I was so excited to get home to New Jersey and enjoy the holiday season.
I definitely missed family, friends, and making merry nearby in the greatest city in the world (in my opinion) The Big Apple.
But there was more than just celebrating Christmas in New York, there was work to be done in my role as Miss Black New Jersey USA. My first stop was making an appearance at the NAACP Newark Branch ACT-SO program, built to encourage high school students to compete in their passions for scholarship money. As an ACT-SO alumna, I reconnected with past mentors, made new connections with young students, and witnessed such talent that would make any Jersey Girl proud.
From that experience, I got asked by a Spanish teacher at American History High School in Newark, NJ to speak to her students. The school had Latin, African, and first generation American students like myself and there was a panel of successful adults and college recruiters who each gave a perspective on achieving goals. We ate empanadas, danced to salsa and merengue, and truly had a great time. There were plenty of selfie moments, too.
This made me want to stop at my old high school, Rahway High. I spoke to the freshman health class about my platform, Multiple Myeloma, and career readiness. The exciting part was participating in the pep rally where I got to dance with the cheerleaders in the same place where I stood several years ago. Being at those high schools just made me cherish all the moments in the past.
Before relaxing into Christmas break, I had to pay homage to Kwanzaa. I got to host the Kwanzaa Festival sponsored by the Rahway NAACP Branch. It was full of performances, remarks from Mayor Steinman of Rahway, the lighting ceremony, as well as a film titled “The Black Candle.” I saw old friends and new little faces dressed in African inspired outfits.
In the midst of all of this, my boyfriend came to visit for the week and we went to Bryant Park to go ice skating. I’m no Michelle Kwan but skating with “bae” made me feel very special. Still trying to maintain a healthy diet, Kamarr and I went to visit Blossom, a vegan restaurant that was…Ah-Mazing. So good that I’m making an effort to go every time I’m in the city. It was the butternut squash gnocchi that took me over the edge along with the chef appetizer for two.
Seated right on the second floor of the restaurant, next to the window, chowing down on New Year’s Eve in NYC was just perfect. The crowds, the people, the noise, just made me realize how much happier and healthier I wanted to be in 2017. As I’m back in Memphis writing this blog, this experience serves as a reminder to continue to LIVE, LEARN, LOVE and LAUGH.