23-year-old Dylesia Hampton holds many titles: author, motivational speaker, poet, therapist, and co-founder of Vincent Butts Foundation. It's rare to find someone so young that has the dedication and laser focus to turn their dreams into reality. She has perservered through challenges and setbacks with endless grace and positivity. This self-titled 'learned extrover' shows age is no excuse for not achieving your goals.
Question 1: What’s your educational background?
June 2014 Edition
I have a Bachelor’s degree in Communication from Old Dominion University. Also, I obtained a Master of Social Work degree from Norfolk State University. I am currently taking online courses to become a certified wedding and event planner.
Question 2: What has been your career path to this point?
Currently, I have 2 jobs. I provide in-home therapy to children and their families and I also work in a private practice providing therapy to people with a variety of issues including relational and occupational difficulties and mild depression.
Recently, I resigned from two positions in which I dealt with acutely psychotic patients dealing with issues such as bi-polar and schizophrenia.
Question 3: What motivated you to pursue a career in therapy?
I have always wanted to help people. I really love communicating with people. When I was about to graduate from undergrad, I had to pick a class in inter-disciplinary studies. I chose “Violence in the World of Children.” This exposed me to many different facets of social work and the various career paths I could pursue. My interest led me to apply to Norfolk State’s Social Work Master’s program. I realized I wanted to help people with relationships. Also, I realized I had been doing therapy on myself for years. Everything I have been through caused me to develop amazing coping mechanisms. There are several things I teach my clients that I have been doing for years.
Question 4: What achievements are you most proud of?
At 21, I wrote and published a book. My first book was a compilation of quotes that I sent out via text to my close family and friends. At the age of 15, after I got raped, I started sending out inspirational texts. The best way for me to cope with what happened was helping and encouraging other people. In 2011, after 7 years of sending these inspirational messages I decided to write a book. Secondly, I am proud I achieved my Masters degree, which allows me to practice therapy. Finally, I am proud to have left Virginia and managed to survive on my own.
Question 5: What's your favorite book?
Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge.
Question 6: What are you currently listening to?
I'm definitely enjoying Andre 3000's recent collaborations. Everyone laughs because I'm a HUGE Lil' Wayne fan! Some of my other favorites are Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Big K.R.I.T., and Schoolboy Q. Other than that, I prefer R&B from 90's/early 2000's.
Question 7: What are some of the challenges you've faced?
My major challenge is being accepted by my colleagues, due to my age. I regularly find that older women working in my field or in fields that require interdisciplinary work with those in my field—particularly African American women—aren’t receptive to younger people working in my field. My biggest challenge is finding support and being accepted.
Question 8: You’re poet but you have battled with performing your poetry. What do you think is holding you back?
I have spoken in front of hundreds of people, but when you are sharing such a large part of your story its difficult. I see my poetry as literally pieces of my soul. Time has been another challenge; at one time I had 4 jobs. However, I will be attending an open mic night in the coming weeks in the hope of conquering my fear.
Question 9: You've achieved so much at a young age. What do you attribute this to?
Everybody has a reason for what they do. My reason for being strong and continuing to accomplish everything I have is because statistically, I wasn’t supposed to be anything based on my background. What people think of what would be destined for me, based on background pushes me to achieve.
Question 10: You co-founded the Vincent Butts Foundation. Can you explain your motivations for this?
In 2011, Vincent Butts one of my closet friends died. He was such an amazing person. At the time of his death, his fiancé was pregnant. As a result, I came up with idea of creating an organization, which helps children that have lost their parents due to death. In many ways, at times I felt I didn’t have parents due to a strained relationship with my mother and there being a large age gap between myself and my father. He’s 50 years older than me and I’ve had difficulty emotionally connecting with him. I love both of my parents and know they did the best they could with raising me, but I can also empathize with those who feel
alone and unguided in that context.
Question 11: What's one thing you wish you could tell your 16 year old self?
“Leave him alone.” We get so wrapped up in relationships! I’ve stayed in destructive relationships for as long as 5 years.
Question 12: What has been your biggest mistake?
Most of my mistakes have been financial. It has been hard to change and break the cycle, as most people in my family are broke. It’s been a struggle to overcome that. I advise all young women to budget!
Question 13: What's the best piece of advice you have received?
I am a very self-aware person so I try to learn from all my experiences. The best piece of advice I have learned from personal experience is some relationships are not supposed to be mended. We let people mistreat us because of the titles they hold. We are quick to cut of friends but we stay in the pattern of abuse from family members. You need to know who needs to be loved from a distance.
Question 14: What advice do you have for women who want to follow in your footsteps?
Don’t get distracted - Don’t get emotionally distracted! Don’t get distracted by family, negativity or resources. Get up and keep moving regardless of what’s going on.
Question 15: What is your plan for the next 5 years?
In 2015, I hope to start pursuing a PhD in Clinical Sexology. I want to eventually focus solely on marriage therapy and 2 of the biggest reasons why marriages fail are money and sex. I was raped so I know how hard it can be to sexually open up to someone. I really want to give people who were raped a voice. I want to help educate partners and victims. My overall goal is to have my own marriage & family therapy practice and deliver community events geared towards African Americans. I want us to get back to having stable family structures. I feel this can be done through educating people about our history. I truly believe the reason why we are so disconnected is because we don’t know who we are.
I also plan to finish several writing projects within the next five years. My next solo project will focus on my personal life and it will have a lot of therapeutic content. I want to share my education in my writing. I want my book to discuss my real life challenges and to have practical tools, which can help people.
Question 16: What's your definition of success?
Happiness. Success is internal. I don’t think money equals success. Success has nothing to do with your material possessions. It’s about what drives you and keeps you sane in the midst of an insane life.
Question 17: How are you empowering young girls and women in your environment?
In my current job, providing in-home therapy I work with a lot of young females. I try my best to be a role model. Also, I send out daily inspirational texts that several young women receive. I use social networks e.g. Instagram and Twitter to inspire people and spread positivity.