I love hearing stories of local greats who didn't necessarily seek out greatness, but just happened to realize it within themselves. Especially when those people now provide inspiration and leadership to the youths in our community, encouraging them to do the same.
Such is the story of Khadija Grant, a dynamic, young, beautiful, intelligent author, entrepreneur and motivational speaker — a phenomenal woman.
Life happened fast for Grant, and navigating through her young adult years was not an easy road.
She was the victim of childhood abuse, and admits that she did not know who she was or what she wanted before becoming a mother.
By age 19 she was married, had an infant on her hip and a second child on the way. Her husband was deployed shortly after they were married and young Grant was left navigating the role of motherhood alone.
It's funny how inspiration can find you wherever you are and in the most unlikely circumstances.
This is exactly what happened to Grant; life forced her to realize her gifts: writing stories and encouraging people.
Through her stories she became a loving caretaker not only for her family but also her community.
It began one day as Grant was bustling around the house, tending to her daily chores. Her husband Kimani called, missing home and longing to see his wife and baby girl. He asked Grant to write him a story so that he could feel closer to them. Feeling helpless to support him, Grant decided to write a story that placed him in the car with his family, listening to his favorite tune.
He loved it so much, he asked for more stories, which led Grant to discover that her stories gave her husband the strength to endure the remainder of his tour in Iraq.
Realizing the impact she had, and her ability to encourage people through storytelling, she went on to write and self-publish The Influenced, a story of the tragedy and triumph of a boy named David, whose life in the projects followed him to the suburbs, which is based loosely on some of Kimani Grant's experiences growing up.
To date, The Influenced has sold more than 600 copies and serves as a captivating read that will hold you until the last page.
In person, listening to Grant talk about her husband is a joy. She completely lights up, and you can hear in her voice that their support of each other is rock-solid, an inspiring love story in and of itself.
Writing has helped her discover purpose, and empowers her to invest knowledge and wisdom in youth who need it most. She credits her husband, mother, father and stepmother for giving her the courage, through their examples, to persevere.
Her eyes are fierce as she says: "I cannot fail."
Today, Grant is the author of four books, with The Influenced 2 (The KG story) set to be released in September. She tours schools citywide to talk to young people about the power of expressing themselves through their gifts and realizing their passions. She recently hosted a "Day and Night" contest at Grant Elementary School, for which students created a video or wrote a 500-word essay on what they are passionate about and what resources they need to pursue their dream. She awarded more than $800 in prizes, including a sewing kit, robotics kit, mannequin head, art set, cooking set, keyboard, camera and instructional classes to help kids achieve their goals.
Discovering the passion to write has so profoundly impacted Grant that she cannot imagine her life without writing, and she works hard to provide resources to under-resourced youths to follow their own ambitions, whatever they may be.
Her advice to any young writer dreaming about being an author of creative stories:
"Just write, let it come from your heart. Whatever you are feeling at the moment, your readers should feel it too. I never know chapter to chapter where I am going, but I believe that my characters are real."
Thank you, Khadija Grant, for sharing your heart with the community.