Community Columnists

How Warren native Erica Royster is empowering the city’s next generation of leaders

Erica Royster
Erica Royster (Facebook)

When it comes to being a leader and securing financial freedom, Black women often must bear the weight of systemic racism and its vestiges of poverty and decreased access. One Warren native and Independent Medicare Specialist Erica Royster is using these challenges to not only create her own career path, but advance the success of youths in her community.

Mentoring the next generation

Royster has mentored more than 100 youths and has no plans of stopping.

Though she was pregnant at 16 years old, she did not let that deter her ambition and will to succeed. She enrolled in a class providing resources and training for young expecting mothers and, with the help of a former teacher, reached her goal of receiving a high school diploma. It was that experience that has shaped her pursuit to support young people in her community, she said.

“God gives me opportunities to do stuff and I just follow through with what he got,” Royster said.

What inspired her resilience during difficult times, she recalls, was the support and acceptance she received growing up in Warren. From riding bikes with cousins to getting her favorite Popsicle from local corner stores, her community shaped her confidence and self esteem. Her goal is to revive that spirit in young people who are facing insurmountable hurdles.

“I think young people were more accepted and valued when I was a child, [compared to] now,” she said.

Through her journey of being active in the community, Royster faced some discouragement. However, she’s seen some changes in the way Warren natives behave.

“I see Warren trying. I think it’s some people who really care to try. And I think that’s very important. Because if you don’t try you’ll never get anything,” she added.

Over the years, she used her own challenges to mentor and give back to her community. She keeps faith in her work, and strives to play a significant role in the empowerment of Warren through her passion driving career and professional development for the next generation. .

African-Americans’ business challenges

According to a report from WCPO in CIncinnati, 49% of working Black women earn less than $15 an hour, compared to 27% for their white female counterparts; and 32% of Black women with a bachelor’s degree earn less than $15 an hour.

None of those findings startled Royster, who sees financing as one of the greatest barriers for African-American businesses. Using her own career as a guidepost, she provides information and resources to help people plan for retirement, employee retention, benefit strategies and more.

There are many businesses being started in the area, along with a lot of people working together. However, the lack of knowledge on financial literacy is what Royster believes Black businesses lack support in, along with access to funding.

“Black businesses need more financial literacy about how a business works, and how you actually get there,” she said.

Business is one of Royster’s strong suits. She enjoys providing knowledge and helping people connect with other businesses and resources to build their enterprises. She gives back by guiding and teaching them the importance of organization and operations.

Improving the health of Warren’s most vulnerable

Royster has a lot ahead of her. Dedicated to excelling and being the decider of her own fate, she has become an advocate combating local infant mortality rates among African-American families and being able to provide adequate health care for pregnant women. She hopes to bridge the gap between the younger generation and the older generation.

To learn more and keep in touch with Royster, follow her on Facebook.

The recent advancement of women, especially African-American women into higher education and key leadership roles has been welcomed by many and seen as a positive sign of change. Over the years, African-American women have had access to higher education, leading them to shatter the glass ceiling and advance in their respective careers.

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