Melaninated Queen: Fevean Keflom

Fevean Keflom

Fevean Keflom

Hometown: Columbus, Ohio. The real SIX..one..four! Also, I gotta represent my roots - Eritrea, Africa – gotta give praise to the Motherland.

Education: Bachelor of Arts - University of Cincinnati: Communication and Public Relations Certificate & Master of Arts - School for International Training: Intercultural Service, Leadership and Management

Current Occupation: Program Coordinator (Community Connectors Mentoring Initiative), Columbus Urban League

Other Interests: Mama Africa, Eating (specifically cheesecake, rice to name a few), Natural Hair/Afros, Traveling, Music, Fashion and Art.

3 Words that Describe You: Corny, Spontaneous, Ambitious.

People would be surprised if they knew:  I’m an introvert extrovert. I love being around people and meeting new people, but I also enjoy being alone and in my thoughts. I can be really awkward; it really depends on the energy and what Pandora Station I was bumping that day. I’m also anxious about everything and anything—those closest to me know this. It takes over all aspects of my life -- but I’m working on this! One last thing -- I use to work at Disney World in College, I greeted hundreds of people unapologetically with a humongous mickey mouse glove on one hand. Everyone loved me.

What is your most rewarding accomplishment?  Getting my Masters! Hunttty.. that ish was stressful. I absolutely loved my program, was able to do my field work in Columbus and landed a job that I was passionate about all before I graduated. Nonetheless, it was a very trying time for me -- mentally, spiritually and physically. To backtrack my parents came here as refugees from Eritrea in 1986 and 1988, my mom with a 7th grade education and my father with a 10th. My dad still managed to receive his associates from Columbus State after being out of school for over 15 years and now in a foreign country with little to nothing (Temesgen Amlak!- “Thanks to God”). My parents have always been passionate about education and although I’ve never considered myself to be the smartest and have been challenged with formal education—they empowered me to utilize the experience as a tool to inspire and uplift my community. This degree was also important because prior to grad school, I had just completed two years of service with City Year at Linden McKinley STEM Academy (Go Panthers). Much of my drive to go back to school came from the students I had the privilege of serving. While working on my thesis, I created a scholarship fund and was able to award youth I worked with during those years at graduation. A couple weeks before their graduation, I successfully defended my thesis. Basically it was the best couple weeks of my life. Definitely a look at GAWD moment.

How do you define success?  I define success as a journey rather than a specific moment in time or situation. I think society puts a lot of pressure on us to see it as this monumental peak of happiness, but I see it being progressive, limitless, and timeless. Success has to come from within, you have to know who you are and seek your purpose in life. I think about Lauryn Hill spittin “how you gonna win when you ain’t right within?”  Seriously, if you ain’t right by you, people will control your destiny and define success for you based upon their perception of reality.

What is your passion/purpose and why?  My passion and purpose is youth development. I want to create impactful and sustainable youth programs for urban communities. The amount of potential you can find in the streets is crazy, it’s a gold mine! I also have a passion for all things Africa—my Facebook name use to be Fevean Mama Africa. I want to see Black people connect without borders and love one another unconditionally. I don’t like to say bridging the gap because we are family in my mind. I want to continue to bring knowledge and power to our communities through various mediums, so that we can learn from one another and begin to profit from our greatness much like the rest of the world. (Economically, Spiritually, Culturally etc.)

If you could meet anyone (dead or alive), who would it be and why?  It would have to be Tupac Shakur (RIP) but only if I could meet Auntie Assata too. Their love for liberation and people is inspiring and raw, the world is always in need of that. And I also have to add one more person, Abraham Afewerki (RIP). He was a legendary singer in Eritrea, look him up! His music was euphoric, poetic and revolutionary. He was simply beautiful.

What is one thing you always wanted to try and never did? To live on my own—no roommates, no pets. Just me, myself and Beyonce’s voice. Growing up in an African home, we had hella people in my family and have had relatives move in from time to time -- so I’ve always been accustomed to living with a village damn near. In college, I was an RA so again -- always surrounded by people. Anywhere I’ve moved for school or work, I’ve had roommates. But also, I’m lowkey scared and basically traumatized from years of watching Lifetime movies. So I’ll probably never live alone.

What do you like to do for fun?  I like to TRAVEL! Anytime I can leave whether that be domestic or international travel, I’m there. I check google flights everyday - just saying. I love to spend time with my family and friends. I am passionate about attending community events, if there is any event in Columbus uplifting and empowering Black people I will try to be there. Always down to try a new restaurant, attend cultural events and festivals! I enjoy reading about history, watching random videos on YouTube (Especially natural hair tutorials) and listening to music and going to concerts. I love to chillllllllllll. Good Vibes ONLY.

What was the last book that you read?  The New Jim Crow. It’s been awhile, I have a difficult time finishing books. Lately, I just stick to reading long articles. Maybe this summer that will change.

If you could change one world problem, what would it be and why?  Racism is too simple for me, so I will attack the root and say White Supremacy; its impact on the world and my community. The social and psychological impact it has had and continues to have on our people is disheartening. So many layers you have to strip before you can even begin to heal. Specifically, to Black communities across the diaspora, the fact that we are constantly trying to heal, forgive, unlearn and love one another in the midst of seeing our people under attack generation after generation. So stay woke! *Childish Gambino Voice*

What advice do you have for other Melaninated Queens out there?   Be you, love yourself first and those around you unconditionally. We are healers and have contributed so much wealth to this earth. Be humble, stay fly and stay focused mama!