If superwoman was a real life character, Alicia Harper would be her. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, just like Jay- Z, Alicia “bleeds blue” but for a different reason. Receiving undergraduate and Masters’ degrees from Columbia University in the City of New York – she’s True Blue. Being educated at one of the premiere universities is just the tip of the ice burg for this phenomenal woman. Her feats also include being a dean of students at a charter elementary school, creator of her own blog, Mommy Delicious, featured writer with magazines and online publications, and of course a mommy. Alicia proves that nothing is two great for a visionary woman who has drive and determination.
Excellence was always the standard for Alicia. Being involved in foster care as a child may not have been easy but Alicia grew tough skin to manage the difficulties of life. At a young age she learned not to fail and that if she wanted more in life she would have to work hard to get it. She knew that she would have to become the author of her own destiny. And she did nothing short of it. As a high school student she was awarded a Times Scholarship recognizing her ability to overcome adversities and successfully manage hardships in life. Though she was accepted to many universities, she experienced the greatest feeling of pride when she received her final acceptance letter – from Columbia. This was her top choice and for Alicia a life changing experience.
As a Columbia student she realized the stark differences in academic preparation when she went from being the top student at her own high school to struggling with the academic rigor of an Ivy league university. Like the Superwoman she is, she worked hard to excel at Columbia – and of course she did. Beyond the academic differences Alicia was able to learn first hand the social inequalities within the city she had grown up in. Though she was from New York City she soon realized the many cultural and social experiences in Manhattan that her friends were afforded growing up and she was not. She took it upon herself to be reintroduced to her hometown and enjoyed city life with a new lens.
A woman whose personal and professional are connected – her formative experiences at Columbia would later inform her professional pursuits. As a college student Alicia had completed several independent studies working with schools in Harlem and Brooklyn. She realized that she was not alone in her own academic experiences and become interested in the achievement gap. She wondered why some students have more resources and better schools than others.
After graduating from Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in psychology she decided to pursue a career in education. Alicia became a part of the NYC teaching fellows program where she taught third and fifth grade. Observing her classroom, Alicia became aware that her students had little interest in learning until their psychological needs were met. She built rapport with them and learned that they did want to learn and had big dreams – only they had personal issues that needed to be dealt with before they could focus in school. From these experiences Alicia felt that she could be more effective if she tackled the achievement gap from a different perspective.
Alicia chose to pursue her Masters degrees in psychological counseling at Teachers College, Columbia University. She was not only a loyal Columbian and New Yorker, but was also drawn to the program for its commitment to multiculturalism and premiere faculty with which she would have an opportunity to learn from.
All of Alicia’s educational and life experiences connected to make her the perfect candidate for the Dean of Students at a local elementary charter school that services students in grades K-4. Alicia works directly under her principle to manage teachers and help them to help their students. Her work includes collaborating with teachers to develop lesson plans using multiple instruction methods and effectively managing student behaviors. Her job is to bridge the gap between passing state mandated tests, supporting the psychological and emotional development of children and staff, maintaining a positive school environment, and developing programs to sustain these efforts. Alicia asserts that the most rewarding aspect of her job is that she gets to help so many students directly and indirectly through consulting with teachers, staff, and parents.
As if that wasn’t enough, Alicia is also Mommy Number 1 to a “rambunctious” 6-year-old son – Aiden. Life as a single mom may not be easy but Alicia manages it with style, grace, and a whole lot of love. Alicia is able to manage mommydom in addition to her professional obligations by prioritizing – a method that has admittedly kept her sane. She describes having a routing for both her and Aiden that supports his growth and development including participation in activities of his choice and also allows her to be a successful career woman and person! Of course she always makes time for mommy-son time including fun weekend activities exploring New York City together and awesome vacation getaways. Alicia enjoys the opportunity for them both to enjoy first time experiences with each other. She also acknowledges how her and Aiden have grown together – a blessing for them both.
Alicia has become more comfortable in her role as mommy, some of which might be attributed to her decision a few years ago to give her own life new meaning. She had always dreamed of becoming a freelance writer and as a new mom actively began to think about how she might do this. While in the gym she decided to create her own blog as a way to express herself. Though mommydom was an experience that she knew first hand she did not want that to be the sole focus. Motherhood was one of her roles but not her only one, so she used her blog to be more interpersonal.
Alicia created Mommy Delicious – a coming of age blog about her life including mommydom and womanhood. Alicia uses this space to honestly share her life and experiences from multiple angles – highlighting herself as a well-rounded woman. There is not a topic that is off limits as long as she has had enough time to mature and grow from it and can effectively tell her story with clarity and purpose. Interestingly, what started off as an opportunity to emote and share her story turned into a delicious cult following. Alicia knew she had something special after being invited to exciting events not only in New York City but also on vacations across the country. Her passion turned into even bigger opportunities where she is now able to run a successful blogging business as well as lend her writing chops to other celebrated publications – an experience she could have only dreamed of several years prior. Despite her writing success, the best part of her blog is when she receives positive feedback from readers who share her experience or feel inspired by her story.
At Dirty Thirty Alicia’s accomplishments are nothing shy of phenomenal. Describing herself as strong, sensitive, and sweet she has overcome many obstacles to reach her goals – making her the ultimate U Blush Woman. And it ain’t over yet. In the next ten years Alicia hopes to continue to be a blessing to other people by doing her current work but on a larger scale. These goals include writing a regular column on a larger platform, publishing her own book, teaching as an adjunct college instructor, and opening her own school.
Alicia’s source of inspiration is her faith and knowing that “God will never leave or forsake me.” Aiden, the special boy in her life, always motivates her that anything is possible and keeps her striving for better. She reminds readers that “overnight success” is rarely over night. You have to work hard even when no one is looking; your day will come. In pursuit of excellence Alicia asserts, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” A method that has brought her to the level of success she stands at now by never giving up even when the odds were stacked against her. For her, empowerment means “unapologetically going after what you want and know is right even if you are the only person doing it” – a quote with which she obviously lives by.