Motivational speaker, author, and therapist, Dr. Saniyyah Mayo has overcome many obstacles throughout her life and has used those experiences not only as stepping stones to her own success, but also has shared her experiences to motivate others to reach for higher ground.
Dr. Mayo has accomplished this through her work as a high school counselor, through public speaking engagements, authoring books, and other outreach efforts, including the Girls’ Gossip Network, a community which seeks to empower youth and women. Her message to young people: “Tap into your passion and you will find your purpose.”
Dr. Mayo recently released her second publication, Transition of a Butterfly. Looking through the eyes of a sixteen-year-old girl, it explores issues faced by young people and stresses the importance of not allowing one’s past to determine their future. Her first book, Identifying and Breaking the Cycle, is a valuable resource for anyone in need of a helping hand or for anyone who can benefit from being made aware of destructive behavior before it gets out of hand. Both books are available online at www.amazon.com.
Raised in the Inland Empire, Dr. Mayo fell in love with writing when she was given a haiku assignment in elementary school. “Poetry is my first love,” she admitted during an interview with the Black Voice News.
Despite her current success, when she was twelve years old, her young life was shattered when she lost her sixteen-year-old brother in an accident. His death weighed heavily on her young heart. “From 12 to 19 years-old, I made myself believe he was at his friend’s house and not dead,” she confided. “At 19, I realized he was dead. It was the first time I broke down and really cried.”
After losing her brother, Dr. Mayo described how she became angry, joined a gang, and had her daughter at the age of 16. “But, having my daughter was a good thing. I don’t promote teen pregnancy,” she stressed. “But, it made me look at my life, to do better for my daughter.”
After the birth of her daughter, Dr. Mayo earned a GED and went on to earn a Master’ Degree in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy. She was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Philosophy and Humanities. When asked whether being an author, motivational speaker, or therapist is her greatest passion, she replied, “All of them are, for various reasons. Writing, speaking, and therapy are all my passions because I love to empower people.”
She went on to explain that you can never really change anything until you tackle it in your mind first. “So, you have to reach people where they are thinking,” she explained. This doesn’t always happen. “I had a professor who was very intelligent, but I and others in the class were not getting it. We wanted him to dumb it down. It doesn’t matter how intelligent you are, you have to meet people where they are.”
Dr. Mayo went on to explain another realization. “I volunteered for years working with the youth at my church. It made me realize most problems people had were in the home. I started praying and I realized to impact people, I had to get to them when they were young.” When the thoughts of being a therapist became clearer to her, “I embarked on the journey of becoming a therapist. I started to see how the things you go through as a kid play out in your adult life.”
She shared that her parents never told her how beautiful she was and stressed that positive reinforcement matters in identifying and breaking cycles in one’s life. Transition of a Butterfly showcases cycles, and shows how those cycles can play out in one’s life.
When commenting about her experience as a motivational speaker Dr. Mayo noted, “When I was growing up, I hated my voice. I thought I sounded like a boy.” As an undergraduate in a communications class, however, presentations were required, and her classmates always asked her to be the speaker, “Because they thought I was a really good speaker.” But, according to Dr. Mayo, it was not until she spoke at church and received similar feedback that she realized she had a gift. “In grad school I found my niche,” she proclaimed. She realized she needed to reach large audiences. “My purpose is to provoke thought, to openly change the behavior of people.”
All three of her passions, writing, speaking, and therapy, are intimately connected in her work. In discussing her journey in pursuit of her passions, she confirmed, “Nothing is easy, but when you have passion and purpose, even though it comes with challenges, if you keep pushing there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Dr. Mayo’s work is clearly about impact. “It is not about the numbers,” she stressed. “It’s about how I can impact one person because that one person can impact a million people in social media. We are so focused on the numbers,” she noted. “Focus on the impact, not the numbers.”
To learn more about Dr. Mayo, her writing, and her work visit http://www.saniyyahmayo.com/ .