Today I celebrate the birthday of one of my closest friends, Cleo Bianca. I met her during my time at Oakwood University on the steps of Moran Hall, where I was desperately in need of a reminder of home. A native of the U.S. Virgin Islands, her staccato yet seamless accent was comforting for me, a Caymanian girl. It was then that our now-transatlantic friendship truly began.
One of my biggest professional challenges is knowing how to stay focused when my heart is not in it. Cleo’s ability to power through it with the end of mind is one of the good gifts that I covet most, and have since tried very hard to emulate.
She taught me that in order to do what you love, sometimes you just have to do what needs to be done.
As a professional communicator, I have perfected the art of using spin to downgrade the magnitude of a situation. However, Cleo, a communicator herself, debunks my deflective banter and offers me true, practical insight into those aspects of my life I like to keep a pretty filter on. This also has strengthened me, because, in my career, I have learned that placing a veneer over a crisis is just an invitation for further scrutiny and reduced credibility.
Her ability to still function as a professional while being a pseudo-matriarch to her large family, an aspiring entrepreneur, a dedicated partner to her boyfriend, Kem (“big up deh man”) is something persons well beyond her years have yet to master. Having multiple responsibilities and obligations are some of the reasons women are said to progress more slowly in the workplace. It is women like Cleo that shatter glass ceilings while leaving behind a ladder for those to come behind her and shatter even more.