Chief Officer of Operations: Ebony Webber, MBA
My MANRRS Story
Everyone’s life’s journey begins at some remote location. My journey began in a small rural town in Mississippi. At an early age, I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life, but knew I had bigger and better aspirations than the ones that surrounded me. In rural Mississippi, there are many cotton fields, rice fields, and catfish ponds, so I knew agriculture was definitely not the field for me.
At both elementary and middle school, I was an A student. In middle school, I became involved in basketball. Becoming involved in sports was a great opportunity for me to do more productive things with my time. Through dedication and hard work, I excelled at both academics and sports, but everyone told me that high school would be much different.
Entering high school was a big change. I attended high school in another town and had to adapt to new peers and teachers. I couldn’t rely on my reputation of excellence to get me by, so I had to re-establish myself. I continued playing basketball and began running track and field. Growing up in Mississippi, I didn’t have many opportunities for summer programs or internships. With this reality check, I knew that I was already behind other kids who had come from bigger cities with better resources. This was more motivation for me to push myself harder. I continued to excel in academics and sports. I graduated high school Salutatorian and received a full academic scholarship to Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
I thought to myself, “Life has finally started!” This was my first time living away from home. I was very excited to gain my independence but also afraid of failing. During registration, the first question I was asked was “What will you be majoring in?” My first thought was Pre-Med, but that required too much schooling so I answered, “Computer Science.”
I was first introduced to MANRRS my sophomore year by Carl Butler. Although I was an independent member of MANRRS, I never had an active affiliation with the organization. During my last semester in college, I became pregnant with my son. Not only did this turn my world upside down, but school no longer was my main priority. When the real world was about to kick in, bigger obstacles were being placed in front of me. Graduation was right around the corner and I had no plans or possible job opportunities. I began to think I would have to move back to Mississippi, the place that I had worked so hard to leave behind that only offered underpaid salaries and little to no job opportunities. I was very disheartened, but I did not lose hope. I graduated Cum Laude and at the top of the Computer Science and Mathematics department.
Shortly after moving back to Mississippi and giving birth to my son, Carl Butler contacted me about a possible job opportunity as his assistant at the MANRRS executive office in Memphis, Tennessee. of course, being a new, single, and unemployed mother, I gladly accepted. That job opportunity is the reason I am writing my story for you today. Although I was not affiliated with MANRRS through the traditional way of agriculture or natural resources, this organization has impacted my life greatly. MANRRS has helped me begin the second journey of my life. It has helped me to grow professionally, as well as build lifelong connections with friends I’ve met while employed by the organization. Through MANRRS, I have been exposed to a group of people that believe in helping young, minority students and providing avenues to allow them to be successful. My life’s journey has taught me that faith, hard work, and endurance will warrant success. It also has taught me that “Tough times don’t last, tough people do.” So, I choose to give back to an organization that has given so much to me – another “success” story in my life’s journey.