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First person, last word: ‘I am deeply connected to paying homage to my ancestors and my community’

Lessons learned lead to future change
October 17, 2022
By Nicole Antoine, BA 10

Nicole has long dark hair and wears a black blazer and light pink earrings Nicole Antoine is the CEO and co-founder of Four Brown Girls, architect of Blaxpo and marketing strategist consultant at N/A & Company Inc. | Photo: Hatrick Mirville

When I think back to my younger self, I really thought I had it all figured out. In reality, I was far from knowing what I wanted, but is that necessarily a bad thing? We get caught up in trying to have all the answers when the universe often has a different plan. 

Prior to enrolling as a university student, my mind was set on becoming a lawyer. I chose an undergrad in history and political science based on that aspiration, rather than evaluating and scoping out any other opportunities available to me. Tunnel vision can be good, but it also requires flexibility. It can become difficult to know when and how to pivot when confronted with an obstacle: How do I know when the universe is redirecting me towards my path of purpose? 

To say that I haven’t been met with my share of rejection and failure would be a lie. Yet I’ve learned to recognize that there were no mistakes, no missteps, no wastes of time. Instead, these became lessons helping to bolster a foundation that would lead and fuel me to something bigger. 

‘The best version of myself’ 

Fast-forward to my 10-plus years following graduation, to where I am now comfortably rooted and empowered as someone with an eclectic background in law, community and marketing, here charting my own path as a changemaker. 

With an amazing village of support and mentorship, I’ve been able to soak up many lessons and tools to perfect my craft. And, while I don’t know where I’ll end up in another 10 years, I can say that I am comforted by the certainty that I’ll be a better human. 

I strive to be the best version of myself and approach every task, no matter how small or seemingly unimportant, with excellence. I am deeply connected to paying homage to my ancestors and my community by making sure that we take back ownership of our culture and our story. 

My most recent project, Blaxpo, is meant to disrupt how the corporate world chooses to see us as Black people, and, more importantly, how we choose to see ourselves. I have unapologetically curated a space, a reliable foundation for the Black community to thrive while unwiring the mindset of not being enough. Not only are we enough, but we are deserving of opportunities that will accelerate our journey towards our passions. 

Blaxpo connects BIPOC [Black, Indigenous and People of Colour] individuals with forward-thinking companies that share a mission and vision of an equitable and diverse workforce. I want to simplify and remove the systemic barriers that so often stand in the way. I want to give the underrepresented a platform that empowers them on their own journeys, careers and livelihoods. 

My rally call is to take up space! It’s okay if our paths aren’t always linear. And it’s okay if we feel uncomfortable. That’s how we can effectively move the dial towards a more equitable and diverse tomorrow.

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