We had the good fortune of connecting with Ramaya Thomas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ramaya, what role has risk played in your life or career?
When I think about risks I approach them with a mindset of “Why Not”. This is because oftentimes I realize I have no regrets and that different situations were simply lessons learned. I think risks are subtle decisions that can have grand impacts that can actually change our lives. Oftentimes when we don’t get the result we hoped for, we start to think we have failed, when in actuality there is greatness in failing forward. As I have matured I have realized that most times when I am taking risks I focus too hard on the outcome and the future when I should simply find the gift in the present. Taking risk have shown to typically work in my favor and leave me saying “I am so glad I made that decision”. Taking risks has played a large role in my life from the different programs I have joined, to the awards I have received, and to the network, I have built. One of the biggest risks provided me with was finding my voice. As a once quiet kid who was scared to speak too loud or stutter too much in front of large crowds finally took a risk, I found my voice through storytelling which has allowed me to fall in love with public speaking, activism, and debate.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As an award-winning activist, journalist, and public speaker, I found the value in my voice., My voice has grown to be my biggest expression of creativity and art. I have found that the way I am able to put words together and cultivate stories can move people’s souls and excite others. I would say my ability to articulate complex debates, thoughts, and feelings is what separates me from others. I have been molded to believe two things that have changed the way I approach my art for a lifetime. These being “it’s not what you say, its how you say it” (my parents) and “… people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” (Maya Angelou). Because of this as I practice and better my skill I always remember to shake every room and leave people feeling something. I have been able to be a published journalist, founder of an activism organization, and public speaker by taking risks and continuously being open to trying new things. This wasn’t easy because through this process I was told no many times and rejected of a few opportunities, which I then came to realize was more so redirection for opportunities that have impacted me immensely. Throughout me realizing the power of my voice I started to realize the importance of authenticity which I think has also allowed me to be distinctive amongst others. Being consistent with this authenticity was hard because I also have a problem with reaching for perfectionism which has provided many challenges. Regardless of these flaws, I have realized that there is beauty in being me, my voice, and my love for social justice. I want the world to know that my story wouldn’t be as powerful without my support system cheering me on every step of the way, I want people to know that regardless of however many no’s they hear all it takes is one yes, and I want people to know that their voice is their power.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I personally have friends that love to shop and try new things, because of this I would take them to a few of my favorite places like Atlantic Station to get good food, watch movies, and do some shopping. I would also take them to some small stops in ATL like little 5 points, krog street tunnel, the escape room, the high museum, and more. In my view I think some of the most fun and interesting things to do are things that weren’t planned all out and just go with the flow because it leaves room to try new things.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My parents Venus & Ronnie Thomas deserve the most recognition within my story. They continue to be an amazing support system, loving parents, and advocates for pushing me to be my best self. Throughout the organizations and programs, I have joined they have dedicated their time and energy to ensure I could do things that I love and were best preparing me for my future. They have molded me to critically think about the factors around me, be intentional with every decision I make, and live life with great faith. They deserve the biggest thank you and the most amount of gratitude because they have not only met the criteria of the best parents in the world but the people who love me unconditionally and are my “biggest cheerleaders”. There are also a few educators and programs that have paved a beautiful road of success for me. Some of these stopping points along the way have been the Arthur Langford Jr. Teen Leadership Institute, VOXAtl, and the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project. These organizations have changed my life in ways that are irrevocable, from the intellectual growth they have provided, to the confidence they have pulled out of me, and from the love they continue to show will forever be appreciated.
Instagram: Personal: @Ramaya.simone / Business: @Wesparkchange
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