Culture / Musings / News

Local Heroine

Honored. Humbled. Blessed.

Many special thanks to the non-profit organization Future Boston Alliance, which works to revolutionize Boston’s creative economy, culture, transportation and civic vitality, for recognizing me as a Local Hero!

 

Screen%20Shot%202012-08-01%20at%205_28_45%20PMLocal Heroes:

Shanice Maxwell

Writer | Editor | Digital Content Strategist

Short Bio: Shanice Maxwell is a Boston native and creative multimedia journalist, editor and digital content strategist. She’s earned a B.A. in English and Secondary Education (6-12) from Virginia State University and a M.A. in Magazine, Newspaper and Online Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, all at the age of 24.

Since childhood the art of storytelling has always been one of her many passions. Shanice can recall penning poems before graduating to short stories and plays. In school English was always an area of strength. But because it always came so naturally, she didn’t truly acknowledge her skill until many others made mention of it. In the end, a zest for writing, desire to fulfill God’s purpose for her life and dedication to motivating and encouraging others are what prompted Shanice’s pursuit of a writing career.

But writing is much more than a mere job to Shanice – it is an art form and powerful, necessary tool of communication. And while her interests as an avid newshound are many, culture, health/fitness, education and fashion to name a few, she most enjoys giving a voice to the voiceless. Unearthing people’s untold stories and the events affecting those often overlooked, ignored and marginalized in society are what bring her great joy. More importantly, Shanice hopes she’ll empower others to do what they once believed they could not. In her daily living and with every word she writes she simply aspires to inspire.

When not busy writing Shanice is actively seeking avant-garde ways to pay it forward. With an affinity for working with young people, especially from the inner-city, she uses every opportunity possible to help others actualize their potential. Shanice realizes not enough youth have had people pouring positivity and vesting genuine interest in their being as she did. Recognizing the field of education as one vital way to do this, she obtained her Professional Teaching License in English for grades 6-12 from the Commonwealth of Virginia while in college. Eventually, teaching high school English and journalism are in the plan.

Presently, Shanice is a writer at Boston’s Bay State Banner where she develops, pitches, writes weekly stories for print and digital versions of the newspaper; covers local A&E, education, fashion and health news; and provides coverage for events and programs specific to Boston’s urban youth. She is also a blogger on arts, culture and innovation for the Future Boston Alliance, big sister in the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston program and freelance writer. A proud and active member of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Shanice doesn’t desire fame or popularity but for people to look at her and what she’s accomplished and say: “If Shanice can do that so can I.”

Who has been your most influential mentor?

My grandmother and mother would be tied for first place in this category. My grandmother has always been and continues to be my mentor for the many ways in which she represents fortitude, commitment and perseverance. It was her decision to move to Boston in search of better paying jobs with my grandfather and her two children (my mom and uncle) that landed our mostly Southern family in the North. My Nana only has a high school diploma and some certifications but she made a life for herself and paved the way so that my mother and uncle could go on to attend college at a time when people of color were pushed to pursue two year colleges and trades. As a result my mom and uncle received their associate degrees but they wouldn’t let me settle for mediocrity. Today I am the first in my immediate family to have a Bachelors and Masters degree because of many sacrifices and tribulations my Nana experienced and overcame. I can remember how she would push me to get my work done, attempt to help me with complex math equations even though she had no idea what they consisted of and encourage me when I wanted to give up. My Nana has used her life’s tests and triumphs to model before me a life that is rewarding and rich without the typical material goods and wealth that we tend to attribute success to in today’s era. She’s a kind, genuine, generous warm-hearted and spirited woman. Her old school teachings always keep me on track and I’m thankful for her spiritual and worldly wisdom — they have guided me these past 25 years and will forever remain deeply embedded in my mind and heart.

Now my mother, Teresa, is a powerhouse of a woman who has impacted and influenced my life tremendously as well. She is such a strong woman who’s bright, creative, dedicated and dependable. I’m sure it sounds like my grandmother takes the cake but my Mummy is my heart and the reason I am the independent go-getter I am today. My scholastic achievement in school and ambitious nature can all be attributed to her because of how she carries herself and goes after her dreams — since childhood she has modeled courage, class, couth and conviction before me. My Mummy was the one who told me I had to finish my Hooked on Phonics lesson before I could play outside as a kid. She was the one who was at every basketball game, band performance and school play cheering me on. She has stood beside me in everything I have done in my life, from the great accomplishments to the melancholy mistakes, never wavering in her love for me. She is fearless and full of zest when it comes to every aspect of her life. I’m thankful to have had her leadership, guidance, support and wisdom on my life’s journey. She’s a very special woman and because of her I have accomplished and acquired much; the best things being the intangible.

How did you get where you are today?

I am where I am today by the grace of God, many prayers, sacrifices and my city.

It was growing up in Boston’s inner-city that made me push myself in those moments when I questioned if my hard-work was worth it. I remember being a child hearing the tales of lost passions, wasted talents and forgotten dreams. Countless times we would run into my parents’ old friends and neighbors and while the names changed about blank who was the greatest at ____, smartest in ____, or the best ____, the stories always seemed to end the same. It would result in “but so and so” got hooked on drugs, or started hanging out with the wrong crowd, or ended up in jail or pregnant, etc. It was these buts that resulted in them never living up to their potential. I didn’t want that for myself and I decided long ago that I would have more than what my surroundings told me I could have as a young black woman.

So, when it was unpopular to do homework, not cut class and apply myself in school I was willing to do that. If it meant being or talking like a ‘white girl’ to my neighborhood friends by going to school in the suburbs as a product of the METCO program, I was willing to be that. If it meant going to church when that was the whack thing to do, I was willing to endure that. I always chose to defy odds and to be a leader instead of a follower. Not always, but usually. I just simply refused to be a statistic. I promised myself that I wouldn’t be a teen mom or a dropout, an addict hanging out in Dudley or a prostitute selling myself on Blue Hill Ave. I told myself I would accomplish more and return to the city to help inspire other young people who may have thought their dreams were unattainable or their goals unreachable. That’s why in every aspect of my life beginning in college as well as in grad school, I involved myself in organizations, clubs and things that would allow me to pay it forward.

After moving back to the city I made strategic moves to bring my preparation to fruitful opportunities. I chose to write for a paper, the Bay State Banner, that doesn’t have the same hype like the Globe or Herald just so I could write meaningful stories about issues I was zealous about for my community — we have enough people trying to tell our stories for us. I chose to get involved with the CHICA Program and Big Sisters Association of Greater Boston so I could inspire a young girl to aspire. And I’m still active in my church (Timothy Baptist Church) and Sorority (Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.) so I can work for causes and help people I so passionately believe in. This is only the beginning though and I have so much further to go and so many more people to help. All my life I’ve had people believing in me, supporting me, encouraging me and praying for me. I understand that many don’t have that but I wish to be that source of empowerment for others the way so many were, and continue to be, for me.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In five years I will be the top editor of a nationally renowned magazine. I will also be a happily married wife and mother, home and business owner, world traveler and missionary.

What about this city inspires you?

Boston is known for many things but the areas of innovation, education, democracy and opportunity are what inspire me most. The city is young, full of creativity, fresh ideas and hungry entrepreneurs; as an artist that excites and motivates me always. The future of the Hub can be and will be whatever my cohort and I decide we want it to be. That’s a fact I’m well aware of as a twentysomething. This makes me mindful of the power I have and influences the choices I make when wielding it. It also inspires me to be my best self and to be careful to pave a way for others to make it as I continue to climb the rungs of success’ ladder.

Finish these sentences:

Boston should be . . . a place of transformation; one that challenges complacency and mediocrity in its members and one that lets no visitor leave without being better than when he/she first arrived.

Boston could be . . . an all-inclusive hotbed for setting the many myriad trends other people and places mirror.

Boston wants to be . . . contemporary in all aspects with superfluous, old-school thinking and tactics.

Boston needs . . . collective unity across all disciplines and facets of the diversity spectrum.

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