In celebration of Coach Foundation’s Dream It Real program, Angie Martinez sits down with Megan Thee Stallion for the sixth episode of Coach Conversations. The brand’s Youtube series is centered around culture, community and creativity. The two phenomenal women explore the importance of higher education, lessons learned inside and outside of the classroom and balancing college while pursuing a career. There couldn’t be a better expert to speak on the matter than Megan herself who is on track to graduate in the fall from Texas Southern University.
During Martinez’s conversation with one of Houston’s biggest rappers, she learns how passionate Megan is about getting her degree and what she plans to do with it after celebrating all of her hard work. “I’m super impressed with not just her career and who she is, but the fact that she’s been able to commit to her education. I think it’s an amazing example to set for young women,” says Martinez. They also touch on the challenges that come with attending college such as the financial costs and what it takes to make it all the way through.
Thanks to programs like Coach Foundation’s Dream It Real, more students are offered the opportunity to attend college without the burden of worrying about how they will pay for it. The initiative, launched in 2018, has a core mission to help young people around the world pursue their paths and purpose. Today, the team is focused on breaking the cycles of inequality and empowering the next generation to reach their full potential through higher education. One of their commitments is to provide 5,000 scholarships by 2025 through partnering with non-profits around the world that are already working to address inequities in higher education faced by underrepresented students.
Martinez’s career began at the early age of 16 and has continued to thrive ever since, which also placed her in the position to balance her career and her education while attending high school. The renowned media mogul continued to pursue her path in community college, but decided to cut it short as her success outside of the classroom heated up. She tells ESSENCE “I went to Community college, where I also started my career in radio, so I never got to finish my education and I definitely regretted that over the years. While I’ve had a great career and I’ve worked really hard, I feel like there are things that would have been easier for me and that I would have understood better. And I feel like I would have gotten further along faster and not to change my story, everybody’s story happens the way it’s supposed to, but I really admire her (Megan) wanting to stick with it and see it out. I was not able to do that. It is definitely something that I’m inspired to see someone else doing.”
Martinez has accomplished a great deal in her career, from being one of the most prominent and trusted radio personalities while pursuing music as an artist, to making appearances as an actress and being considered ‘The Voice of New York.’ Her achievements are definitely ones to aspire to and will inspire the next generation to go after their dreams. However, it doesn’t go unnoticed that while Martinez has achieved immense success and is living out all of her wildest dreams, she still values higher education and encourages the next generation to seek out that experience. See below for our conversation with Martinez as she shares more on her talk with Megan and her insight on finding passion while pursuing an education.
ESSENCE: What was it about the collaboration with Coach and Megan that made you say yes to join? And how does it align with the message you wish to spread?
Martinez: Well, first of all it’s a no brainer. I’m a Coach fan. Coach is that iconic New York brand and it’s just in line with my brand. Then this project is wonderful because they’re going to support 5,000 students with scholarships. I love Megan Thee Stallion and I’m super impressed with not just her career and who she is, but the fact that she’s been able to really commit to her education. I think it’s an amazing example to set for young women. I’m inspired by her and being able to do that, I mean any woman who has a career like Megan or just a career that takes up a lot of your time like that. It’s not an easy thing she’s been able to do and it’s kind of fascinating, so you know the opportunity to talk to her about that and also just lift up that conversation is really a no brainer.
That said, why is it important for artists in the music industry like Megan to reach back and show the youth more than one path of how to be successful?
Well, I think young people are often influenced and inspired by artists and people whose music they like and people who they might look up to. It’s important to have different paths because not everybody’s path is the same. However, it’s important to show that this is one way you can go. She’s pushed through to get it done while she’s running this big career at the same time. I think they’re influenced by that and I think it’s important to show that it can happen. I imagine that it will influence a lot of young people and that message will connect to stay true to your dream. Sometimes we set goals and we set dreams for ourselves and we don’t get them across the finish line. Or we give up, we quit, we get tired, or we have an excuse. So I think it’s not only admirable, but it’s inspiring that she’s kept with it. It’s important for young people to know that, yes, you can have a dream, yes, you can set big goals for yourself but also you can cross the finish line.
Even where you stand with your success today, do you maybe ever consider going back to school?
Yeah I do. It’s crazy because my son is leaving in two weeks to go to college and I always tell him I’m going to come with him and we’re gonna get a dorm together and he’s totally not into that idea. But I think it’s really fun and I would love to. I recently received my honorary doctorate from Rutgers University which is symbolic and a great honor, but it does make me think about what I could do to maybe finish up. I haven’t committed to it yet, but it is definitely something I think about pretty often.
What is something that could be beneficial to the next generation other than the core subjects that general education has used in the past?
We all want to make money, yes. We all want to be successful. But we also ultimately want to be happy and to feel passion and feel inspired. The thing that will push you over the edge is when you find passion and when you’re doing something that you love. If you happen to find your passion before you go to college, that’s great. Then you go to college and you learn everything you can about that space. But if you don’t, then go to college and experience all the different things and keep your eyes and heart open to all the options that are out there for you. I think it’s a great place for them to figure out what you love.
What is one of the most valuable lessons that you have learned outside the classroom?
You are responsible for your own life, your own career, your own decisions and how you turn out — not just your teachers, not your parents, or your mentors. I think having a plan, having accountability, having a passion – all of those things will serve you well. You can’t just kind of float around forever looking for other people to help get you there. I think accountability is really a big thing. We all have passions, but passion with no work ethic won’t get you too far. Find your passion and then commit yourself to it and then from there nobody can really stop you.