The Scholarship That Helped Deesha Dyer Land A Dream Job at the White House
Deesha Dyer served as White House Social Secretary and advised the President of the United States but she might never have reached Pennsylvania Avenue without the scholarship provided by the Philadelphia chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc.
She said that scholarship kept her moving forward at an unsteady time during her academic journey.
“This is the scholarship that was available for me,” Dyer told the coalition members at the Madam CJ Walker Awards Luncheon at the Sheraton Hotel on March 17. “You have to understand that, because of this scholarship, that was the reason why I was able to continue in school and that was the reason why I was able to be an intern for President Barack Obama and continue school and that was the reason why I was able to be an intern for President Barack Obama and that is why I was the last employee person to walk out of the White House on Jan. 17, 2017 (as President Obama left office).”
(Scholarships can and often do keep students from stopping out or dropping out of community college, added Gregory Murphy, the College’s VP for Institutional Advancement in an interview. This semester alone, the College will award $120,000 in scholarships, part of its ongoing commitment to promote student success and credential and degree completion.)
Dyer, a renowned alumna who often discusses Community College of Philadelphia’s transformative effect on her life, had a triumphant return to the Coalition luncheon, returning in 2018 as its keynote speaker.
Now a creative event strategist and motivational speaker, Dyer shared her unconventional career path to Washington D.C., which began when she restarted life at the age of 27 by enrolling in Community College of Philadelphia. From there, she scored a nonpaid internship at the White House and then was hired fulltime. She missed her own College graduation because she was traveling with President Obama.
The crowd was hushed as Dyer encouraged audience members to look out for each other, as both a wellness and career strategy. Before she spoke, Pennsylvania Gov.ernor Tom Wolf encouraged Deesha to contact him should she want another public sector job and Mayor James Kenney provided her with a miniature Liberty Bell, a symbol of the City’s affection for its hometown girl.
Ms. Anyssa Elmanfaa, a student who sat at a table filled with other women from Community College of Philadelphia, listened intently to Deesha’s remarks. An international studies major, Anyssa was soaking in the atmosphere and networking with a lot of the city’s VIPs, women especially.
Anyssa has found that the College offers opportunities to engage with classmates and staff and get involved with community issues such as domestic violence and immigration.
“As a home schooled student, I didn’t have that interaction with a large student body,” she said. “I found myself at a disadvantage.”
She is reaping rewards from her decision to apply classroom lessons beyond the campus.
Anyssa recently was selected as the American Association for Women in Community College’s Region One 2017-2018 scholarship winner. In addition to the $500 scholarship, she also will receive a one-year membership to the National AAWCC, which will allow her to further enhance her college experiences and network.
In addition, Deesha Dyer, strolled over to the College’s table at the luncheon, just to meet Anyssa and offer mentorship and support. “Deesha turned to me and smiled as she put her hand over mine, and said, ‘Take your time. Your education is your gift. Take it easy and do your best.’"
Anyssa concluded, “Deesha taught me that you don’t have to be "Harvard" to succeed.”