We had the good fortune of connecting with Santee Ezell and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Santee, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
My work/life balance has definitely changed over the last few years. The grind culture of being book and busy definitely took a toll on me physically, mentally, and spiritually. I really felt like having a busy schedule was what I needed to be successful, however it was not. I was only busy to avoid the things that I really needed to handle inwardly. My soul and spirit was yearning for peace, rest, and joy NOT just sleep. Unfortunately I didn’t change my life instantly, and it was a process. Through therapy and inner work, I begin to realize I was not content and was comparing my life to others. Perfection led to me not being able to make progress or celebrate the daily wins. I finally begin to say to understand that my strength came from God. I learned that if I didn’t put Him first that I wouldn’t find balance. So I find balance by making sure what I do is important, intentional, and impactful to God. To do that I start and end my day with God, because it sets the tone for the day and night. Finding balance means being intentional about my schedule and incorporating the 7’S into my life. The 7’S are schedule, solitude, sharing, sustenance, spirituality, and sleep. I find balance in each one by incorporating BACE: body care, achievement, connecting with family/friends, and enjoyment. While we may face challenges with work and life balance, we must ENJOY life! The last few years have allowed me to grow by putting God first, connecting to soul, practicing self-care, going to therapy, and understanding the power of NO. Having balance helps you understand that you don’t have to be everywhere or be everything to everyone around. An amazing mentor reminded me last summer that, “What is in your cup is for you and the overflow is for others.” -Dr. Brett Carter So take care of yourself first or you will continue to pour from an empty cup.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Growing up I wanted to be a lawyer and teacher but that changed once I became a senior in high school. During my freshmen year I became interested in Nursing, but I learned quickly it was not for me. In 2006, I became intrigued about Sociology after taking Soc 101 and since then I have enjoyed it. My interest is studying community development, medical sociology, sustainability, and public health. So I would have never thought I would be where I am today nine years ago. My journey has definitely been a unique experience, because most of my positions have been grant funded. I started my professional journey in 2011 as a Diabetes Educator in MS Delta, and it was the most rewarding experience. This grant position gave me the opportunity to work with communities by providing Diabetes prevention education, programs, and resources. Since then, God has placed positions before me to leave it better than I found it. I have had the opportunity to work in the community and on two college campuses. The most difficult challenge was understanding that job was not permanent and a grant funded position. However each experience has allowed me to grow and glow and for that I am grateful. Over the last few years, I have been granted the opportunity to work at MS State University within the Health Promotion and Wellness Department. God has definitely blessed me within the last two years and a half by going from Grant Coordinator, Health & Wellness Educator, to now Assistant Director. I oversee Sexual Assault Services and serve as an Advisor of two student organizations. In addition, I have had the opportunity to work with amazing women across the state through a nonprofit I founded called Black Girls Rock of MS, Inc. We have had the opportunity to work with young girls and women through a community services, programs and activities, fundraisers, and mentorship. It has been an amazing journey for me, and I cannot believe we will celebrate six years in November. I am very grateful for the women who volunteer their time, talent, and treasure to impact young girls and women. While the journey has not been easy as a black nonprofit, we continue to give back to our community and surrounding communities. Since then we have served over 10,000 military troops, families, youth, adults, and communities. The growth has been healthy for me both professional and personal. I have gained new friends, partnerships, and relationships. As a black woman, there are challenges that I have faced. From cultural expectations to bias, but I have had to learn the importance of being my authentic self in spaces. I want every woman to know that there is nothing wrong with building your own table for other women to grow and glow. In addition, be mission driven about what you are good at. Ask yourself, “What are you good at that the world needs more of?. What are you proud of that you can do?, How can I do more of this?” Your personal and professional brand makes you who you are, and only you can fulfill the assignment God has given you. Whether that is through your career or building a business, you are serving others to make a difference. Jeff Bezos is widely quoted as saying, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” So think about what people will say about your brand when you are not in the room. Everything that I am today is because of the blessings of God. Lessons Learned 1.To understand your WHY you must be who God has called you to be. 2.Go from doing to being, because what you do doesn’t define you. 3.Don’t compare your career to anyone else and always do what is best for you. 4.Everything you do is important so be intentional and impactful. 5.Leave every place better than you found it. 6.The greatest person you can ever be is a servant.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love this question, because I am an itinerary type of girl. With my family and kids, I love to try new restaurants and any type of fun entertainment to be adventurous. My best friend and I are definitely alike when it comes to traveling, but I would be the one with the itinerary. I would take off for the week, and we would travel to different destinations to hang out. We would do some canoeing, zip lining, enjoy great food, take a random trip to another state, and of course some football and tailgating. Starkville, MS is a unique place with a few places to enjoy. We would hangout in the Cotton District and Downtown Starkville to enjoy some shopping and walk around. In addition some great restaurants would be WTF (Where The Food At?), Bulldog Burger, Two Brothers, Restaurant Tyler, & Dave’s Dark Horse Tavern, Georgia Blue, and wrap the weekend with tailgate food! A few things to checkout in the local area is the Noxubee Refugee with traveling to Old Mountain Outdoor Adventures for ziplining and Champagne Sunrise for a hot air balloon ride.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to express my gratitude to my family, friends, linesisters, mentors, and colleagues who have been with me throughout this journey. My mother has always reminded me that God has given me an assignment and that is the most important thing that I should work towards. My family and and friends have been wise counsel, sound reason, supportive, and always there to help guide me through the difficult times. In addition, my mentors and colleagues have definitely taught me new things. Shoutout to the home team of Black Girls Rock of MS, Inc., AKA linesisters, amazing mentors, church family, and colleagues who have poured into me. I am standing on the shoulders of every woman before me so thank you for taking the time to support me, because this journey has not been easy. For that I am grateful for everyone who has rooted for me even when I didn’t root for myself. In addition, several books have shaped my life from self-help to spiritual. I am currently reading Stacey Abrams, Lead From the Outside.” As a black woman, I am learning that leadership requires character and courage to catalyze change.

Instagram: froever_freckeled_
Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/santeeezell
Twitter: @SimplySantee
Facebook: San Rashun
Other: Black Girls Rock of MS. Inc. -Facebook page to follow @bgrofms- Instagram

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