunity cost for those looking to submit for jobs in the UK immediately after finishing the course (imperative since you only have four months to intern/ work and beat the pavement for a job).

Additionally, while on campus career advisors may talk a good game with the best of intentions, they often lack the resources to help during the initial stages of the job hunt. They can only do so much, particularly when dealing with students who have several years of work experience and are not seeking entry-level positions, but seeking the strong relationships with employers who are open to hiring non-EEA international talent.   

The Ugly: Here's what I mean when I say the academic process is not tailored to support international students -- my particular uni would not ratify final marks and confirm successful completion of the MBA course until mid-November, two and a half months after we turned in our final piece of coursework (submitted in September). Since international students only have four months to work after completing the course (most student visas expire in January), this is a huge hurdle, as most employers will not employ you unless you can confirm that you have passed your course, even if you are still eligible to work in the country until January on a valid student visa. 

If your grades are not released until mid-November and you must leave the country in mid-January, that leaves you with a negligible amount of time to work and get your foot in the door to source a firm that may sponsor your working visa to stay long-term. There is a HUGE disconnect between what the academic community choices to do and what is beneficial to the careers and livelihood of international students studying and wishing to go on and contribute to society in the UK. Note, this is just one instance where there is a world of disconnect. 

In my personal circumstance, my mentor did backflips to work things out for me. I am blessed to have someone like him on my team. 

Final thoughts: I do not regret the decision to study in the UK. I have made some amazing connections and equally amazing memories. My life has been forever changed and I am fulfilled and at peace with this experience. My CV receives an amazing employer response in my industry and my international appeal is evident, though hindered in the UK by this visa hurdle.

It is important, however, for anyone considering a decision of this magnitude to fully understand the implications and repercussions. I wouldn't over think it. I would still make the decision to study abroad, if so inclined. To me, life is not about over analyzing. It's about sensing what your intuition is leading you toward and acting on that feeling, though you will be blind to the full repercussions of the decision. For me, in this situation, 80% turned out the way I wanted it; the way I worked for it to turn out. Here, I share the hardships of that remaining 20%. Pareto principle. 

While I understand the importance of border control and immigration laws and I respect the laws of the land, I'll close this post with the comment below, left on the article linked above, which mirrors my sentiment on the issue:

 "While agreeing with most of the comments made in the article about how difficult it is for international students to get a job offer in the UK, the fact also remains that MBA schools haven't done their bit. All the promises of cv specialists and career guidance come to a nought when there are simply no employers willing to recruit if you dont have a valid visa. Sad to see that even after huge drops in international students coming into UK to study, the education industry is not able to rustle up its might and represent to the government the need to end the repressive visa regime." -Jaygopal Raghavan

Now those are some strong words from Jaygopal, but I've never been one to shy away from the truth.

[What's next after Tier 4 Student Visa?]

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Featured in The Orbital's Beauties of Holloway #RHUL


Back in the spring of this year I was invited to shoot for Beauties of Holloway. Beauties of Holloway is a special insert to The Orbital, the official magazine of Royal Holloway. The insert was designed to highlight the diversity of beauty and culture on campus. 

These photos were taken on the footbridge at the main entrance to Royal Holloway, University of London. In the background you find the Clock Tower and the north facade of the Founder's Building.

Special thanks to SURHUL BME director Violet Bordoli for having me and to Yang Qiu for his epic photography skills. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

#PRESSPLAY Epic Weekend | Miami Dolphins @ Wembley Stadium + Lauryn Hill @ Brooklyn Bowl London

Epic weekend. The Dolphins slaughtered the Raiders and Lauren Hill slaughtered the stage. Come watch.











Wednesday, October 8, 2014


"Ohh, so she can cook too? Ooo, I hate her!"  -- *twirls*

Dinner party vibes.. oh and, after the party it's the after party ;)

Intro and outro music by: Blank & Kytt










Video embedded below, click HERE if you can't see it.


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