It was during the era of female empowered black sitcoms like “Sister, Sister,” when author and philanthropist, Celina Monique, saw herself being represented for the first time through media.
She would soon come to her own concrete platform, in order to implement the same positivity, encouragement and light to other black girls who needed someone to tell them, they could.
In April of last year, Celina experienced a life-changing situation. While celebrating a friend’s birthday out of town, a man cracked his drinking glass across her face. Doctors informed her if it would’ve hit a main artery or caused her to lose more blood, she could’ve lost her life.
Celina said this was a wake-up call for her because life is too short, and she wants to do everything in her power to ensure she makes an impact. With that new mindset, and realization of her life’s purpose, Celina went on to create Amazon best-seller “Note to Self: Affirmations to Young Queens,” a book dedicated to all black girls, to empower and provide positive direction to their self-esteem and life. “Around college, is when I realized and began to love who Celina Monique was. When this incident occurred, I thought to myself, I just got it together and now this is taking me all the way back. So the experience promoted me to say, “Now I need to do something.” When I looked at myself in the mirror last April, and I saw this swollen face that was crushed up with stitches, I saw a monster. It took me to a place where I had to tell myself you are beautiful, inside and out. This situation that you’re in now, will not determine you forever. And those affirmations were the same affirmations I placed in the book, because I wanted kids to know even when things happen, that hurt you, it’s not your destiny.”
After starting off in a nursing program, with a minor in health sciences that ultimately carried her passion for helping people, Celina figured out that the area of study she was in, was not for her. She ended up graduating early, as her minor changed to her major and she took interest in being a sex educator.
“I wanted kids to know even when things happen, that hurt you, it’s not your destiny.”
With Georgia being an “Abstinence Only,” state, Celina still wanted to properly educate children so that if it was something they chose to do, they would have access to safety precautions. I always instill in the kids I work with, how education is the one thing no one can take from you. I know that I was not only doing it for myself, but for the people and voices that are often unheard. So that gave me the extra push I needed. It wasn’t just for me, it was for the little girl who maybe couldn’t afford to go to college. The little girl who needed someone to look up to, as to why she should go to college.
Her streak of new opportunities continued to bloom as she got accepted into Savannah State’s social work program, in a GA position, meaning that she would be able to earn her degree for free. Celina dived into the position head first, as it was the chance for her to work around who she targeted her help to, the youth. Just that drive and desire alone with the free education, really motivated me to help the youth. It’s always been a population that has tugged at my heartstrings because it’s our future. We often talk about and critique and belittle the things we see our future doing, but what are we doing to help them? I learned the two greatest teachers are experience and mentors. I want to make sure that I’m a mentor, so that I’m able to teach and affirm them of the values of success and education.
Celina ignites those exact principles of self-love, mentorship and success through her non-profit organization, Raising our Queens (R.O.Q), which goes by the motto “Grow through, what we go through,” a healing mechanism she describes for woman who tend to not realize the importance of the healing process, and will eventually pass those characteristics over to future generations. “Once I had a student tell me while I was interning at a high school, how she didn’t commit suicide because of me. She was going through a lot of things, but because of me and my words, she discovered a new found reason to live. So for me, that was big! When I realized the impact I had on her, I began to imagine all of the other young woman and girls I could have an impact on. So I brainstormed about of a foundation I could create to implement these programs and organizations for girls, and that’s how I founded R.O.Q. It keeps me going and realizing that you never know who is watching. The more you walk in your purpose, the more people you impact, that you never know were being impacted. It keeps me humbled and motivated to want to do more.”
“I learned the two greatest teachers are experience and mentors.”
Last year, R.O.Q gave out two $500 scholarships, with a plan of adding on another this year with the organization’s second annual “Raising Our Queens Scholarship.” With most events occurring in Atlanta, Celina wants to navigate toward placing more in Savannah and Augusta, Georgia, where two of the scholarships will go, and eventually expanding R.O.Q ventures to locations worldwide, so even more black girls are able to benefit from what it offers mentally and physically.
“Note to Self: Affirmations to Young Queens,” has a campaign of its own, as Celina is gearing up to launch a series of “Note to Self” events and book signings, in an effort to get the book into as many hands as possible within our communities. “I am enough is my favorite affirmation of the entire book, that’s why I placed it last and said it three times. It’s something I wish someone told me or that I understood what it meant to be enough at a younger age. I feel as though it would’ve saved me from so many heartaches and disappointments. I want the youth to know that we are enough. Just us, ourselves, are enough. When we realize that we are enough, we’ll stop looking for the pieces that are missing.”
“The more you walk in your purpose, the more people you impact, that you never know were being impacted.”
Celina being an inspiration herself, also finds empowerment through other queens around her. Women like Monica, Michelle Obama, Taraji P.Henson and Issa Rae, to name a few, are the individuals Celina believes are honorable mentions in a time where Black Girl Magic is poppin’ now, more than ever. When I think of a queen, I think of someone who is powerful, who is strong, beautiful on the inside and out, and who possess character and ultimately someone who is resilient. I feel like society has made us feel as though the only way we can make it, is if we compete. I realized there’s strength in numbers, when we combine and uplift. Your weakness can be my strength and vice-versa. So when we come together, and we help one another, ultimately we’re doing more superior things. When we are against one another, both of our weaknesses are still unfulfilled, versus if we come together and help each other out, we’re getting more done. We wouldn’t all have gifts if there wasn’t room for us all, so I feel like once we get into the mindset to realize that, we will really be a force to reckon with. Women will really rule the world.
And don’t worry fellas, Celina wants young kings to know they’re just important as our queens, as she’s the process of drafting the affirmations to young kings book, for boys and men of all ages, to be aware of their greatness and to believe that we’re all capable of being ourselves, while making a difference.
“When we realize that we are enough, we’ll stop looking for the pieces that are missing.”
Be sure to get your very own copy of Celina Monique’s “Note to Self: Affirmations to Young Queens,” here!
Also keep up with her latest projects, ROQ events and positive messages @celinamonique_ on all social media platforms.