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Georgina Dukes

Georgina Dukes

Introduce yourself to our audience. Tell us who you are and what you are currently focused on.

My name is Georgina Dukes and I was born and raised in Monetta, South Carolina. I attended Clemson University and received a Bachelor of Science in Public Health Science. Post Clemson, I attended the Medical University of South Carolina and received my Masters in Health Administration. Throughout undergraduate and graduate education I have held project management roles in community and population health which led to me being awarded a 2-year fellowship at Duke University Hospital in 2015. After completing my fellowship, I was hired as a Strategic Services Associate for the Duke Heart team. As of October 2018, I left Duke Heart to aid North Carolina in the first state-wide software implementation that brings healthcare providers and human services providers together to focus on the patient and their communities to address social determinants of health. Outside of my healthcare career, I am the owner of a blog, www.joyofromeo.com, where I inspire, motivate, and educate individuals using my personal stories with becoming a mom to my son, Romeo, while enrolled at Clemson University. I am a social justice advocate and I have used my platform to speak at many events including Women's Rights, Teen & Unplanned Pregnancy Prevention, and Race Equity Workshops. When I am not working in healthcare, writing a blog, or advocating for social justice; you can find me and my son Romeo at local sports events, farmer's markets, and enjoying all that the triangle area has to offer!

Tell us about your favorite Ellevate Network memory or success story. Why are you a member?

My first interaction with Ellevate is when I attended lunch and learn. The discussion was around culture and fit. It was my first meeting and I told myself that I would be quiet and just observe but the conversation was so passionate that I had to speak up. I spoke about an issue that I had at work where I was told that I was unprofessional because I wore headphones when walking to the parking lot. My voice was shaking and I was so afraid to speak up but the women around the table welcomed me with open arms. Their comments empowered me beyond belief. They told me the positives and negatives about the situation and informed me about "cultural fit" and norms. This conversation completely changed my life professionally & personally and allowed me to better understand how to navigate in corporate America. It was from that moment that I knew Ellevate was for me. I have since attended many events and participated in the squad where I've found my Motivation Tribe!

What is one of your most memorable career accomplishments?

I was the “golden child” who gave everyone from my hometown hope that one of us had made it to college. Then, in April 2011 while a sophomore at Clemson University, I found out I was pregnant, & the world as I knew it began to crumble.

What was I supposed to do? Peers looked at me with disdain and professors encouraged me to drop out & come back once I had my life together. I felt I had failed everyone, mostly myself. In December 2011, the Friday of final exams week during my junior year of college, I gave birth to my son, Romeo. Instantaneously, life as I had previously known it changed. Over that Christmas break, I read the poem, Invictus, specifically the last stanza “ It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul. “ This poem caused me to realize that by putting a proper plan into action, I could succeed! I decided to go back to school with my 3-week old son by my side with the goal of graduating on time with honors... our journey began!

Romeo being born exposed me to a new world; one of joy, laughter, and motivation! A world where it was no longer only about me, but more so about my life, my career, and most of all me raising this weird miniature human that had some of my awesome physical characteristics. Motherhood did not signal the end of life for me. I did not have to sacrifice my education, my career, or my social life; it actually enhanced all of them. With my journey of motherhood as inspiration, I decided to share my experiences with other young ambitious mothers, with hopes that this empowers and encourages others to not give up and instead have fun, stay focused, and enjoy the journey!

I became a healthcare leader at a nationally ranked health system, Duke Health, a community advocate through an innovative start-up company, Unite Us, and the Founder of Joy of Romeo, a motherhood empowerment organization that has positively impacted the lives of working mothers across South Carolina and North Carolina. I have used my story to serve on regional advisory groups to help educate youth and prevent teenage and unplanned pregnancy in rural communities.

This failure turned blessing has taught me something that I apply to my life every day, which is make no excuses, take no excuses, & overcome. Failure was my teacher, not my undertaker. It gave me a detour that involved a road full of potholes, spikes, gaps, & much more, but I wouldn’t trade this journey for anything in the world because I now have my amazing Romeo, resilience, integrity, & the belief that only I can control my future & success because… “ It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul. “

What are some career challenges on your radar?

The Motherhood Penalty is the biggest career challenge on my radar.

Childless, unmarried women earn 96 cents for every dollar a man earns and yet the "gender-wage gap" says women make 80 cents to every man's dollar. "The highest-paying jobs disproportionately reward those who can work the longest, least flexible hours. These jobs penalize workers who have responsibilities outside the workplace.” Those workers tend to be women, more specifically moms!

I am constantly battling the stigma behind being a single mom more than any other stereotype. I have to show that I can do just as much as any other employee but it had to be within balance because my son comes first.

What is your morning ritual?

5:30am- Wake Up & Meditate 5:45am- Dance Workout via Youtube 6:15am- Shower & Dress 7:00am- Prepare & Dress my son for school 7:40am- Drop my son off for school 8:00am- Listen to Trap Music on my drive to work

What is your favorite social media site? Why?

My favorite social media site is Instagram because pictures mean the world to me! As a child, my family were the survivors of a house fire that took everything we had specifically the pictures of memories. I have little to no pictures of me from the first 11 years of my life because of that fire and all I have is certain memories that come and go. Pictures are the fuel that drives memories and I love how instagram gives a virtual space to post beautiful memories with captions so that I can remember for years to come.

What would you say your personal superpower is?

My personal superpower is storytelling. I believe the true way to create innovative change for the world is by evoking emotion through storytelling. Think about it - smoking didn't decrease because of the facts and figures about lung cancer, smoking decreased because of the stories told in the media about an individual struggling to talk with a hole in their throat or a loved one dying from a preventable cancer. The same is true for seat belts and drunk driving. The statistics behind vehicle fatalities didn't create change, it was the mom's story of the loss of her child and the death of an entire family. As a professional with a public health background, I understand how much changing a behavior can completely transform an individuals life and as a creative individual I try to tell stories that evoke change not only to impact lives but to transform communities.

What is one piece of advice you’d offer working moms?

As an ambitious and career-focused mom, I have not always practiced the art of leaving the office on time. As I continue to grow in my career and continue to raise my son, I learn more and more every day how vital my presence is to his future, his success, my health, and my success as well. I want to share with you all why I genuinely believe that to achieve the highs of both professional and personal life we must learn to turn off work and leave the office on time at least 80% of the time.

The CEO of Coca-Cola gave an amazing speech that I continue to look to on days when I try to push the clock at work. He said the following:

“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them – Work, Family, Health, Friends and Spirit and you’re keeping all of these in the air.

You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls – Family, Health, Friends and Spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these; they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for it.

Work efficiently during office hours and leave on time. Give the required time to your family, friends and have proper rest. Value has a value only if its value is valued.”

No longer will we drop the balls that matter. Work will always bounce back because you are a hard-working mom with amazing talent. Be good to your family and most of all yourself and leave work on time!


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