TRUE STORIES FROM 14 YOUNG PROFESSIONALS
AUTHORS OF EMPOWER NOW
Empower Now tells the true stories of 14 young minority Black professionals and their journeys to success. Through both obstacles and victories, they were able to fulfill their dreams.
In their stories you will find helpful tips, inspiring quotes, and life lessons coming from individuals in various fields including Medicine, Education, Engineering, and Dentistry. Just like they are fulfilling their dreams, you can too! It’s time for you to be empowered now!
DR. AMBER ROBINS
Family Medicine Resident Physician
Dr. Amber Robins is the creator of the Empower Now movement. She is passionate about individuals telling their stories to help others on their journey to success. She attended Xavier University of Louisiana and graduated Magna Cum Laude as a Biology major and Chemistry minor. During her senior year of college she was elected Miss Xavier University of Louisiana 2009–2010. Dr. Robins is graduate and currently a Family Medicine resident at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.
Dr. Robins is the author of “The Write Prescription: Finding the ‘Right’ Spiritual Dosage to Overcome Any Obstacle” available on Amazon. She has worked for ABC News Medical Unit and wrote several articles, one which featured her experience as a minority doctor called “Doctor’s Take: Being A Minority In Medicine.” She also has written for various magazines like 40z Rock Magazine and The Journal for Minority Medical Students in her own column entitled “Diary of a Medical Student.”
Dr. Robins desires to touch the world through her experiences and stories of life as a doctor and advocate for mankind.
You can find her blog and video posts on
BRANDON STROUD, MS
Doctoral Candidate and Residential Coordinator
Brandon Jamaal Stroud, a native of Fountain Inn, South Carolina, studied at the University of South Carolina Upstate where he obtained a B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies. His journey led him to the Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development at the University of Rochester where he received an M.S. in Higher Education - Student Affairs. Brandon is employed at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the Center of Residence Life as a Residential Coordinator. He serves on a research team that focuses on urban neighborhood development, civil engagement, and educational reform in the local Rochester community. This project focuses on creating general hubs in the community that offers a transformation for community and mind. He is a current doctoral student in the Human Development and Counseling program at the Warner School of Education, where his work focuses on the transformation of access to education as it relates to the history of African Americans.
DR. BRANDON PITTS, PHD
Assistant Professor, Industrial Engineering
Dr. Brandon J. Pitts is an Assistant Professor in the School of Industrial Engineering at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN. He received a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Louisiana State University (LSU) in 2010, and both a M.S.E and Ph.D. in Industrial and Operations Engineering from the University of Michigan (UM) in Ann Arbor in 2013 and 2016, respectively. His research focuses on understanding the perceptual and cognitive abilities and challenges of humans, especially older adults. In particular, he examines these factors and their implications for the design and evaluation of technologies in many data-rich, safety-critical environments, such as in aviation, driving, and medicine. Dr. Pitts is the recipient of a 2011 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF GRF) and a registered Engineer Intern (E.I.T.) with the state of Louisiana.
DR. CARLA V. CORK
Family Medicine Physician
A graduate of Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in Erie, PA, class of 2007, Dr. Cork is a board certified family medicine physician and a native of Indianapolis, IN. Dr. Cork is extremely excited about creating opportunities for the community through good health. She takes this commitment to serve to heart, and knows it is her calling to do God’s will and be a living inspiration to those she serves. Her personal motto is “compassionate health service and patient education to promote healthy lifestyles.” She takes joy in being able to educate patients on their current condition and demonstrate the proper steps to improve overall health and outlook for a healthier lifestyle.
DR. JESSICA BRUMFIELD
Family Medicine Resident Physician
Dr. Jessica Brumfield is a Family Medicine resident physician, blogger, mentor, and motivational speaker. Her medical interests include rural medicine and women’s health. She has overcome insurmountable obstacles in her life, and uses those experiences to encourage, inspire, and motivate others.
Dr. Brumfield serves as the Alternate Resident Board Director for the Georgia Academy of Family Physicians, and also a resident member of the South Georgia Medical and Research Consortium Graduate Medical Education Committee.
Dr. Brumfield is from rural Louisiana and practices in South Georgia. She graduated from medical school at the Georgia Campus of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (GA-PCOM). Prior to medical school, she received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Xavier University of Louisiana, and later a Master of Science degree from Drexel University in Philadelphia.
In her spare time, Dr. Brumfield enjoys cooking, exploring new restaurants, traveling, and playing the piano.
Learn more about Dr. Brumfield’s story and journey to inspire others at www.thedoctorjb.com.
RICKEY HARVEY, JR.
Master's of Divinity Candidate, Accountant
Rickey Harvey, Jr. was born and raised in Memphis, TN. He is a graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology with a B.S. in Accounting. During his time at RIT, he sensed a call to Christian ministry and has since directed his life towards fulfilling the call of God to serve others. He is emerging as one of Upstate New York’s premier young ministerial voices, having ministered to various groups across the width and breadth of the United States. Most well-known for his preaching ministry, he both advocates and demonstrates that failure is not fatal, and it is the courage to continue that counts in life. A second-generation Baptist minister, Rickey began his preaching ministry under the pastorate of his father, Rev. Dr. Rickey Harvey of the Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Rochester, NY. He was later licensed and ordained to ministry under the pastorate of Rev. Dr. Frederick Johnson of the First Genesis Baptist Church, where he currently serves as Minister to Youth and Young Adults.
Currently a Master of Divinity candidate at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, he has served as President of the Black Student Caucus and Baptist Student Alliance there, among other extracurricular roles that he fulfills. Within his call to Christian ministry, Rickey nurtures a passion and appreciation for music. He recently released a 4-song EP entitled “The Best I Can Be”, which includes 3 original songs and a medley of hymns that is available everywhere that music is sold digitally.
A frequent speaker to inner-city youth groups, he strives to promote spirituality, scholarship, professionalism, and community. Those who know him best note that one of the best qualities about him is his sense of humor. With that, though, comes a seriousness about achievement, self-awareness, and service to others. He affirms the words of Howard Thurman, that “There is a certain grandeur and nobility in administering to another’s need out of one’s fullness and plenty.” Serving others through his gifts and talents, Rickey Harvey, Jr. believes that the best investment anyone can make is offering others hope through help and life through love.
KEVIN WRIGHT, MS
Master's of Student of Affairs
Kevin Wright is a first-generation graduate student from Las Vegas, Nevada. He earned his master’s degree in Student Affairs Administration from Lewis & Clark College, along with his bachelor’s in Communication Studies with a minor in Sociology from Northern Arizona University. His hobbies include traveling, networking, going to concerts, and endlessly watching Netflix. Kevin aspires to become a college president so he can advocate for more affordability and accessibility for students wanting to pursue a higher education."
DR. CHINEDU NWABUOBI
Physician, Maternal Fetal Medicine Fellow
Dr. Chinedu Nwabuobi was born and raised in Nigeria. He migrated with his parents and siblings to New York City at the age of 16. Dr. Nwabuobi received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from State University of New York at Purchase. He obtained his Master of Science degree in Medical Technology from Upstate Medical University and then attended the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, where he received his Doctor of Medicine degree.
Due to his great passion for women’s health issues, he decided to pursue and complete an Obstetrics and Gynecology residency at University of Rochester Medical Center. His desire to be involved in the care of high risk pregnant patients, education and research led him to sub-specialize in Maternal Fetal Medicine at the University of South Florida. Dr. Nwabuobi believes his accomplishments would not be complete if he did not give back to the underserved and underprivileged. He co-founded Get Well Africa in 2015; a foundation that focuses on collaboration with medical experts in Africa to bring forth a much needed change in access to health education and services.
DR. JESSICA PETERKIN
Dr. Jessica Brereton Peterkin received her undergraduate degree from Bethune-Cookman University where she studied Chemistry, graduating from the honors program as a member of the Dean’s List. Upon graduation she completed her Master’s Degree in Biomedical Sciences at Midwestern University – Arizona. She then went on to receive her Doctor of Dental Medicine from Midwestern University-Illinois.
While in dental school, Dr. Peterkin participated in numerous organizations and volunteered countless hours of community service of which she earned the “Leadership Award” presented by the International College of Dentists and Proctor & Gamble. During Dental school and throughout her professional career, she has been recognized for outstanding service and speaking opportunities as a mentor for young girls and aspiring health professionals.
Currently, Dr. Peterkin practices dentistry in Surprise, AZ. She is a member of multiple professional organizations including the American Dental Association, the Arizona Dental Association, the Academy of General Dentistry as well as the National Council of Negro Women.
When not practicing dentistry, Dr. Peterkin enjoys spending time with her family, which includes her husband, son, and their puppy, Reeses. They enjoy traveling the world, exploring the outdoors, and the performing arts.
Armond Collins is currently a medical student at the University of Rochester School of Medicine. He received his B.S. in Psychology from Xavier University of Louisiana. He is dedicated to supporting his community by helping those in need. He is involved in the Student National Medical Association, homeless outreach, and middle school tutoring in Rochester. In addition to these extracurricular activities, he is a recent recipient of the Babigian Fellowship in Psychiatry, allowing him to conduct research to elucidate the effects of adolescent stress. In his free time, he enjoys creative writing, live music, and cinema.
Donielle Williams is a third-year student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry. Although a military brat, Donielle affectionately refers to the state of Georgia as her “home”. Donielle attended Xavier University of Louisiana where she graduated Magna Cum Laude as a Biology major with minors in Chemistry and Spanish. While at Xavier, Donielle was a University Merit Scholar, she made the Dean’s List eight out of eight semesters, and she was recognized in the Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges listing. She was also elected by her peers to serve as Miss Xavier University 2013-2014.
Since being in dental school, Donielle has made it her personal mission to increase diversity in dentistry. She currently serves as the President of the Student National Dental Association at UAB, an organization created to assist in the professional and personal growth of existing and aspiring underrepresented minority dental students. She has also worked with the Director of Diversity Affairs to start a “DentStay” hospitality program at UAB where minority pre-dental students are hosted by current dental students during their interview visit. In addition, Donielle has fought to increase access to care through volunteering at free dental clinics in the Birmingham area. She also traveled on an international mission trip delivering quality dental care in Choluteca, Honduras.
Donielle believes that evoking change in the community begins on a personal, individual level. She is excited to provide quality dental care to underserved populations and she looks forward to igniting lasting memories by brightening the world with confidence, one smile at a time.
MICHAEL SEABERRY, MA
Michael J. Seaberry is a poet, educator, motivational speaker, entrepreneur, and activist. He is a doctoral student at Louisiana State University with work centering on racism in education and battling racial injustices such as the school-to prison pipeline, student activism on predominately white campuses, and healing during times of racial unrest. His publications include articles in The Journal of Critical Scholarship on Higher Education and Student Affairs, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, and books chapters with Lexington Press. Michael is also the Founder/CEO of Fearless Flying, a new age motivating and educational consulting firm. He has also published his first book, “The Mississippi Crying: A Collection of Poems, Stories of Healing” which is available on Amazon.
Michael lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and can be reached at
ARIEL CELESTE JOHNSON, MA
Sr. Analyst, NBCUniversal Ad Sales Strategy & Analytics (NBC, USA, Syfy)
A proud native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana-- Ariel got her start in the media field at 16, when she began writing for her high school newspaper. Since then, she has held numerous editing, writing and media research positions. In 2012, Ariel graduated Magna Cum Laude from Xavier University of Louisiana with her degree in Mass Communications. Immediately after college, Ariel attended Penn State to pursue her Master’s Degree in Media Studies. At Penn State, Ariel’s research focus was on understanding how children’s informal media use translates to formal, academic outcomes. After successfully completing her Master’s program in 2014, Ariel moved to New York City to begin her career at Viacom Media Networks as a Coordinator on the Nickelodeon Ad Sales team. At the completion of this role, Ariel decided to re-explore her research interests by joining the Viacom Marketing & Partner Insights team. Here, she was responsible for tracking linear network performance for CMT, TVLand, Nick at Nite and Spike. After a year in that role, Ariel decided to explore the realm of digital research at NBCUniversal. She is currently a Sr. Analyst of Ad Sales Strategy & Analytics where she communicates digital insights across NBC, USA and Syfy platforms. In her free time, Ariel enjoys reading, brunching with friends and giving back to the community through her sorority,
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
DR. MELVIN (JAI) JACKSON
Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership/Higher Education
Dr. Melvin (Jai) Jackson is an Assistant Professor at Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates with various teaching appointments within the University College. He received both his Bachelor and Master degrees from Appalachian State University and his doctorate from Louisiana State University and A&M College. His research focuses on race and education, higher education in the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA), and leadership in higher education.