How does the saying go? If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans?
Well let me tell you, I had God cracking up when I scheduled this month’s millennial woman interview before we really knew the impact of COVID19. The original plan was to meet in person, but we had to pivot quickly to chat by video.
Why is this worth 20 minutes of your time?
- Because this millennial woman is beyond inspirational for you as a millennial woman.
- Because this millennial woman will share how you (parent/grandparent, supervisor/manager, professor, aunt/uncle etc.) can get the millennial woman you touch to listen and seek your guidance.
So, I encourage you to sit, get something to drink and read along!
Who is she?
Sharon Y. Freeman, a 31 year old millennial woman, rooting for the girls doing things they were told only boys can do.
Sharon is a loving daughter of Sharon and Lonnie Freeman, an encouraging sister to April and Evelyn, a devoted aunt, and supportive friend. Sharon proudly represents her family (aka her support system) as their first-generation college graduate. Currently residing in East Orange, NJ, Sharon earned her B.S. from New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) where she majored in Construction Management Technology (yes, she did that) and minored in Business Management.
Today, Sharon is the Project Manager (yes, she did that again) for Hunter Roberts Construction Group Affiliations: Women Builders Council (WBC) & Greater Place to Work for Women (GPWW). Since 2005, Hunter Roberts’ professionals have provided construction services for over 1,350 projects valued at over $11 billion. This is currently just one chapter in book of Sharon’s life, let’s explore a few more.
The Dream Chapter
At Sisters Keeping In Touch, inspires (SKIT), we teach millennial women (and those who support her) that one of the keys to living the life of their dream is to envision it often and develop an action plan to make it happen.
Sharon shared the Personal and Professional Life of her Dreams.
I worked my plan to be financially free and build generational wealth. I have always had a Type A (competitive, highly organized, ambitious, impatient, aggressive) personality so when I chose my partner, I chose a man who balanced me out with his lighthearted, funny, and gentle nature.
Together, we have a minivan, 4 boys and girls and 2 dogs.
As a lover of cars, we also own a pick-up and my deep purple luxury 2 seater baby…!
When it comes to the professional life of my dreams…I lived it my entire career as a Project Manager in the male dominated construction field. When I left the field, I left a mark with my Free-Woman Developers constructed high-rise located in Charlotte, NC. I envisioned every detail of this building and oversaw its construction.
The Lessons Learned Chapter
According to Sharon, there were challenges and advantages as she transitioned from the life of a student to an independent millennial woman. A huge advantage was Sharon’s ability to attend college in NJ and build her life in Jersey after. A full scholarship to NJIT allowed this family oriented millennial woman to stay close to home while enjoying the full college experience by living on campus.
On the challenging end, Sharon quickly learned that she just had to figure some things out (cooking, laundry, prioritizing wants and needs, etc.). I knew I was an “adult” when I bought my first mattress. This was reaffirmed years later when I had to make that first student loan payment (by the way 6 months post-graduation, is not enough time).
Well before graduating college, Sharon credits the woman she is today to the experience she had with Mr. Tony Howell, the former Director of the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) at NJIT. The EOP offers academic support, career and personal counseling, to first-time full-time freshmen and transfer students. Sharon shared,
I left college my first time around because I thought life was good until I was faced with the reality that I needed a college degree. I made the mistake of walking away; I literally abandoned my class and my GPA to a major hit. I knew NJIT would not let me re-enroll without the support of EOP to vouch for me but Mr. Howell (aka Papa Howell) said, “No.” I couldn’t believe he actually said No, even though I was in tears.
Mr. Howell told me I had to prove that I was serious by going to county college for a semester and get great grades. He was serious and so was I. I went to county college, got all A’s, and secured a spot on the Dean’s list. It was then and only then that Mr. Howell fought for me to be readmitted into NJIT.
Sharon has learned a few things so far in her life and she shares the following advice for other millennial women and their support systems:
If you are a part of the support system of a millennial woman, be patient with us and step back. This is our life to live and our mistakes to make, it doesn’t help when parents or relatives try to live through us, it just stresses us out and it may even cause us to lose focus on our goals trying to please you. Let us breathe, we will figure things out, just be there if and when we need you.
Now to my millennial sisters, first figure out what you’re hungry for no matter what and go after it because it’s yours. If you’re still in school and your grades aren’t perfect continue to do your best and know you can still get a great job after college like I did. If you have to start the process over again, no big deal, just start over. I was always told it’s not when you finish that is important but that you actually finish.
The Relationship Chapter
At SKIT, we believe it is valuable for millennial women to find mentors (formal/informal) to guide and support her in life. We define mentors as anyone (male, female, rich, poor, near or far) who wants to positively impact the life of a millennial woman and see her win. Sharon shared her mentor thoughts and experience.
At work I have a professional mentor because there was so much to learn. Beyond work, he inspired me to be financially free. He has multiple rental properties, no mortgage and recently bought a brand new car in cash. Since then I try to find additional mentors experienced in building generational wealth.
Ideally, I would like to find a successful person of color in the construction industry to mentor me. There are some challenges I face as a woman of color in the white male dominated construction field that I feel another person of color can help me navigate through. However, a mentor of any race or career field can be beneficial provided they can guide me and enhance the qualities I already have.
According to Psychology Today, a key finding from a major study of adults’ lives was that those who had close, long-term friends fared better than those who were less social. Close friendships enhanced moods and functioning as well as emotional and physical health. At SKIT, we also believe in the value of good healthy friendships. Sharon happily shared the role friendships have played in her life.
I cherish my friendships. As an adult, it is extremely hard to make friends, but I have friendships from elementary school and various organizations in college that I have maintained. At the same time, I have had to let go of other friendships even though it hurts because it was just too painful to hold on. I now understand its part of the growing process.
The ones that have lasted, root for me and I root for them. One of my close friends I still have today was in Kindergarten with me. I lost touch with her for years and then faith reconnected us and we have been inseparable ever since. I have also maintained a friendship with my first college roommate, she is now one of my trusted voices of reason when needed anytime of the day.
As it pertains to romantic relationships, we again turned to Psychology Today as our foundation about why relationships even matter. In this process, we learned that there are many kinds of love, but many people seek its expression in a romantic relationship with a compatible partner (or partners) and while the need for human connection appears to be innate…the ability to form healthy, loving relationships is learned. At SKIT, we teach millennial women about the importance of choosing a partner that will help her build the personal and professional life of her dreams.
Dating…whew, I’ve had my own growing pains. In the beginning of this dating game, the most challenging part was trying to predict if this stranger had the potential to be my partner for life. But today, I know what I want in life and I know what I will and will not allow. I am clear I have a partner who shares the things I want in life and who is willing to team up with me to make it happen.
The Final Chapter
Sharon shared some final thoughts on topics every millennial woman should be thinking about.
Money is very important and I’m not ashamed to say it. It can’t buy you happiness, but it can make things easier. It can provide generational wealth and so much more. I am money minded and believe in having it work for me through my 401K, stock purchases and real estate investment.
My greatest fear is not having a legacy of my own because the life I build may all be for nothing.
My greatest hope is having children of my own and passing down all of my life lessons and accomplishments to them.
I’ll leave you all with this, Sharon said, my process to become a Project Manager as a 5’3” woman of color in the “old school” construction industry was easy and impossible at times. I worked not one but two full-time jobs to before I began my career. In college, I applied to internships for years and I didn’t get one until the summer before I graduated college. That internship was with Hunter Roberts, they saw value in me, and I saw value in them event to this day.
I am an example that anything is possible, find what you’re passionate about, go after it and don’t give up until you get it. Some days I genuinely cannot believe this is my life. I am the first person in the family to graduate college, I work in New York City, I bought my first investment property before the age of 30, and I drive a luxury car.
Hard work truly pays off. So, replace being perfect with having perseverance and get it done.
SKIT Closing: Connect and Support Sharon
It is my/our hope that you have been inspired by this window into millennial woman, Sharon Freeman’s life. I am confident that she will live the personal and professional life of her dreams. Sharon is well on her way and ready to bring her family along with her. Together, we hope her story thus far will encourage you to define you as you live your life and/or support a millennial woman in your life!!!
Contact and Encourage Sharon Freeman on Instagram @ShayYayFree