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Meet Akosua Sapara-Grant of Aspire Tate Academy & Miss Kosie in South Los Angeles

Today we’d like to introduce you to Akosua Sapara-Grant.

Akosua, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I graduated with my BA during the recession in 2006 from California State University, Northridge, so I didn’t have a job immediately. I moved to Atlanta, it’s a great place, but being deaf, it was hard to network and find jobs. So, I was forced to dive into my own skills and figure out what to do with myself. I saw an ad in Craigslist for a social media marketing person, and not really knowing much about it, I applied for it.

The way that I stood out was by making my resume into an infographic and it caught their eye. I ended up getting the opportunity had have been doing that for about 8-9 years now. I moved back to LA about six years ago, I was still doing freelance social media, but I wanted something a bit more stable. I began working at Aspire Tate Academy as an Instructional Assistant, not ever working in an educational setting, but the principal at the time took a chance on me. I was then promoted to our Blended Learning Teaching Assistant/Social Media Manager and then promoted again to our Educational Technology Specialist/Brand Manager. In the process of all this, I’ve also had two surgeries for cochlear implants to restore my hearing. It’s been an interesting few years, I’ve definitely come along way. It definitely helped that I had people taking chances on me by looking beyond the paper (resume) and trusting my skills and drive.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has not been a smooth road. I was born hearing and then lost some of my hearing due to spinal meningitis. This loss was classified as “moderate to severe loss’ and I was told that gradually it will continue to decline. However, during my elementary, middle, and high school years, I did not experience this decline so I began to believe it wouldn’t happen. But, once I hit college, that’s when it started happening. I wasn’t hearing my professors the same anymore, my interactions with people became more difficult, my speech also took a hit. I became withdrawn and at times a negative person. I didn’t want to admit that this decline in my hearing was hurting me, so for a while, I never really talked about it. Then finally, by the age of 25, I was pretty much deaf and was told that hearing aids would no longer work for me. It hurt. I should have prepared myself for it, but I didn’t.

We’d love to hear more about your work.
This is a long one.

I work at Aspire Tate Academy, which is an elementary school in South Los Angeles. I’m our Educational Technology Specialist, in a nutshell, I pretty much ensure that our students feel empowered by using 21-century skills through technology. I’m also our brand manager, where I manage our branding documents, imaging, marketing, and a lot of other things. My awesome coworkers always tell me this, but I would say I’m known for being a perfectionist, a boss, and downright silly. When you think of my story and how I ended up here, I would say what sets me apart from others is that I’ve had to constantly reinvent myself and unbeknownst to me, I pretty much created the role I’m in now. It feels pretty good.

I still do freelance social media marketing for other businesses. I’ve worked in beauty, fitness, real estate, and other industries. I’m proud of this opportunity because I’m always learning and it’s important for me to continue learning and never become too complacent.

I’m also a producer for Ladies Night Radio Show which is under The Good News Network. We define ourselves as that girl squad a lot of women don’t have. So, when we discuss topics, we do it with them in mind. All about women empowerment. I basically help with our script, photography, hosting our guests, and pretty much anything else the host requires. You know, produce. It’s pretty fun, takes me out my little cute shell. I’m proud to be a part of it, as I mentioned earlier, I’m introverted, so it’s nice be around outgoing people, talking, and bouncing ideas off each other.

What were you like growing up?
Growing up, I was introverted, most likely due to my hearing. I was funny, I wanted to try different things at school. I loved dancing, this may have been from watching my sister during her drill team practices at school. We’re 13 years apart, so she took me everywhere with her. I was always a nice person. Being raised by an African father, I knew not to get involved with bad crowds and make friends with my teachers. I was a low-key chill kid.

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