This quote – “Focus on the good and the pleasant in the midst of unpleasant situations” – replays in my mind as I think about my dear friend and fellow comrade, Selena Rodgers Dickerson and her life’s work.
Wife. Mother. Community Leader. Businesswoman. Survivor. These are just a few of the titles that describe this month’s Another Winning Moment Spotlight: Selena Rodgers Dickerson.
On the road to “winning”, Selena faced many challenges. One instance occurred while she was in college. Selena was severely beaten by her then boyfriend and was hospitalized as a result. However, the psychological and emotional toll from the abuse had lasting impacts. A former athlete, she used to leverage her athletic abilities to harness her strength and confidence. This traumatic incident stripped her of her sense of self, courage and independence. While it took her years to fully recover from the emotional and mental impacts of this violent act, the following summer Selena took one action that sparked her journey in healing and rediscovering herself. Selena enrolled in basic training. In basic training she found herself and her voice again. Going through the physical rigor of training and the life skills of self-defense and weapons training began to help her to reconnect to her strength, self-esteem and independence once more.
Instead of letting this traumatic experience define her, Selena uses it to motivate her through other difficult situations in life. She says to herself “that didn’t kill you, so keep going. You made it through. You can keep going.” Selena prefers to be known that she survived domestic violence and didn’t stop there. “She kept kicking butt”, she says. It was just one circumstance that she overcame along the way.
Selena’s faith is a large part of her life. It was her faith in God that gave her the strength she needed to rediscover herself and plan her future. Her second challenge was to put herself through school by working full-time. It wasn’t just about graduating, it was about surviving and failure wasn’t an option. Hebrews 11:1 is one verse that kept her on track. No matter how long it took, Selena knew that a college degree would afford her the type of life she dreamt of living. So, she persevered. She graduated from Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering and after entering the workforce she returned back to school to earn her Master of Science in Business Administration with a project management focus.
By the time Selena was laid off in 2010, she had already formed her company’s LLC, obtained her MBA and networked such that she was able to seamlessly start working for herself. It wasn’t that she was just fortunate, but it was years of planning and persistence that led to her taking God-ordained deliberate steps along the way. Selena believes success is where preparation meets opportunity. I couldn’t agree more.
Selena currently owns a number of successful businesses including SARCOR, LLC which provides engineering, project management, and construction management to private, corporate, and municipal clients; Selene, LLC, a diverse business solutions company that helps organizations locate minority contractors; and a commercial real estate portfolio which includes a fully leased building in the trendy Uptown area of downtown Birmingham.
As a black woman in engineering, her business success hasn’t always come easy or gone smoothly. However, Selena maintains a persistent outlook. There have been countless times she felt discouraged because of the treatment she received, but she didn’t quit. She’s already broken barriers and intends to continue to do so to pave the way for others to follow in her footsteps. It’s this commitment to her community, her team and her relentless pursuit of excellence that sets her apart from her peers.
A part of Selena’s daily routine is prayer and a bible reading to start her morning before her feet ever hit the ground. She’s become even more disciplined in staying connected to God and growing in her faith over the past year. Selena makes sure to incorporate her daughter into her prayer routine and speaks a daily affirmation over her daughter to help build up her confidence and faith. Selena often prays for provision and believes in God to provide it in plain and elementary ways so that she knows it came from God and God alone.
Selena’s biggest lesson learned is to be resilient despite your circumstances. If you want something out of life, your actions have to be in alignment with your words.
We can’t control all parameters of our life, but we can control our response and our actions, and we can become success stories, just like Selena.