Despite living in cardboard boxes between stays at long-term and short-term shelters as a child, Ramona “Mona” Dixon of Tempe is two years through her undergraduate education at Arizona State University.
“You shouldn’t let obstacles define you as a person,” the 19-year-old Dixon said. “Make them motivators in your life.”
With all of the obstacles Dixon has faced in her life, she’s certainly heeded her own advice.
Positive things for Dixon have not slowed down since she was named the 2010 Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year.
Since then, she began her double major in supply chain management and business management at ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business, entered into Barrett, the Honors College, earned a supply chain management internship with the supply chain food management company for Yum Brands -- Taco Bell's parent company -- in California for the summer and became the ambassador for the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens.
While working as an ambassador for the foundation, she has taken part of the Graduate to Go campaign, which works to help high school students graduate.
Nearly three in 10 students at public high schools will drop out each year, according to statistics by the foundation.
Through her experience as ambassador, Dixon made a public service announcement video with Mark Wahlberg.
“I always have thought that when one door opens, it opens many others,” Dixon said, who knows the value of her education.
In the case of her internship, it’s the perfect opportunity to experience what life after college might be like.
“I haven’t taken any supply chain classes yet,” Dixon said. “I wanted to get my feet wet and so far, it’s turning out to be great.”
The experience is not only teaching Dixon about business and giving her experience in different areas of supply chain, but also teaching her about networking and how to work with different types of people.
“It’s a win-win,” she said about her internship. “If I like it, I can continue with supply chain. If I don’t like it, it gives me time to ask, ‘Is this the path that I really want to take?’”
Thus far, it is the path.
Moving to Tempe when she was 10-years-old, things really changed for Dixon when she began attending the Boys and Girls Club at the age of 13, she said.
There she was able to learn the value of not only education, but also the importance of leadership skills and community service.
“They give you all the resources you need, there isn’t an excuse not to succeed,” she said.
With those three things, and a heavy emphasis on community service, Dixon was able to earn enough scholarship money to pay for her college education.
“If you work hard, people will be willing to invest in your future,” she said.
Graduating third in her class, student council member and a basketball player at Tempe High School, Dixon has always worked hard.
As she looks to the future, Dixon hopes to start working toward her masters immediately following her undergraduate graduation, while also working full-time, she said.
She also will continue her volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club, she said.
“A lot of young people hear things that sound cliché, but a lot of the time, they’re true,” she said. “The sky is the limit; anything is possible.”
The Taco Bell Foundation for Teens is the largest teen program donor to the Boys and Girls Club of America, according to the foundation. To learn more about the Graduate to Go program, visit www.tacobellfoundationforteens.org.
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