The Teen Appeal

Giving truth to Memphis youth

What I’m doing now: Teen Appeal Alumni

Teen Appeal Alumna Tai Stanback

Teen Appeal Alumna Tai Stanback

By Tameka Rodgers and Akua Oppong 

Memphis Health Careers Academy and White Station High School

What are you doing today in preparation for when you graduate from high school?

Three former Teen Appeal staffers came to speak of their achievements since their time at the newspaper. Not all of them have continued in journalism, but they all gave great advice on how writing does come into play in any career that you may choose.

Teen Appeal Alumna Alisha Tilley Photo by  Eboni Johnson.

Teen Appeal Alumna Alisha Tilley Photo by Eboni Johnson.

Alisha Tillery, who works on the “My Education Matters” campaign, is a 1999 graduate of Central High School and 2003 graduate of Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College in Baton Rouge, La. She tells her story starting with the fact that she earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism.

“I’m always writing all day, every day,” she said.

Tillery spoke of how she always loved writing and how she started at an early age. By 2003, she was a graduate student and public relations intern at Louisiana State University Women’s Center.

The next year, she became a communications manager at The Mid-South Food Bank. She was responsible for the day-to-day media relations including event planning and volunteer coordination.

Teen Appeal Alumna Shayla Lawrence Photo by  Eboni Johnson.

Teen Appeal Alumna Shayla Lawrence Photo by Eboni Johnson.

Another Teen Appeal alumna who spoke was Shayla Lawrence.

In 2003 Lawrence was a senior at Wooddale High School, when she decided to join the Teen Appeal staff.

When she started her college life, her mind was set on journalism. But as time progressed, she went for a different path. During her junior year in college at the University of Memphis, she took a public health class. From that day on, she was focused on maintaining a health career.

She also decided to take Spanish classes while in college.

By 2007, she started working in the health field. In February of 2008, she became a Bilingual Public Health Specialist. She would provide health education to groups of various demographics.

Lawrence has participated in numerous educational events for Spanish-speaking women of Shelby County. Her topics were mostly maternal health, childcare and nutrition.

Lawrence said that writing is still something she does every day although she decided to not pursue that as a career.

Lastly, Taiwo “Tai” Stanback, a Teen Appeal alumna and 2006 Yale University graduate, said her passions were writing and photography. (Stanback graduated from Ridgeway High School in 2001.)

Beginning with her elementary school newspaper, Stanback’s passion for writing continued into her first job working for the Tri-State Defender, as a teenager

Today Stanback uses her communication skills in a different way, by working as a community outreach specialist for U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen.

“Congressman Cohen remembered my works because of the Teen Appeal” she said. “I urge you to take advantage of all opportunities.”

Although Tillery, Lawrence, and Stanback all have chosen different career paths, they attribute their successes in part to the Teen Appeal.


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