photography: Joseph Gray @moneygray

photography: Joseph Gray @moneygray

About

Hi, I'm Cheyenne! Thanks for stopping by...

Welcome to The Level Up, my personal blog! I want to say "I'm so glad you're here", but it doesn't feel sincere enough. This blog represents a collection of my thoughts, ideas, experiences, opinions, and passions, nicely packaged such that I can share it all with YOU!

 

 
“Big moments come when you least expect them.”

I returned to my hometown of Chicago after graduating, and worked for several years as a proposal writer and project manager. In late 2014, I was offered a great opportunity with an education nonprofit based in Boston, MA and picked up and moved my entire life to New England. Everything was new to me, and while I've always openly embraced new and unfamiliar experiences, Boston was severely lacking in the culture and diversity I'd been used to and preferred. Halfway through 2016, an opportunity was presented to me by a former colleague at work to be a speaker at TEDx Beacon Street in Brookline, MA. I joked around that I've give a TED talk one day about black women's hair, a topic that I loved and knew a lot about. I never thought I'd actually do it, but big moments come when you least expect them. 

 A Celebration of Natural Hair | TEDx Beacon Street 2016

A Celebration of Natural Hair | TEDx Beacon Street 2016

I delivered my TEDx talk on the history and impact of hair type and texture in the black community in November 2016. It received a standing ovation from a majority white audience and I was shocked to say the least. I had a real case of imposter syndrome leading up to this moment, and had no idea how my words would be received by the "intellectual" TED audience. One month later, I was informed that my talk was one of three out of roughly 100 speakers that was selected to be featured on TED.com. In July 2017, it went live on TED's homepage, and today it has over 1.3 million views, and has been transcribed into 14 different languages.