November 2, 2020

We’re Here Campaign Feature: Tylar Grant

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 Tylar’s interview:

My definition of beauty is determined by the way you treat others and the type of impact it leaves on them. Beauty can be found in the way your dress, but it also presents itself through meaningful actions, good conversation, and wholesome character. When you are able to set aside your needs and help others when they are in need, that is a beautiful act. When you are able to engage in genuine conversation, listen, and share feed back, beauty can be found in the advice that is given. When you practice being an outstanding human being by caring for others, treating them well and putting your best foot forward – beauty shines through. Beauty comes in all colors and presents itself in many ways. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, ultimately making it the beholders responsibility to find beauty in everything around them.

I have a few jobs. The first one being a Graduate Assistant at Missouri State University for Students Activities Council. While working towards my Masters in Sports Management, I work 20 hrs a week, assisting the programming director in planning engaging events for students on campus. The events thrown are to inform, entertain and bring the campus community together. When I’m not working at the University, you can find me teaching Hip-Hop Step Aerobic classes at the Studio by Jamie Kinkade! The Studio is a very prominent business in town and has been voted “Best fitness Studio” in SGF by 417 Magazine 7 years in a row. One to two times a week, i host a fitness class that welcomes men and women. In my class we use a step aerobic to incorporate cardio, toning and dance in an 1 hr session. Along with teaching I open the gym at 5am 3x a week, help with retail, organize pop-up shops collaborating with other Yoga studios in town, and plan fitness events at Missouri State for MSU Students! This year marks the second year that I’ve started my “Training’s by T” volleyball program! I have volleyball experience from playing in college, coaching competitive travel ball, and Head coaching the 7th grade team at Pipkin Middle School here in town. I currently coach independently offering 1 hr personal volleyball training to girls in Springfield and the surrounding area. To this day, I’ve hosted over 90+ personal training’s. I’ve trained 15 different athletes, ranging from 5th grade to Senior in high school. My athletes attend the following schools, Park view, Central, Pipkin, Cherokee, Nixa, Marrionville, and SGF Catholic. I plan to continue coaching competitively when volleyball starts season starts again this year. The last thing you will find me doing, on the weekends is serving at Downing Street Pour house – A new locally owned fine dining restaurant located off of Battlefield. This restaurant is a branch off of the original, located in Hollister, Mo and serves delicious British comfort food. We are known for our 24 beers on draft, burgers, steak and pub plates! We opened just last week!

Nothing specifically bought me to Springfield, Mo because I was born and raised here! I am a proud native. After graduating from Stephens College in Columbia, Mo, I decided I wanted to further my education. I was familiar with the town, my mom is an alumni and I admired the University, so what brought me back to Springfield was getting accepted into graduate school.

I would like to be involved in the community more! I currently participate in events thrown by my Church, North Point. These events involve fundraising, programming and bringing the community together. Before the pandemic, I was interning with a Young, Black Professional group called ELEVATE. This group was formed to bring together young black women in Springfield to encourage networking, friendship, advice and more. My responsibility was to help plan the annual brunch. The brunch provided a space for women to come eat, network, and learn more about other professional black women in town and the opportunities available. I contributed by raising sponsorship money from other female owned, minority businesses in town. Unfortunately the event was cancelled. While working at Missouri Trust & Investment Company last year, I was in charge of organizing our CSR events to help build our reputation in the community. While working there I organized fundraisers and raised funds/supplies for Harmony House, The Kitchen, Convoy of Hope, CASA, Funds2Orgs and organized our company to adopt a family of a single mother and 3 boys for Christmas.

My experience being a black woman in Southwest Missouri has not been the worst. Being a native, I’ve really enjoyed my time in Springfield. I found the SPS system to be very supportive, although I wish they presented more information about African American history, and Colleges that are out there for us. I had no idea what an HBCU was until I had already been accepted into a PWI. At times I feel I was cheated because of the lack of information that was presented for my people when it comes to college and the specific opportunities out there for people like me. While working as a young professional in town, I’ve noticed while going to Springfield Chamber of commerce events and other luncheons, there is a huge lack of diversity. It would be nice for the Chamber, The Network, Springfield Creatives, and other networking hubs to find ways to incorporate and feature our communities businesses more. Also having a Young black professionals network for women in town would be very beneficial to young women who are upcoming and women like me who came back home to work professionally and was in need of a black community of professionals.

With the current climate of things, to take care of my self. I have really been investing in a lot of personal fitness. Working out helps support my body. mind and soul. Increasing my workouts has really helped keep away depression and anxiety! I have also been taking the time to eat and cook healthier. I’ve been researching a lot of food substitutions and learning lots of new keto recipes. Along with working out and dieting, I have also been engaging in several self -improvement and self care videos. These videos have been helping me learn more about myself and how to navigate certain situations better.

If anything, I want to be known as a go getter! I am a GOAL digger! When i want to do something, I don’t like to take no for an answer. I believe anyone can do anything they set their mind too. I want to be able to show other young black women like me, that they don’t have to be a statistic. I want to be known for breaking the statistic and bringing Beauty and Brains back in style. The media has distorted the minds of young women, forcing them to think the only thing that sells is sex, but that’s not true! It’s important to show that there is a space for women with drive, goals, focus and passion too and that space can be filled with someone like them.

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