Toya: As a child, I grew up in the projects and my mom worked so we actually had it better than most of the kids around me. I was spoiled and got just about everything I needed but not everything I wanted. As a teen, we moved into a better neighborhood and my mom kept everything. I didn't have a lot of friends because I was smart and most of the kids in the neighborhood didn't take school seriously. I didn't have a lot of people to look up to growing up, I was the first person in my immediate family to graduate from college. I was always perceived as the project girl because of where I came from and with my urban look a lot of teachers would try to belittle my dreams saying that it wouldn't happen. So, I took all that in and vowed to make sure my dreams became reality. It made me work harder to prove everyone wrong even my family and friends. The road was hard because I had a lot of hurdles to get through but with determination it all paid off.
VR: When did you first become seriously committed to bringing your dream to fruition and why?
Toya: I first started becoming serious about writing in 2009. I was laid off and I had a knee surgery that kept me in the house for a while and I got bored and figured I might as well write and pursue my dream. I had started writing a book the year prior but it was just a couple of chapters. During that year that I was off I picked up my pen daily and would write several chapters at a time. By the end of that year I had written my first book, "Who said Life was Easy" and published it through Amazon with a tremendous response and I thought to myself "I have arrived."
VR: What keeps you motivated to pursue your dream?
Toya: My kids keep me motivated. They say I inspire them. They see that I am chasing my dream and not giving up and it makes them work harder towards their goals. My job motivates me as well because I am so unhappy working for someone, it makes me go hard to get what I want.
VR: What advice would you give to other Dream Chasers to help them accomplish their goals and dreams?
Toya: I would say to never give up and don't be scared to just go for it, sometimes you may fail, but you must start somewhere to eventually get the results you want.
VR: Who inspires you the most?
Toya: I am inspired by a lot of people but I am mostly inspired by Tyler Perry. He shows that hard work pays off. He was once homeless but still kept pursuing his dream until it paid off. He never gave up despite the obstacles that came his way.
VR: How can we support your project?
Toya: You can support my projects by helping promote and volunteering for different events we may have. I also invite volunteers to come in to speak to my group because a lot of them are scared and timid, any positive inspiration would be welcomed.