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

Hi Toya, how do you think about risk?
Muhammad Ali once said, “He (she) who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” What is the true quality of a life without risk? How can an individual be challenged or stretched in the most minute way without taking risks? Where will one find a zen and harmony within themselves without risk? It is a necessary ingredient to the advancement of anything. Risk is like the flour to a cake. There is an understanding that it may get a bit messy. The taste is not pleasant alone, but it is vital to the final result. Sometimes the final product is one you are proud of and other times not so much. Either way you learn and develop from the risk you took. All of my success and failures have been a result of taking risks. Even with my failures, there has always been a lesson that sets me up to take on another risk. I believe there is a sense of developmental immortality associated with risk taking. You will either succeed, learn, and progress or fail, learn, and progress. With either result, your growth and progress never goes void if properly applied. The application of both will always produce a winner, a conquer, and a risk taker.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a Registered Nurse and currently working as travel nurse in the City of Angeles. In 2014, I graduated from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC. My first job as a new graduate nurse was at Duke Medical Center where I worked in the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit. It was challenging, but by far the best learning experience I could have asked for as a new nurse. After two years at Duke, I started my travel nursing career. I did one thirteen week contract in Charlotte, NC and ventured off to where my heart has always been set on, the West! I have been in Los Angeles for three years. I am the most proud of my adaptability and growth over the past three years. Travel nursing really challenges not only your ability to adapt to the difference in the provision of care from one hospital system to the next, but it also molds and stretches you professionally. Nursing was not an easy route. I already had a previous bachelors degree in Exercise Science. When I started my bachelors program in nursing, I was still enrolled in a Masters program at The Citadel. I completed both schools (in person) simultaneously. Being a student presented more financial challenges than I can list and moving to Los Angeles, CA on a new nurse’s North Carolina salary was quite the journey to say the least. In the midst of this, I serve as a Flight Nurse in the United States Air Force and incorporated my nonprofit, The #FREE Foundation which is based in South Carolina, where I am from. With all of the accomplishments, the core of me is a servant. This is where the #FREE Foundation was birthed. It is a 501(c)(3) organization with the mission to fortify African American communities through Fellowship, Resources, Education, and Empowerment. While the things I do at the bedside are rewarding, the opportunities I get to serve black communities through The #FREE Foundation continues to be the pulse of my being. The lessons I learned go back to taking risks. There is nothing beyond your reach. It is a principle I am still “exercising” daily. Some of the most simple phrases are ones that continue to stick with me and motivate me. “Just Do It”, like Nike and most importantly to me “God is Dope”, a brand created by Sharod Simpson but truly outlines all of my success.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
As soon as my best friend lands in LA, the very first place we are going to is Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, specifically the Manchester-LAX location. I have been a loyal customer since moving to LA. LA is very spread out with traffic you would not believe. Commuting and being a tourist definitely takes strategy. Since we are near the airport, we could start with the southern parts of LA. Strand House in Manhattan Beach gives awesome views of the ocean and delicious food and it is a quick walk straight to the shores of the ocean. I am from South Carolina so Dulan’s and Bayou Creole in Inglewood satisfy my southern taste buds. LA is full of hikes with great views. Of course Runyon Canyon is a tourist “must see”, but places like Rancho Palos Verdes, Culver City Stairs, and Coldwater Canyon Park offer a great workout and nice scenic views along the way. Brunch here in LA is a must. Castaway in Burbank and all the way down to Ysabel in West Hollywood are beautiful places with delicious menus. As the great Tupac said, “California knows how to party.” This is true. If you want to combine brunch and music that will have you moving the entire time, Brunch 2 Bomb on a Sunday never disappoints. I love live music. The Sayers Club on a Friday night gives just the right ambiance or The Living Room on Crenshaw on any given day. While Hollywood Blvd and Downtown LA are tourist attractions, the City of Angels has so much more to offer. With the right planning, you are destined to have a good time.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Shelkecia Lessington with The Choose T.R.U.E. Project

Website: www.hashtagfreefoundation.org
Instagram: @thehashtagfreefoundation
Linkedin: Toya Williams
Facebook: The #FREE Foundation

Image Credits
KT Photography and Katrina S. Crawford Photography

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