On Her Grind Series, Part I

College teaches you how to balance school work, a social life, job(s), organizations, and passions. Sometimes, this means late nights and early mornings. The ‘On Her Grind’ Series looks to highlight women on ODU’s campus who work hard balancing these things and make it look flawless!


Meet The Girls

Sasha Marshall (pictured right) is a senior double majoring in Biochemistry and Criminal Justice. She is the Vice-President of F.I.R.S.T Ladies, Treasurer of D.E.S.T.I.N.E.D, 3rd Vice-President and STEM committee chair of the National Council of Negro Women, and a general member of ODU Student Activities Council and Success Without Limitations. Sasha has participated in volunteering opportunities such as mentoring elementary-aged girls and community clean-ups through these campus organizations. She is a Resident Assistant and Office Assistant for the Dean of students, all while still making time for her passions, Fashion and History.

Karen Flores (pictured right) is a (Super) senior Leadership major with a concentration in Management and a minor in Spanish. During her time at ODU, she has served as President of the Latino Student Alliance for two consecutive years, help co-found WEPA, an ODU Latino Dance team and became a chartering sister of the campus Collective of Omega Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated. Karen is passionate about dance, fitness, and activism for social injustices (ex. Women’s rights, immigration, BLM). She currently works at SunTrust Bank and volunteers at IGNITE’s pantry and during worship service.

HC: What steps do you take to balance your school, work, extracurricular activities, and social lives?

Sasha: [It] is based on priority and time management. Without these two things, I would be very lost and anxious all the time! With prioritizing my schedule, meaning school and work MUST, keyword MUST be done before I partake in everything else is what keeps me excelling in my fields, plural honey. At the end of the day, I am very sociable and love meeting new people with common goals. However, I can’t be a great member of any org, job, or business idea without having my time management down packed. My Dad, a wise Bajan man, always said: “There is 24 hours a day, make sure you are utilizing every second of every minute, because you don’t know what impact you will make or when it will be your last.”

Karen: Scheduling things out in a planner. The Sunday of the week, I would open my planner and write down everything from when I wake up till I go to bed because I have so much going on. Last semester, I had two jobs, an internship at IGNITE Norfolk, did a lot of activist work when it came to DACA and school. I definitely needed to plan out what I wanted to do if not I knew I was going to get lost. Honestly, it was all worth it. Not only did I get on Dean’s List, but I now have a new job where I can start my career. I am still at IGNITE Norfolk but have time to do so much more volunteer work with them. Also, I am currently going to try to work with Channel News 13 here in Norfolk to make an awareness that the Latinx culture is in the Hampton Roads and that we are here to support all of our DACA recipients and TPS individuals. So I just started bullet journaling to help myself stay focused because with my activism, work, school, volunteering, worship, my mental health, and having a social life, I need to make a schedule.

HC: What/who motivates you to stay on your grind?

Sasha: Ahhhh, the golden question. Honestly being from Brooklyn, New York, I had no choice but to hustle. Even outside of that moving down here my hustle continued, I have no sympathy for people who sit around and expect everything just to fall into their laps. Especially as being a triple minority (lesbian, Bajan American, and a female), you have no choice but to grind harder than those around you. Nothing in my life has come easy. With everything I have or want, I make sure I set myself up in a foundation where I am able to obtain. Trust me, it gets hard, there are times where I was like “This is tooooo much.” But, with every great accomplishment, there is a great struggle. The main thing that keeps me going, and I know you guys are going to be like, “Sis is crazy,” but I dream about where I want to be and how I see myself in the next 5 years. I turn my dreams into reality, as everyone should. Never SETTLE, never feel like you can’t, and NEVER EVER give up! You have people watching and people hating. So, you make sure that you are the best individual you can be while staying humble through the process.

Karen: The main person who motivates me to stay on my grind is my mom. (I love her to death) I know people will think that’s cheesy but honestly, I know everything I’m doing makes her so proud. When she was in El Salvador, she was never really able to go to school because of the civil war that our country was having. She came to the U.S to work hard for her family and she still is doing that after 27 years of being here. Every time I am able to accomplish something new, she is the first person I call to tell her some great news. Every single time she tells me how proud she is of me and that my accomplishments make her feel like she made the right decision. Honestly, if it wasn’t for my mom, I wouldn’t be where I am today. So shout out to a real one!

HC: Advice to women at ODU?

Sasha: Ladies, Ladies, Ladies, please find out who YOU are, when I say that I mean that with the utmost bluntness (and yes my New York accent just came out). Ladies, you must be true to yourself, because if you look in the mirror like ‘this is who I am and I am not changing for nobody,’ no obstacle that comes your way can deter your morals, opinions, and values. Please get involved, there is more to this life than college parties and selfies. Go out there a make a real difference. You see something you want or want to start? Do it! This next thing I am about to say, your mothers have been telling you for years, ACADEMICS come first, SIGNIFICANT OTHERS finds you. DO NOT I repeat DO NOT, settle for anyone in this era that is not going the same place or on the same level as you. All that matters right now, is which graduate school is going to give me a free ride for my Master’s and possibly Ph.D.? Ladies, keep your eye on the goal and don’t let anything distract you, we are the leaders and the innovators, don’t forget that!

Karen: Remember why you came to college and it doesn’t matter how long the journey is, what matters is you make it. Because when we first come to college we sometimes can get lost and it happens. It’s okay. When you remember why you came, it motivates you to do better and just do great things. [Doing that] motivated my grind and here I am, being noticed! I found a group of women that empowered me to do great things and it’s so dope! (Empowered women empower women). Another important thing is to remember that sometimes it’s okay to not be okay. It took me awhile to realize that. It’s finally my last semester here at ODU! (yay!) It was really hard last year in the Spring because all of my friends who were freshmen at the same time as me were graduating, and I thought I was being left behind, but so far … I am so glad where life is taking me that I found the major that was right for me, I found a passion in my soon career, and life is great. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, what matters is that you get there.

Round of Applause for these amazing ladies and their dedication to their campus, community and themselves! We aim to continue highlighting ambitious women of Old Dominion University with the ‘On Her Grind’ Series. If you know any other women on their grind, email [email protected], with ‘On Her Grind’ in the subject line, for a feature!