Myriah Smiley is a 19-year-old young woman who is a LeadersUp associate and attended our 2017 Noah’s Bagels career skills cohort training. She attends Los Angeles Trade-Technical College and is majoring in Small Business for Entrepreneurship. Her goal is to open her own bakery in San Francisco. On August 5, she will compete in the Miss Compton Pageant, an event that shines a positive light on inner-city youth. Please join us in supporting Myriah by visiting the link: bit.ly/miss-compton-myriah.
What challenges did you face growing up?
Suffering produces endurance; endurance produces character; character produces hope, and hope is something the future needs. That’s a quote I live by…on a daily basis. When I was 7 years old, I was taken from my mom’s custody, along with my younger sister and brother. Entering the foster system at a young age confused me…I lost all hope in who I was and who I was supposed to be. All I knew was that I wanted to be with my mom—someone who loved me—and who I loved. Every foster parent tried to make me feel comfortable, but I knew they weren’t my mom. I lost hope. But hey, I was young. I used to cry…late nights, hoping not to wake my sister—so that she wouldn’t wake up and ask me, “What’s wrong, sister? Why are you crying?” I didn’t have an answer. My mom hardly ever called or visited. There was a time where I thought that she forgot who we were, so I gave up and lost all hope.
Years went by, holidays passed, birthdays weren’t celebrated, and I didn’t care anymore. During the summer of 8th grade, I was placed into my 11th home. I walked in there with the same discouraging attitude I had when I walked into past foster homes. Without any hope, I failed to recognize what would be a turning point in my life. My new foster parent taught me how to love others. She showed me what family meant. She taught me the value of education, but most importantly, she taught me how to value and love myself. On the late nights where I used to cry my eyes out, she would tell me that crying would only make me sadder. She’d tell me, “Get up, be strong and show them you’re much more than where you come from.” From that point on she inspired me to be that phenomenal queen I saw in her. She is Queen Vernetta Ryan!
How did you find out about the LeadersUp training, what motivated you to attend, how does it help?
I first heard about LeadersUp through a social media post, so I decided to sign up. What motivated me to attend the training was finding a job. I received an email and went through the five-day training.
How are you using the P.O.W.E.R. skills, and how are they helping you today?
I learned so much, but also loved learning about P.O.W.E.R. skills, which was amazing! Although I already knew I possessed P.O.W.E.R. skills, the training helped me enhance them. Not only that, connecting with other people who were my age and sharing their experiences helped me move forward. I loved the environment because I was learning from others and growing at the same time. Today, I am using my P.O.W.E.R. skills on a daily basis.
What are you currently working to achieve?
I’m trying to become an entrepreneur and am using my platform as Miss Compton to help me achieve my goal. What’s keeping me focused is knowing the outcome of what’s going to happen after I achieve my goal. I want to leave a legacy behind. I have younger brothers and sisters who are looking up to me and I don’t have the space to slack off. To become an entrepreneur and open my business I need to use each of my skills: keep my perseverance, stay goal-oriented, continue my hard work ethic, build relationships, and continue to be an effective communicator.
What advice do you have for your peers who are looking for career opportunities?
A piece of advice that I have for my peers is really that no matter what circumstances you are you in, you can always enhance your knowledge and that is what is going to help you keep your vision. One key takeaway…from my training with LeadersUp was learning effective communication. Since completing the training, I’ve gained the confidence to become a better communicator and it’s something that I’m going to use wherever I go.
Tell us about your experience running for Miss Compton.
Through my candidacy as Miss Compton, I’ve had to talk to my council members and neighbors, and this experience has taught me that it’s not what you say but how you say it that is important. The pageant experience has really allowed me to demonstrate my P.O.W.E.R. skills, and it’s something that I will take with me in the long run.
What is a major career goal you look forward to achieving one day?
At the moment, I’m in the process of opening my own bakery called “SMILEY POPS” and planning on going back to school in the fall. My inspiration is to motivate others. Seeing others happy and knowing the feeling of gratitude is sometimes the only thing that matters. It touches my soul. My ultimate goal is to earn a Ph.D. Since I grew up in the foster system, I didn’t have the opportunity to choose what I wanted, but by obtaining my Ph.D., I will have the opportunity to achieve all my goals!
Hope is Something the Future Needs
In the past, I remember telling people about my dreams and life aspirations, but those very few people thought otherwise and didn’t support my ideas—but their doubt only made me want to strive twice as hard. I’m not what you think of me, I’m not what you say of me—I’m much more. I too am a phenomenal queen in the making.