Meet Philana Swann of Be-Ruth Foundation (Formerly Ruth4Kids)
‘You’ll never amount to anything.’ are the words that I recall decades later that a teacher said to me in 10th grade. They must have had an impact because the voice that rang those words in my ear have yet to be forgotten.
When I was in my early 20’s, another voice echoed similar words. Words that hurt from someone I met. And trusted.
‘You’re a slow learner.’ Yes, this too became words in the book of my story.
In the midst of these bruises & scars, I earned my bachelor’s degree in Biology. And later, I earned my MBA with a concentration in health services. In the process of earning my Masters Degree; it became important, almost crucial, for me to organize a non-profit geared towards teens in 2009. To help them navigate and arrive at their successful destinations. To show them how to transform dark spaces into workrooms of progress.
Then, 2020. A Global Pandemic. Society is shaken to its core around the globe. I looked around and discovered the purpose of my plight. I hold a strategic position in Public Health. I impact communities around the world. I am
steadfast. Words don’t scare me. I stand strong against invaders that threaten our existence.
Now I can say Thank You. Thank you to the words that tried to hinder my flight. Thank you for strength & courage from the battles. Thank you. Thank God for an inner yearning for the Sciences that put me on a path to here.
Changing the world for the better. Strong. I did amount to something. I became a Butterfly, Anyway!
I stand for STEAM because STEAM stood for me. I am here. Gliding on the wind with scarred wings that turned Sacred. My promise is to empower Teens in avenues of STEM. To mentor. To demonstrate. To encourage. To let them know high flight is theirs despite perceived fears or failures. To show them to use every bit of everything they have & make it benefit their futures. To develop their wings. To Serve. To Soar. To Fly!
It has most definitely not been a smooth road but well worth the ride. There have been many instances where doors have been closed in my face due to me not being a part of the right circles. There has been instances where others haven’t understood the mission or the vision and wanted to discount the very thing that I know what the impact would do for teen girls on the other side because I’ve been through it and it becomes a struggle because you begin to ask yourself is it worth the fight.
Be-Ruth uplifts girls through our extracurricular programs: Empowering through Exposure, Engaging through Mentorship and Educating in STEAM. Girls are transformed. Our grand vision a generation of talented youth girls who
prevail; who are unwavering in using their gifts to succeed in STEAM professions, who champion diversity and who insist on environmental stewardship, who free themselves & free their communities.
Success to me is when you can go to sleep at night with a peace of mind knowing that you have delivered on your promise to not only better yourself but to help others in their process to SOAR. The markers that I look out for are when I see young girls follow the blue print that I’ve laid out for them during their process. It tells me that they trust and respect that I am giving them the right answers and not the answers they want to hear. That’s when I know I’ve succeeded.