Latesha Higgs, a Baltimore native, is an author, teacher, podcaster and mental health advocate. She was initiated into Phi Kappa Phi at Mercer University, where she recently graduated with a master’s in educational leadership.
In 2016, Latesha founded a non-profit to better women and girls in underserved communities through youth development programs, coaching, mentoring, and support services. She is passionate about serving her community and is a trainer for several National
Alliance on Mental Illness programs. She also volunteers with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and with local shelters for the homeless and displaced veterans.
Latesha teaches fifth grade within the Clayton County Public School system in the Atlanta metro area and serves on the Budget Advisory and District Advisory Councils for the school system. In 2019, under the leadership of psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Hale,
the Special Advisor to the Office of the President at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Latesha was one of the founding members of the Congregational Depression Awareness Program in Baltimore, Maryland.
“I have won several community words for the work I have done, yet words alone still cannot explain how fulfilled, overjoyed, and at peace I am when I am helping and advocating for others.”
Let’s get to know Latesha!
Why did you accept the invitation to join Phi Kappa Phi?
I love that PKP members continue to volunteer in their communities long after graduation. I'm looking forward to networking with members and gaining new strategies and skills that I can use to further my career. I believe that membership in PKP will help open doors and opportunities for me to better serve and advocate for others.
Where does your passion for mental health come from?
I lost my only brother to suicide when he was 14 and was deeply troubled and angry that the subject of his death became taboo in my family, church, and community. I was eventually diagnosed with a mental health condition as well, and learning to navigate the stigma I experienced led me to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI gave me the confidence to accept my condition and advocate for others. As a NAMI speaker, I am always humbled by the number of people who feel comfortable enough to approach and thank me for giving them the courage to fight similar stigmas and share their stories.
What is your favorite thing about your hometown?
Oh, that's easy—egg custard snowballs and crabs! I grew up in Baltimore City, and buying a snowball is a treat that every city kid loves in the summer. A Baltimore favorite is the egg custard flavor, and I really can’t describe the taste, it is mmm,..mmm good! Now that I live in Georgia, I miss eating crabs with friends. You have to crack open what feels like a million crabs just to get full, but the fellowship with others while doing so is priceless.
What’s the best vacation you’ve ever been on?
My favorite vacation was to Cancun, Mexico. I enjoyed breakfast on the beach, meeting the locals, and trying new dishes. I'm a geek about exploring historical places, so you can imagine how excited I was when we took a bus to visit Tulum Xel-Há.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am most proud of launching a non-profit. It is definitely hard work but so rewarding and fulfilling. We're still a very small organization, but I have big dreams and plans for us to go global! I want to launch a chapter of The DIVA Effect, Inc in every underserved community to eliminate barriers to resources and opportunities for the less fortunate while helping develop ways to strengthen the communities.
What is your favorite holiday?
I absolutely love cooking big meals and the fellowship with those near and dear during Thanksgiving. The laughs, stories shared, and games played bring me so much joy. Christmas is a close second. My son is 25, and I still love decorating the Christmas tree with him. This year, I hope to become a foster parent to a sibling pair who perhaps have been in the system for a while, and I look forward to creating memories with them over both holidays.
What piece of advice would you share with someone entering college?
Choose your tribe carefully. Iron sharpens iron. It is easy to lose focus of your purpose for attending college if you don't surround yourself with people who will challenge you to do and BE your best.
Do you have any pets?
I absolutely love animals and have two cats—Aaliyah and Summer. One of my students found Aaliyah when she was six-week-old during recess, and I took her home and scheduled an appointment with a local veterinarian. I kept her and named her after the student who found her. I adopted Summer from PetSmart when I moved to Georgia. I wish I could say that they get along perfectly, but they both get a little jealous when I'm giving the other a little more attention. My hope is to complete my fur family with a Yorkie.
What are your hobbies?
Well, when I do find the time, I love to read or journal in the park, hike, exercise, or try new dishes. I also love photography--taking pictures and being in them. I want to learn the art of photography one day.
What is your favorite food?
I enjoy eating seafood. From salmon and catfish to shrimp and mussels. I absolutely love seafood!
To learn more about Latesha and connect, visit her profile within our online member community here.
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