When Shemicia Bowen graduated from Virginia State University, she says she felt ready to tackle anything. But even the experiences of being a single mother while working her way through college didn’t prepare her for the corporate world.
“I worked in environments that didn’t look like anything I experienced before,” Bowen says — “all the stuff that happens after a person tells you to write a really great résumé.”
Bowen climbed the ladder in the telecommunications industry with support from the Urban League of Greater Richmond Young Professionals, an organization whose goal is to develop young community leaders beyond their 9-to-5 lives. Through her roles in various leadership positions, Bowen has pushed the organization to engage politicians in candidate forums while leading voter registration drives.
“Some of the big things that happen in Richmond — and the decisions — come out of a good ol’ boys network,” Bowen says. “It’s been the same set of politicians and the same group of powerful families for many years. The gatekeepers are loosening, up and we must continue to put young energy into the city.”
Bowen remains committed to empowering younger people to get involved in their communities. Through the Queendom Project, which began in 2000, she works with young women on navigating careers and life in the ways she wished had been available to her. She was a presenter during forums at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in April, and in January plans to offer a workshop in Alabama.
“I feel like it’s my responsibility,” Bowen says of the initiative. “I didn’t want to be one of those girls who took the wrong path. This is what I was destined to do.”