Precious Perkins, 14

“My grandma, Vanessa Gibbs, influenced me the most because she helped during the Vietnam War. And she has inspired me to follow my dreams to be a model. I’m also interested in learning accounting at my school, John Cook. I did model once when I was in fifth grade and I liked it very much.”

Crystal Palmer-White

“The woman who influenced me is Patricia Cox-Bey when I was around 13 years old in the YMCA; that had a lot of influence on my life. She taught us how to be ladies, how to dress, how to take care of our hygiene and all those things-that had a lot to do with being the person I am today. The woman I admire would be my mother. She is deceased now but my mother took care of all the kids in the community. She was very active in the community, especially with the youth. This is probably why I am a community activist today.”

Billie McShane

“My grandmother. She passed away when I was young, but she was always there taking care of us. You knew that she was going to fight for her grandchildren and everything she believed in, which is what she instilled in us. The woman I admire is definitely Billie Holiday. My grandmother was a huge Billie Holiday fan. Shockingly, that is not where my name came from. But my grandmother played Billie Holiday records all the time. How she was so strong and overcame so many obstacles-even with her addiction-she still overcame it.”

Nyomi Jones, 10

“My grandmother, A.J. because she is the person I would like to be like. I would like to open my own store, sell clothes and to make clothes. I’ve made pictures with a machine my mother bought me; and you can use it to design clothes. My mother said one day I will get a sewing machine so I can start sewing, and I can give what I made to my grandmother so she can sell them.”

Willie Dean Jones

“The person that influenced me was a coach I had in Tunica, Miss.; she encouraged me to play basketball at that time. She was always so supportive; she would say ‘dribble that ball Dean-you can do it.’ One of the women I admire is Maya Angelou, because she has some good poems with great messages; and I like hearing her when she reads her poems.”

Crystal Thomas
(with grandmother, josephine thomas)

“Recently, a woman who has influenced me has been my business partner, her name is Allison Boss. She has been very instrumental, supportive and teaching me how to go for things, whether we think it will work out or not-just to kind of step out there. We have an event planning business called Event Etcetera. We launched last year and we’ve seen a lot of great growth and progress. I admire my grandmother (Josephine Thomas). She has been the matriarch of our family and the glue that kept us together.”