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

Hi Sarah, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
My work-life balance has extremely changed over time. I used to find myself working ridiculous hours, not making enough time for friends and family, and was unhappy. However, I realized my life does not equal work. Work is a part of my life but it does not define me or my identity. Most recently, I have slowed down and taken time to nourish the relationships around me. I think many people struggle with work-life balance because we live in a fast-paced culture that makes us feel like all we have to offer is our labor. Once I realized that “the work will always be there,” I became much happier with how I balance my time and energy.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I wear quite a few hats because I love staying busy, but to put it simply, I am a 4th-year Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Southern California (USC) studying Urban Education Policy. I defend my dissertation this November to become Doctor Sarah M. Toutant. Before my Ph.D., I also received a Master’s of Education from USC and a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Critical Diversity Studies from the University of San Francisco. Additionally, I am an equity consultant, where I assist companies and organizations looking to understand better how they can create more inclusive equity-minded work environments. I am also a public speaker and have had the pleasure of delivering over 50 talks, keynotes, etc., in various settings.

What sets me apart from others or what I am most proud of is my resilient go-getter attitude. My journey has not been easy, and most of the time, people on the outside looking in only see the highlights and not the struggles. I lost my father six weeks before beginning my Ph.D. program, and it broke me. But, one thing he taught me was to cry, and also how to put myself back together, and that is exactly what I did. Big shoutout to my dad! I will be Dr. Toutant by age 27, and I am beyond proud of myself but especially proud of my community for holding me down. I would not be here without a strong support system that constantly believes in me and pushes me.

I got to where I am today because I have strong relationships with my friends and family who do not let me quit. They uplift me when I need it the most and surround me with love consistently. I want the world to know that strength does not mean hide your emotions. We get our strength from our vulnerability. This lesson has brought me very far in my career and life. Now, I’m excited to see what the next chapter holds.

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.
If my best friend was visiting the area, which she frequently does, we’d hit Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles because she’s obsessed with that place. We’d do dinner at Ocean Prime, STK, BOA Steakhouse, or Javier’s so we could get dressed up and wine and dine ourselves. For a day-type vibe, we might hike in Malibu, hit Santa Monica Pier, or do Jet Skiis in Marina Del Rey, and grab drinks at Cabo Cantina.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I dedicate my shoutout to my sorority sister and long-time mentor, Dr. Garrett-Walker. I would not be the woman I am nor been in the spaces I occupy without her consistently challenging me, encouraging me, and pushing me. I am grateful to know I have her rooting for me. I will be Dr. Toutant this year–in large part because of her. She deserves all the recognition and credit for the love and mentorship she has provided me for the last six years. Thank you.

Instagram: @sarahtoutant

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarahtoutant/

Twitter: @whatsarahsaiddd

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.