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Meet Our 2019 Cohort of Fellows: Stephanie Myles

Harvard Business School

If I had to describe myself succinctly, I guess my headline would be the following: Black.Gay.Woman.Lifelong Learner. I'm originally from North Memphis, TN but I've been in the DC area for about 7 years. I grew up in a really rough neighborhood and I saw my family and community struggle, especially the adults around me who didn't have the chance to finish high school or go to college. I learned pretty early in life the importance, value and power of education. The hardships and daily struggles we lived through pushed me to not only empower myself, but also to do the same for the people around me. And so, I decided to break the status quo and pursue a college degree. I went to The University of Memphis and majored in International Business. I wanted to understand the business world and global markets and eventually bring that back to my neighborhood.

After a series of challenges, I was fortunate to land my job at the U.S. Postal Service Headquarters in Washington, DC. I started as a management intern in Global Business and worked my way through different positions in the organization and today I'm an International Operations Specialist. My role is to analyze the service performance of our global Express Mail Service product (EMS) that we exchange with over 190 countries and identify operational issues and areas for improvement.

What made you consider business school?

My end goal is to create jobs in disenfranchised neighborhoods like the one that I come from, and to do this, I want to become an entrepreneur so that I can have a direct positive impact in creating opportunities for those who need them the most. However, I first need to cultivate a holistic mindset and practice making business decisions at a higher level and to do so, I need to go through business school as a critical pathway to my success.

What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?

I realize that attending business school is an incredible opportunity and I'm most excited to use this platform to advocate for LGBTQIA+ issues and to make the most use of our entrepreneurship resources. I want to take on a leadership role in our Pride Club and organize LGBTQ-focused webinars, student panels, networking mixers, and community service events, and use these platforms to amplify and address community issues such as coping with depression, the attack on transgender rights, and access to adequate healthcare. On the academic side, I'm excited to thoroughly understand, explore, and utilize the principles of entrepreneurship that will enable me to make a pivotal career change and form my own company. My hope is to make a positive contribution that enriches the social fabric of my community and emerge from my experience re-branded as a transformative global leader.

Who are some leaders (in the LGBT community, in business, or in society) that most inspire you?

There are so many! I find individuals who possess a unique type of bravery and courage to challenge the status quo decades before our collective society is ready for it to be completely awe-inspiring. Immediately, I think of transgender rights activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera who spearheaded the gay liberation movement and continued to advocate for trans-visibility even when faced with adversity from their cis-counterparts. Even today, I am inspired by people of my generation who unapologetically push the front lines and reshape current ideologies – people such as Indya Moore (they play the character "Angel" on FX's Pose) and Chase Strangio. In my local community, SaVanna Wanzer is a hero of mine, as she does so much incredible work to organize and amplify the month of May as a celebration of the Transgender and Non-Binary Communities of the DC area. Pivoting to my authors, James Baldwin and Chris Hedges have completely different writing styles but are both phenomenally elegant in holding up a raw mirror and addressing the ills that affect our society. I have to recognize Anthony Bourdain as an author and "the people's chef" who inspired me by letting us experience cultures vicariously through his travels. And of course, I'm inspired by Tim Berners-Lee, the guy who invented the World Wide Web, because if it wasn't for him, I'd have a markedly more difficult time learning about any of my other heroes!

What's one thing everyone should know about you?

Don't let the southern accent fool you; I know how to BBQ too! In all seriousness, I take my commitment to making a positive social impact to heart and I am determined to fulfill my life's work with a resolute passion.