De’Sarae Chambers Perry, Maysville Community & Technical College Director of Community Workforce & Economic Development.

What factors or values drive and inspire you in both your personal and professional life?

My drive started from my background as an athlete. When I started at 5 years old, playing at the Tom Browning Boys and Girls Club, I was very timid and shy playing against mainly boys. But in the game of life, you have to step up to challenges and work tirelessly to be the best at whatever you choose to do. Sports was my driver for many years, but then it transpired into being the best person in life for my family. My family now drives everything in me to be the very best and give my all, whether I am working my way up the career ladder or just navigating through life trying to find ways to give back to the youth. But none of my ability or stable health to do what I do would be possible without my relationship and trust in God. I would say my faith is the biggest value and factor in how I am able to succeed and keep pushing forward. I thank my parents and grandparents for instilling in me that God is the most important factor in my life, starting at a very young age.

Who has been/is a role model in your life (currently or in the past)?

Very cliché, but my parents have been my role models. They taught me many things in life, but the most important thing was always to reach, to achieve and do better than what they have. As a first-generation college graduate attaining a bachelor’s degree, that is where I set my first sights. While having the amazing opportunity to receive a scholarship to play basketball at the respected University of Dayton, this definitely helped make that first goal possible. This would have never been possible without their continuous support and pushing me to be the best, even in times of defeat. Even still to this day, all of my professional success they tell me how proud they are and celebrate my achievements. But, what makes me most proud is they are instilling those same principles of hard work, manners, persistence, and kindness into their grandchildren.

What strategies or actions do you recommend for African American job seekers to distinguish themselves and standout in a competitive job market?

  • Networking; because we all know most times, it’s not about what you know, but who you know!
  • Getting a degree and looking for those free or low-cost opportunities!
  • Being a resource to others in your community and showing the blueprints to success, once you have found them!
  • Not being afraid to be told no and keep fighting for what you believe in! Sometimes we just have to step out on faith and put ourselves out there to be seen, because no one can find you if they don’t know you exist.
  • Knowing your value and what you can bring to the table!
  • Be a lifelong learner and be curious in ways to help you propel in your career and life!
  • Don’t be afraid to step out and start your own business, there are agencies within our community to help with this!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Whether it be new skills (ex. Communications, tactics, etc.) or help with a resume or cover letter).
  • Create a plan for your life short-term and long-term, and adjust that plan as needed. But you have to start somewhere and look forward!

How do you personally interpret and value Black History Month? (What meaning does it hold for you?)

Black History Month is celebrating the history, good and bad, for our ancestors, living relatives that experienced the post slavery segregation, and to now. It all seems like phases to me, but every moment of living and experiencing life to the outcomes is what makes this month so special. For myself, my husband, and children, taking in all of the educational resources that have been passed from generation to generation, we are learning to do better and be better by contributing to history for years to come. As a family we do many things to recognize Black History Month, but it is not limited to just February, this is a life long journey of learning.