02/22/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 02/22/2021 14:25
Charryse Shell, Management and Program Analyst, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)
I am a Management and Program Analyst in the Office of Policy Analysis and Development at the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). I assist the team by providing day-to-day program and office management. This includes handling the budget, purchasing and travel management, timekeeping, research assistance, interagency meeting coordination, and providing executive assistance to NTIA's Associate Administrator.
I grew up in Capitol Heights, Maryland. Because of rising crime, my family moved to Sterling, Virginia, where I attended Park View High School. It was a culture shock, to say the least! After graduation, I attended St. Paul's College, a small historically black college (HBCU) in rural Lawrenceville, VA, where I studied Marketing and Mass Communications. This school is very near and dear to my heart because it was the only HBCU in Brunswick County, where my maternal grandmother and paternal grandfather were both raised. While at St. Paul's I was able, for the first time, to learn more about my culture in a formal setting and the accomplishments of men like James Solon Russell, who was able to create an educational institution for African Americans in rural, segregated Virginia. Sadly, St. Paul's College closed in 2013, but there are multiple alumni and community efforts to re-open the school and continue its educational tradition.
For me, Black History month is a time to celebrate the vast, far-reaching accomplishments of African Americans here in America and around the world. Notably, the contributions of the everyday men and women who have worked to attain equality and better lives for their community and are often not recognized enough when the story of our history is told. My maternal great-grandfather and grandfather gave their blood, sweat and tears to ensure the longevity of the very thing that defined them: the farm that my family has operated for over 150 years. Originally the farm was full of vegetables, livestock, timber, tobacco, and a sawmill. Today, at the age of 70, my uncle tends to the land, alongside his two sons and grandson (who is studying Agricultural Business at Virginia Tech). He no longer raises livestock and the mill is no longer operational. Therefore, his focus is on tobacco, timber, and his vegetable farm. One day his sons will take over the farm and this tradition will hopefully live on for generations to come.
My family fostered a spirit of service to our community; be it assisting your neighbor, the local food bank, or serving as a pollster for a national election. Helping others is a part of our DNA and being a civil servant is an honor that I believe all federal employees should embrace. The jobs that we do are purposefully designed to support essential missions and assist the American people. But lest we forget, slavery and the years of segregation that followed were not so long ago. During our Nation's history, the rights of African American citizens were not always recognized and many in the Black community relied heavily on coming together to support each other. My great-grandfather was a leader in his community. He was an entrepreneur, an employer, a provider, and a teacher of his trade. He created an American reality in a space where attaining the American dream was not meant for people like him. He passed down his philosophy of hard work, brotherhood, and compassion to his family. We, in turn, continue to pass this on to our children today in honor of him and those like him.
Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting the contributions of Department of Commerce African Americans during Black History Month.