Introducing Marketta – Starting from humble beginnings and raised by her Grandma, Marketta was determined to EXCEL. World traveled and an Army Vet today she volunteers, mentors and works as a Technology Research Analyst. In her words… “THE SKY’S THE LIMIT! Grab on to the positive people in your life” read more below….
I was raised in a VERY small town in South Carolina by my grandparents because my parents left us when we were young. As you can imagine, I didn’t have the typical life. Grandma was so old-fashioned! But she took care of us when no one would and I’m forever grateful to her. I did very well in school – 4.0 GPA, President’s Honor Roll, the whole nine – mostly because it was easy and also because it pleased Grandma. ☺ My grandmother raised us in the AME Church. We went to Sunday school every Sunday morning, church service afterwards, church specials in the afternoon, choir practice on Mondays and Thursdays, Bible study on Wednesdays and Children’s Church on Friday. Every time the church bus was headed somewhere, we were on it! Even when she got to the point where health-wise she couldn’t come with us, she made sure we had clothes to wear and that we were in Church. Although there were times later in my life where I did not use those values to make decisions, she ensured they were instilled in me. My grandmother lived on a budget before us and it only got tighter after us so I didn’t get to go on trips, didn’t have the nicest clothes or shoes but I had her, food and a place to stay. I had never even been out of the county let alone the state as a child. At the end of the day, that’s better than everything. BUT … as I got older, in typical teenage fashion I started ‘smelling myself’ if you let Rose tell it. My grades didn’t slip but my behavior did. So you know that God works in mysterious ways, around the age of 16 my mother reappeared out of nowhere. I didn’t really know how to accept her and it took me a while to let her back in my life. A while wasn’t really that long because about 6 months later I was in the back of her car heading to Florida to live a new life with her and my sisters. That life was completely different than my country upbringing. It was safe in the country. There was family in the country. There was love in the country and a whole lot of good cooking! In Florida, my mother spent her time either working or cooped up in the room with her young, drug addict boyfriend. I didn’t really get the opportunity to develop a relationship with her and get to know her. It seemed like she came back into our life more for ‘show’ and less because it was the right thing to do. But my sisters, we definitely stuck together. I’m a twin. We don’t know who’s older because my mom can’t remember and the birth certificates don’t list the time. I guess if we really wanted to know I’m sure there are hospital records still available from 1985…. In either case, we looked out for each other. But Cocoa, Florida had a way of changing people. Especially 3 young, pretty, NEW and naïve young black girls… My twin sister ended up dropping out of high school at 16 and shortly after got pregnant with her first child – my niece. My little sister did the same – dropped out of school and got pregnant at 13. Honestly, I could’ve fell into the same cycle as they did. God spared me and I thank him every day for not allowing my environment and my own behavior to take over my life before it had a real opportunity to start. As I think back, I realize now that seeing my sisters in those situations did not bring joy to me at all. They were one of the fuels I needed to make sure that I did not allow that city to suck me into its trap of welfare, projects and street life. Unfortunately, I did let that fast life consume me to a point where I was in my senior year of high school all of a sudden, with no college prospects and no idea what I was going to do after I graduate. One thing I had going for myself was JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps). I had participated in that program since middle school and absolutely loved it. I used my instructors to reach out to a recruiter about my options. I pretty much aced the ASVAB exam and was told I could get any job I wanted, got a college fund and a bonus to join. I was stoked. I remember graduating from high school and not even 3 days later heading to Jacksonville, Florida to start my military journey. I never looked back.
I spend almost 9 years in the US Army. I traveled the WORLD! I have been to almost all continents by this point when there was a time in my life where I had never even left my own tri-town area back in the country! I have numerous awards and accolades from the Army. I deployed in support of our country for Operation Iraqi Freedom (Baghdad, Iraq), Operation Enduring Freedom (Tallil Air Base, Iraq) and Operation New Dawn (Mosul, Iraq). I spend 3 years of my Army career in harm’s way. It was scary but I am so happy for the experience and I feel like I did my part. Not only that, but in the Army is where I developed my love for Information Technology. Prior to the Army, I had no interest. I was trained on communication systems, security and network components. In the Army, there was minimal specialization at the time and soldiers in the IT/Communications field generally were able to perform several different functions under the umbrella. My love grew and grew. I learned new things about myself and the way I process things. Such as – for some reason I do some of my best work under duress (hence trying to set up communications while being shot at). I like to solve problems – I feel like learning from negative situations help to reinforce your skills. Now I work as a Platform Owner/Technology Research Analyst at Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina. I wear heels to work. HEELS! I never thought that would happen… I work well with my teams and I feel like I have been given the most opportunities to excel within the organization. I also participate with Enginuity SC as a Carolina Alliance for Technology Mentor at Ridgewood/Westwood High Schools here in the Richland County area. I believe in giving back. I have a beautiful 7-year-old daughter whose soccer team I coached for a couple years with NO experience! My life is active because of her. I explain to her, my mentees and anyone else who’s willing to listen that your path is what you make it. It doesn’t matter where you came from, the color of your skin, your religion or your sex – THE SKY’S THE LIMIT! Grab on to the positive people in your life, make a plan and be willing to ride the wave because not every step is ordered. You have to find your way through but with your own fortitude and a support system you build as you go, you can be successful at anything.
– Marketta (Kita)