Wholeness Awaits Me…
To be whole is to be unbroken, undamaged, one with you, God and others.
To be whole is to be without restriction and lacking nothing.
My vision is that every little girl and every woman would grab onto that…
Dr. Sharon Sanders-Funnye
Author of HER Voice: A Legacy of
Modeling, Mentoring, and Othermothering.
My professional mentor — Dr. Sharon Sanders Funnye…
My first encounter with her was at a community college where we worked together.
She was smart, direct, spiritual, confident and honest. It was obvious that her students and staff respected her, as did I.
We connected to coordinate assignments and presentations. Soon after, we found ourselves exchanging thoughts about individual goals, challenges and ideas…with much laughter in between.
Dr. Funnye became more like my family. I became more empowered.
Heading to a work conference, she spoke with me about fulfilling my career goals. One important gem she gave me was a journal with a note that read: Write the vision. Here’s to your dreams coming true. This moment helped push me to work harder and write more.
I will always be grateful for her sincere encouragement, support and mentorship.
As we grow and develop into our own being, we often connect with people that help shape our lives. Whether it is a family member, friend or coworker, these relationships create some of the most beautiful bonds and teach some of life’s most valuable lessons that we never forget.
Education leader and author, Dr. Sharon Sanders-Funnye presented a genuine reflection of her life’s mentorship experiences in debut book, Her Voice: A Legacy of Modeling, Mentoring, and Othermothering.
With the company of accomplished co-authors, Her Voice is genuine with fresh perspective and storytelling. It is an open letter of gratitude and goes beyond the simple impression of saying ‘thank-you’. Her Voice is a roundtable of testimony and due homage to others, that made an imprint on the lives of these women; triggering emotions that will often resonate with its readers.
In an interview with Rated Ransom, Dr. Funnye channels her inspiration, defines mentorship, learning from others, the Art of becoming a woman and women’s empowerment… She even coins her own slogan.
RR: What inspired you to write this type of book?
Dr. Funnye: My Doctoral dissertation was a narrative inquiry. I was moved by the stories the women shared in my study, so I wanted to hear more from other phenomenal women…how they came to be, and who helped them to become great!
I am so grateful for the modeling, mentoring, and othermothering I received from my mom, grandmothers, aunts and professors that I wanted to share my story. God gave me the vision for Her Voice.
RR: What is your definition of mentorship?
Dr. Funnye: [Mentorship] is coaching, fellowshipping, listening, sharing, imparting wisdom and touching another’s inner soul – all of which leads to growth and development, not only in the mentee but also in the mentor. Not everyone mentors well. The sign of a true mentor is in the growth of the mentee, and a lasting memory and appreciation for how the mentor helped in shaping and positively influencing the mentees’ life. Both, the mentor and mentee win!
RR: Though your approach may be similar in each, explain mentoring with family, friends and professionally.
Dr. Funnye: My approach is similar and there are very few differences. I approach each mentoring opportunity with enthusiasm and authenticity. I have always been a very direct person, so those family members and friends know me as such. They expect candid information, which is based on my experience and truth. However, the mentee’s needs come first. The way I mentor is based on developing a caring and honest relationship that lasts…sometimes for a lifetime. Professional mentoring is similar but depends on how open the mentee may be in a given situation. With younger mentees, I often “othermother” them. At other times, professional mentoring may appear in the form of modeling, which demonstrates a specific behavior and may be silent, as opposed to open conversation.
RR: “The Art of becoming women”… sometimes women have difficulty in self-discovery, determining self-worth and many other things… what is your best advice to help women see the “beauty” in the art of their being?
Dr. Funnye: My advice to women is to accept who we are and [know that] who we are is great! Live it, Love it and Be it!
Her Voice is a clarion call to women, to remind them that they are ‘still becoming.’ Dr. Anna Julia Cooper, one of the first African-American women to receive a doctoral degree shared this in her writing…We’re ALL still becoming.
Her Voice is a celebration of women before us, and a prompting for women in the present. [It] supports, encourages and uplifts women.
Each woman has so much to offer and can teach us so much. Why oppose that type of richness and beauty? None of us have arrived yet, but we can accomplish our goals and dreams if we stand together. It’s an ongoing process. Growth is an ongoing process. The ultimate goal is ‘wholeness.’ We can assist each other in the process of becoming WHOLE by modeling, mentoring, and othermothering.
RR: Explain more about your experience growing up in the segregated south, and how it impacted your relationships with mentors/teachers. How do those past experiences impact/influence you now?
Dr. Funnye: My answer is based on Chapter 1: Note to self…
My academic identity began to form around third grade. I was becoming confident in my ability to read, speak and lead. My teacher, Mrs. Glover, although I didn’t realize it at that time, was mentoring me. She took so much care and time in helping me develop into an exceptional reader.
By fifth grade, the schools were desegregated. I was bussed to an all-white school. Being placed into a new school was not as welcoming as my mother or I had hoped.
The black students (in my class) were treated differently. In my case, my talents and abilities were overlooked or ignored. No longer was I considered or expected to speak up or lead.
I remember a boy by the name of James, who was always disciplined by standing in the corner, facing the wall, with one leg up. Even though it was probably allowed at that time, it seemed excessive to me. The micro-aggressions were evident. I do not think the teachers were trained in how to understand or deal with cultural differences. Nonetheless, I survived!
My saving grace was the memories of teachers I had before. While writing Her Voice, I was reminded of all the positive relationships that I have had with teachers and professors, and how they mentored me. All the experiences, good and not so good, helped to shape my thinking, growth, and development into a well-rounded individual.
It is my belief that I am who I am because of God and those who have gone before me. We all learn from each other. An example of that includes the contributors to the Her Voice book: Joanna McGee Bradford, Avis Calhoun, Adriane Price, Sybria Davis, Ashley Cullen- Williams, Dr. Michele Cox, Dr. Sylvia Johnson Jones, and Dr. Verna Wilson. These women have influenced my life. Each of us is creating a legacy of modeling, mentoring, and othermothering for generations to come.
RR: What are your thoughts on differences in mentoring/”othermothering” within the past three decades? … Stronger?… providing more access for children/students/girls?
Dr. Funnye: I believe that we’ve seen a great deal of growth: Take your daughter to work day, STEM for Women, the new Woman Boss cliché, and the recent Women’s March across this nation.
There has been some real progress, but I have also been disheartened by the media representation of women…the Reality shows and derogatory comments about women by America’s new leader…it’s all so unnecessary and unacceptable. Not to mention the inequities in pay with regard to men versus women, and an [even] larger disparity with regard to men versus women of color.
We [must] continue to stand together! The work is never only for self-gain because the work should always be about lifting up others! We still have more work to do.
Having said that…a woman’s focus [is] being her best self, being aware of who she is and who she wants to become, and doing the work to get there. Once she reaches her goals, she should use what she has gained to empower others. It’s always been about modeling, mentoring, and othermothering, to empower others.
Over the years, we may not have been actively using the word mentoring, but the concept was in place and is being actualized now more than ever. We are our sister’s keeper.
RR: Women’s Empowerment and Mentoring platform is continuously growing. This is OUR time, and it’s only going to get better. What is your next plan of action to add to this great movement?
Dr. Funnye: My next plan of action includes continuing to seek creative ways to support women. I will offer tools that can assist my sisters in Stepping into Wholeness.
I am also in the process of offering support through another platform…a blog, which offers e-mentoring — HerVoiceMentoring.com
I will continue to lead workshops, develop more curriculum, and ultimately, create an environment that moves others to enlarge their dreams; one that leads them to passionate and whole living. Lastly, I am creating an initiative that utilizes education as a catalyst to promote and support greatness…Savannah Dream Center! More details to come.
RR: Women Rock. [Black] Girls Rock. [Black] Girl Magic. … these empowering slogans carry a lot of weight and pride. If you had to create your own, what would it be?
Dr. Funnye: My Slogan is W.A.M.!
Wholeness Awaits Me. To be whole is to be unbroken, undamaged, one with you, God, and others; to be whole is to be without restriction and lacking nothing.
My vision is that every little girl and every woman would grab onto that.
W.A.M….Wholeness Awaits Me, even in the process of becoming.
Step into Wholeness!
To read more about Dr. Sanders-Funnye’s journey through mentoring, you can order your copy of Her Voice: A Legacy of Modeling, Mentoring, and Othermothering at Amazon.com!!
Dr. Sharon Sanders-Funnye has a B.S. in Biology, M.S. in Food Science, and a Doctoral Degree in Education, with emphasis on Curriculum and Social Inquiry.
Dr. Sanders-Funnye is currently Director of a pre-college program at a large community college in Illinois. She has also taught as an adjunct professor at a private college and directed a youth development program for a non-profit organization.
Prior to working with students, Sharon was employed as Associate Director for a Fortune 100 Food Company for 16 years (first as a scientist and later as a manager). During her time with the company, she also volunteered as a tutor and workshop leader for K-8 grades in the Lawndale community in Chicago.
Sharon has always been excited about serving young people and utilizes education to promote transformed lives. She is grateful for God’s favor and her 25+ years of youth development experience. She believes that she was created to do this work!
Dr. Sanders-Funnye may be contacted for conferences, workshops or professional development training at firstname.lastname@example.org.