We had the good fortune of connecting with Seneca Wilson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Seneca, as a parent, what do you feel is the most meaningful thing you’ve done for them?
For me, I believe it is being actively present with unconditional love. Growing up without a father in my life, I still struggle.
Living in the projects for over 20 years of my life, I used to feel like life dealt me an unfair hand. I was born into poverty with a single mom who was struggling to work a dead-end job and doing her best to raise her kids. The absence of a father had a huge impact on my life because I always felt lost, incomplete, and confused.
It was extremely difficult experiencing moments for the first time without my father in my life. Simple things like learning how to ride a bike, playing sports, shaving, or just talking to a girl I like were challenging for me. And for most of my life I lacked confidence and felt uneducated and unsure of myself.
Overall, I felt like I was never good enough in almost every area in my life. I felt like I wasn’t good enough to have a wife and a family. I felt like I wasn’t good enough to own a home with a backyard. I felt like I wasn’t good enough to attend college and graduate. I felt like I wasn’t good enough for a successful career. I felt like I wasn’t good enough to be wealthy. I felt like I was never good enough to be the true me. The absence of my father made me feel like I was a failure and that I wasn’t good enough to fulfill my purpose.
That is why I believe being actively present and showing up with love is so vital to my children, Tylan, Declan and Sloane. Everyday, I affirm them that they are good enough to do what they love. I want them to know their goals, dreams and purpose are possible. I want them to know that abundance is not a privilege, it is right, and they deserve to live in their light!
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I am a speaker, author, educator, and poet. I am on a mission to empower young students to overcome barriers in their life by using Sports, Hip-hop, Inspiration and Poetry (SHIP) to ensure college and career readiness and success.
My business is Building Better Schools LLC. Building Better is a year-round educational program that offers a robust comprehensive social and emotional learning experience for students to improve their way of living.
Our mission is to engage and connect students with other students, mentors, and resources to ensure college and career readiness and success by providing educational systems, consultation, and training for students to have a smooth transition to college and a career. We provide education through presentations, workshops, seminars, and conferences to improve student experience. We serve students, teachers and educators, coaches, administrators, and parents.
What I am most excited about is that we get the chance to impact the lives of so many students. We get to educate, engage and develop students to be ready for college and a career. I wasn’t prepared for college or a career, and I just want to be able to give back what I didn’t receive when I was younger. I want to prevent a child from growing up and saying, “man, I wish I knew this when I was younger”.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I have lived in the Birmingham, Alabama area for over four years, and I absolutely love this place. The history, the culture, the food, and the richness of Birmingham has that “feel good” emotion that most people want to call home. There are so many places we would go starting with the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum and Sloss Furnace to learn more about the city. We would go to some of the local events and experience the power of food trucks, which is big in Birmingham. We would go eat at places like Yo Mama, Taco Mama, and the Essential to experience the deliciousness of Birmingham. If it was the week of the World Games, we are definitely going to experience those events as well. Birmingham is happening and a great place to live. It is so great that I wrote a poem about it, and was recognized by Mayor Randall Woodfin, The City of Birmingham, and was placed in the Birmingham’s Museum of Arts.
Here is the poem – (a love letter to) The Magic City
We celebrate 150 years of this city
Where magic lives in this city
There’s laughter, hope, power
And this city loves hard
Like the iron and steel it was built on
And still strong
Because this city is built to last
Like the corner of 16th street
Like the movement of April 16 ‘63
Like the home of diversity
Like the city’s heartbeat
This city is vibrant and colorful with a sweet taste of culture
Blessed from a Vulcan
With fire to blaze this city
Legends are made in this city
Classic’s are played in this city
You can feel the 99 voices that raised this city
And this city gave a promise to the children downtown and across the other side of the railroad
To achieve a dream of reality in this city
And like family, this city will continue build
Rise and thrive
This is the Magic City
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
You have 18,632 days left on this earth. What are you going to do with the rest of them?
That question turned on a light in my head for the first time in my life. It was January 27, 2003 when Dr. Dennis Kimbro gave a motivational speech at a conference to a group of 150 emerging students. You could hear the silence in the room as he asked that question. For me, it was like I had finally paid the light bill and Dr. Kimbro worked for the electric company. He was the electrician who came to make the connection in my mind. Can you imagine me counting on my fingers? I thought to myself, 18,632 days is not a lot of days to have left.
When I was younger, my only goal in life was to be the first person in my family and my neighborhood to graduate from a four-year university. My mother was a single mom with four kids. We never had much, but we had love. We lived in Charles Warner Projects in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Though the projects are supposed to be temporary housing, we somehow managed to make it home for more than 20 years.
Living in the projects taught me how to overcome barriers in my life, how to deal with adversity, how to survive. But I learned how to love from my mom. Like I said, we didn’t have much, especially during Christmas and other holidays, but my mother always found ways to give gifts to other kids who had even less. She baked cakes for other kids’ birthdays in the neighborhood. My Mom’s motto is, “Baby if you got it, give it; but if you can’t, there is nothing you can do.” I didn’t understand it then, but I do now. I love my mother and I always wanted to make her proud, so I went to the University of Southern Mississippi (USM).
I made it to college, but I didn’t have the slightest clue of what I was doing until I met my boss, Chris McGee. Chris was the assistant director of facilities for the campus recreation center at USM, and he gave me my first job as a college student as a facility supervisor of the Payne Center. At work one day; Chris looked at me and said, “Boy! What are you going to do with the rest of your life?” I did not have an answer, so Chris took me under his wing, molded me into a professional, and introduced me to the field of campus recreation. Chris would take me to conferences for my student development. It was at my first conference that I met Dr. Dennis Kimbro, the mental electrician. Ever since that day in January, I knew I wanted to be a mental electrician, too.
Following the formative example set by my mom, I want to give back. Like Dr. Dennis Kimbro, I want to turn on other people’s light. Like my boss, Chris McGee, I want to create that aha moment, a paradigm shift, a moment of truth, where I inspire people to create action. And that is what I want to do for you. I want to be your mental electrician.