November 3, 2020

We’re Here Campaign Feature: Michelle Gavel

The mission of the We’re Here Project is to empower and amplify the voices of young Black women in our community. In Southwest Missouri, there are still strides to be made with representation, diversity, and equity and the goal of this project is to raise the visibility of young Black women who wish to be a part of that conversation. Each woman selected for the project gets to share her story and perspective on beauty and strength as a Black woman in the Southwest Missouri area. This is Michelle’s interview:

Beauty is an outward projection of your soul. What’s in your heart comes out in how you carry yourself and how you present yourself to the world.
 

I am the Scholarship Coordinator for the Office of Student Financial Aid at Missouri State University.
 

I earned a track and field scholarship to then Southwest Missouri State University. I came from Chicago.
 

I ran for School Board in 2016 and my husband and I created a website that highlights Black Owned Businesses is Springfield.
 

It’s rough. I’m a tall black woman, with natural hair and people notice when I walk into a room. I used to pay attention to the stares, but now I barely see them. I once had an older white woman ask my co-worker if the company hired just anyone off the street after I interacted with her. Despite how professional or well-spoken you are, you will have people who think you don’t belong or just got the job to fill a quota.
 

I surround myself with other black women, close friends, and my family. I’ve started reading for pleasure again and have a book club with some awesome black women. During times like these, surrounding yourself with people who get it and won’t invalidate your feelings and experiences is important.
 

I want to be known for spreading light. My faith and culture are very important to me and I try to show God’s love with every interaction, no matter who you are.

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