One of the best parts of my job is the people I meet while traveling the country to speak. I was recently speaking in Georgia where I had the pleasure of meeting today’s #RealLifeWonderWoman. Simply stated, Erlange Elisme has a heart for children. This past September marked her 30th anniversary in education. That’s a lot of years of serving and advocating for kids of all ages! And she’s not finished yet. She earned her bachelor’s degree (BSW) from Florida Atlantic University and a master’s degree in social work (MSW) from Barry University in Miami, Florida. This Spring, she will graduate from Barry University with a doctoral degree in social work. (Hello Dr. Elisme!) As a certified school social worker, she has practiced in Florida and Metro Atlanta. She also presents workshops on the social-emotional needs of gifted children, cultural diversity, parenting, and trauma-informed care.
Please read on and learn more about real life Wonder Woman Erlange Elisme!
KR: Will you please tell us about what brings you joy and fulfillment?
EE: When I connect with a kid and see them thrive, that brings me joy. I get my whole self to work, insecurity and all. I tell the students that we don’t have to be perfect to be valuable; we all have greatness in us.
KR: Can you tell us about an influential woman in your life and how she inspired you?
EE: My mother. She is the most intelligent person I know. My mom never attended formal school because my grandfather did not believe in educating girls. She is still living with this shame, although she taught herself how to read as an adult. I did not fully understand why we always had relatives living with us until I was much older. It was my mom’s way to give to others what she wanted most, an opportunity to be educated. She opened her doors so others could realize their full potential.
She is a leader, an advocate, and a great businesswoman. She migrated to the Bahamas in search of better opportunities for her eight children. There, she opened her thriving home-based restaurant.
She’s my superhero!
KR: Your mother sounds incredible–to not only teach herself to read, but to relocate and become a self-made businesswoman and restauranteur. What a wonderful role model! Any chance you picked up some cooking skills from your mom? What do you do for fun? Any hobbies (cooking or otherwise)?
EE: Yes, I love to cook and entertain. I also love to dance (it does not necessarily mean I can dance, lol).
KR: Knowing what you know at this stage of your life, what words of wisdom would you give to your 20-year-old self?
EE: It’s OK to be you. It’s OK to take up space, using the words of Tunzi, the South African Miss Universe.
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