It is okay to not know everything. — when entering a role on a job, one may feel like they need to know everything in order to be successful, but that is not correct. Successful people ask questions to get the best understanding on what is being asked of them and they identify who they need to collaborate with to work as a team to achieve the overall goal.?
As a part of my series about “Lessons From Inspirational Women in STEM and Tech”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Crystal Goliday.
Crystal Goliday is “The Fund Finder For Education’’ who equips scholars with skills to attend their dream university debt free, complete college, and thrive after graduation. Crystal utilizes her wealth of knowledge she acquired while earning THREE degrees FREE (Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering, Master of Science in Technology Management, and Master of Business Administration). Crystal Goliday is a hidden gem in her industry because she can identify resources BEYOND SCHOLARSHIPS AND LOANS to pay for college tuition, housing, fees, books and professional conferences. You can learn more about her at https://www.crystalgoliday.com.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Growing up math was always my favorite subject. My Daddy provided me with real world lessons that continually increased my love for this subject. I always had an interest in science, so when it was time for me to pick a major for college, I did my research and decided that engineering was the best route for me. To take it a step further, when visiting Drexel University, I had a discussion with one of the administrators about the various engineering major and was told that Computer Engineering had the most math, so that is the one I selected. I must add that Drexel University was the first college to send me my acceptance letter plus I received a full ride, where an external organization paid for my my tuition and housing for their five-year program (plus, I had another funding source for my entire duration at Drexel). Even though I got accepted to all the colleges I applied to, those two aspects (and there were others) are reasons why I attended Drexel University.
In one of the freshman engineering classes we were told that only one of three students would last the undergraduate program. The exercise went like this; look to the left of you and then look to the right of you. Know that only one of you will survive Drexel’s engineering program. And you know what, that was more than accurate. People dropped like flies. I even failed physics my freshman year. However, with my funding sources that covered everything full ride and the fact that my Mommy taught me that if I start something then I should finish it, I stuck with it and before I know it, I was on the Dean’s List prior to before graduating.
A beautiful thing about attending Drexel University is that it has the Co-op Program, where you get real world experience and a real-world salary to match it. The Co-op is longer than an internship and you have three opportunities to do it with their five-year program. I opted to skip, the last one because I had the initial funding sources, I mentioned plus more funding to pay for my college education. Yes, I was going to college for FREE. I am talking about my tuition, housing, books, fees, and professional conferences were paid for by various entities. Before your mind wonders, no it was not only scholarships. I learned creative ways to finance my education and it was not through loans.
Through Drexel’s Co-op Program I realized that I did not want to code my entire career. I was fascinated by the motherboard of the computer, plus I learned the hardware and software aspects of a computer, so with technology being woven into everything we do I knew that I had a lot of options. However, I did not know exactly which option was best for me at that time.
After graduation I was recruited and relocated by a Fortune 500 company that found me online. I was shocked because this very popular extremely popular company was one, I shied away from at professional conferences because their line was always “down the block and around the corner”. So, when they flew me out to be interviewed and then told me two days later that I got the job, I was elated. My Daddy was even happier and told me that he worked all his life for my starting salary. (And to think I thought it was not high enough. Know that I tried to negotiate but they did not budge.)
I stayed with that company for a few years but realized what I was doing was not for me. I was working on environments that technology lived on. It required coding, coordination, testing, etc. From seeing how things work in the corporate world, I realized that I needed to learn more about the business side. So, I did my research and found out that company had a program for their employees to further their education. From there I started the program to pursue a Dual Masters program where I would get a Master of Science in Technology Management, to further my technical background, and a Master of Business Administration, to learn more about the business side.
Well during my time pursuing my graduate degrees, I left that company to go to a smaller company. It did not work out with them so there was a short period of time I was unemployed, but before I knew it another Fortune 500 company found my resume online (just like the first one) and hired me. Now this one seemed more my speed. There was opportunity to travel and have experience that expands beyond the technical field.
I was excited and worked my way up to the executive level. It is now my 15th year with this company. I like it because it is a people company and has grown through the different stages of my life. With one of the roles, I was able to marry my life passion of working with the youth and what I get paid to do for work. I was the National Lead for a unique internship program. It reminded me of my undergraduate collegiate years when I was the Pre-College Initiative (PCI) Chair for Drexel’s National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) chapter. From seeing that what I love to do is possible, even in the corporate world, my already blossomed entrepreneurial spirit wanted more.
It was not until I was on the bedside of my dying Mommy, my last living parent, that I decided enough was enough and I was going to stop putting my goals on “the back burner”. So, fFrom the bedside of my Mommy in the intensive care unit (ICU) of the hospital, the same one my Daddy died in, I turned my grieving into fuel. That fuel helped me to birth my first published book “How To Get A College Degree For Free”, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that I founded and serve as the Executive Direction — , which is Never Underestimate Knowledge (NUK) — , and my own business, which is CG Consulting LLC.
Through these entities I empower parents and scholars to attend their dream university debt free by exposing them to the strategies I leveraged to get all THREE of my college degrees for FREE; plus, I provide resources for inner city youth in their academic endeavors. For example, I awarded five scholars from high school and college scholars in November 2020 with a scholarship to further their education. Plus, I hosted a Women In STEM event in March 2021 that highlighted phenomenal women that have taken their STEM education to the next level. One of theAnother highlights about of this event is that Amazon sponsored it.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
I want to answer this question from the standpoint of my own company and from the perspective of the company I work for since I believe they would help others. I am going to start with the company I work for since that happened to me first.
At the company I work for I was looked over for promotions on the first project I was on for six year. Yes, I received a promotion during that timeframe, but not nearly as fast or as many as my counterparts (of different races, and gender, etc.). I found this to be very unfair and I even got frustrated and thought about leaving. I looked at the big picture and realized that even though the promotions did not happen when I wanted them to, there were as other ways I was being reminded of my value. So, when it came time for the contract to end, I was on a one-person team. The and other sub-contractor companies and even the client wanted me to work for them. Talk about ego booster. While those offers sounded enticing, I looked at all the offerings and decided to stay with the company, where now my 15th anniversary is coming up in June 2021. Wow! Now I am at the executive level and have worked on numerous projects globally since then.
Now when it comes to my own company, the most interesting story that happened to me since I began it was pertaining to my offerings. When starting I had several offerings and felt that I needed to offer a monthly membership option for those who were not able to afford my private consulting services. Come to find out that my higher priced service received more traction and my clients told me I should charge more because of the value I provide and the fact that I over deliver. Now that is the feedback you want to receive (then increase your prices so that you get paid what you are worth)!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When starting my career, I left a company that had a good reputation for a smaller and less established company solely for the money and the title was nicer. Then, I got laid off. The lesson I learned from this experience is to not go after the money. Yes, we all have bills to pay BUT we need to look at the full package and what the opportunity has to offer (including the history and reputation of a company).
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
What makes what the products and services that I offer through my company CG Consulting LLC stand out is that they empower scholars of all ages to go after their dreams by furthering their education without fearing a mountain of debt. According to the 2020 report, Trends in College Pricing, the College Board reports, “for out-of-state students attending four-year public colleges, the average budget comes to 43,280 dollars, and for students attending private colleges, the average budget is 54,880 dollars”. Families are worried and unsure about how they will pay for college, plus the impact of the global pandemic has added another layer to these feelings. According to Forbes, “there are 45 million borrowers who collectively owe nearly 1.6 trillion dollars in student loan debt in the United States,” and according to Fox Business, “52% of college students dropped out of school due to costs.” A family I worked with (a parent and their scholar) was nervous about attending college and the large price tag. With the Mom already having a child in college she did not know how she was going to pay for her second child. On their own they were able to get some funding from the government, but not nearly enough to cover all the costs to attend college. After acquiring my consulting services, they walked away with more funding sources than they even knew about plus strategies to continue this process for all the collegiate years for both scholars in their family. With this family I went above the original scope of work, which was focusing on the one scholar for the entering year of college. I am a woman of my word and aim for my clients to be satisfied so much that I exceed their expectations. From the feedback I received, I accomplished that mission.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am always working on exciting new projects. My main goal now is figuring out ways to raise more funds. See, the proceeds from my products and services are donated to Never Underestimate Knowledge (NUK), ), 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization where I am the Founder and Executive Director. The goal is to double the amount of scholarships we provide for deserving scholars this year. People The ways people will help are by volunteering their time, donating money, assisting with the grant process, and being a customer of CG Consulting LLC (to not only empower themselves, but also empower others on their journey).
I recently wrapped up hosted a Women In STEM event that was sponsored by Amazon. My next event, Creating Legacies Today, is scheduled to take place Saturday, November 13th, 2021. People will ill help this initiative to be a success by naming their donation to attend it, attending the event, and spreading the word about it (as well as the scholarship opportunity). This and all my events could be found at www.CrystalGoliday.com/Events .
Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Are you currently satisfied with the status quo regarding women in STEM? What specific changes do you think are needed to change the status quo?
No, I am NOT satisfied with the status quo regarding women in STEM. There is still blaring inequities that need to be addressed. While I see some strides to improve the presence of women in STEM, like with organizations like Girls Who Code, things like unequal pay still take place. I would say that is the specific change that needs to change. Women are as capable as men. Let’s face it, women run the world. While we may not have all the leading positions, we are the backbone and do a LOT behind the scenes. Therefore, we need to be respected and compensated accordingly for all of our efforts.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women in STEM or Tech that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts? What would you suggest to address this?
The biggest challenges faced by women in STEM or Technology that are not typically faced by their male counterparts are the pressure to compromise their life goals and soften their tone. To address this, I suggest that teams are reminded that EVERYone’s time is important. I am talking about the entry level position all the way to the top executive, plus a single person being equally treated as a person with a child or an animal. During my experience in the corporate world, I have seen people with dogs given special treatment to those that are single without an animal. This is unfair treatment. The time people have outside of work with whatever obligation they have is important to them, so it should be honored and respected. I know this may seem minor but being unfairly treated does not seem like a small thing when you are going through it. And on the note of tone. When a woman is passionate about a message she could be looked at as being the B word, but when a man is the same way, he is accepted. This is not fair. Everyone should be able to express themselves respectfully to others.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a woman in STEM or Tech. Can you explain what you mean?
Three “myths” I would like to dispel about being a woman in STEM or Tech are (1) men are better than women in STEM or Tech, (2) the gender gap does not exist in STEM or Tech, and (3) women are bad at math. ???
- Yes, STEM and Technology are male dominated fields, but that does not mean that they are better than women. Women are capable to do anything a man can do. It is all about the individual and their personal capability. So, saying that men are better than women in STEM and Technology is indeed a myth.
- The gender gap is also evident in STEM and Technology. Women are not always paid the same or higher than their male counterparts. While a career in STEM or Technology pays well compared to other fields, the gender inequity in pay also exists in STEM and Technology.
- Math has always been my favorite subject, so when I hear the myth that women are bad at math, I happily share my journey of how I tested out of the math offerings at my high school and was attending college while in high school so I could stay active in math. While some may have just moved forward without math and used that time for something else, I wanted to continue to excel and be advanced in this subject. Therefore, I explored all options. I am thankful to my Daddy for explaining math to me through life examples at a very young age.
What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience as a Woman in STEM or Tech” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
My “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience as a Women in STEM” are below and on YouTube at https://youtu.be/m0gfswFh4tI
- It is okay to not know everything. — When entering a role on a job, one may feel like they need to know everything in order to be successful, but that is not correct. Successful people ask questions to get the best understanding on what is being asked of them and they identify who they need to collaborate with to work as a team to achieve the overall goal.?
- Each team member is vital to success. — Have you heard the saying “there is no I in team”? Well, that is true. Yes, the higher-level team members make the decisions, but the more junior team members help them with the research to come to the decision. Each team member has a role in the overall mission. Look at it as a pizza pie, it takes several pieces of pizza to equal a whole pizza pie. So next time you feel yourself “looking down” or not valuing a junior team member, please quickly remember this lesson and change your perspective because that junior team member is just as valuable as you are. Plus, one day they could be your boss.?
- Work, but make time to “let your hair down.” — I hear a lot of people say, “work hard, play hard”, well I like to “work smarter, not harder”. But on the lines of both of those sayings, my point is that we make time to get to know the people we spend most of our time with. Yes, we spend most of our time during the week working. That is more time than our family members if you really calculate it. So, make the time to get to know your team members. Do not start every meeting by just jumping into the agenda; take a few moments to ask how everyone is doing first. Be human, not a robot. Plus, incorporate a fun activity or two for your team.?
- Take time off. — No one is built to work and not take a break. When starting my career, I thought I always had to work the most hours and not take off a whole lot of time for a holiday/vacation. But when I realized that having time away from work is good for you, as it helps you to regroup and recharge, I unapologetically took my time away from the office when I needed it. Now make sure that your work is done and what must take place while you are out of the office is covered. Remember, you are a part of a team. ?
- Set boundaries. — If you have a personal obligation outside of work that is a non-negotiable for you, speak up about it. Remember, no one is a mind reader. And if you do not speak up for yourself others will not know. Advocate for you and protect your time!?
What advice would you give to other women leaders to help their team to thrive?
My advice to other women leaders to help their team to thrive is to eEmbrace the differences others bring to the table. Single or young does not mean they do not have a life outside of work. Everyone has something that is important in their lives. When you embrace the uniqueness of everyone and that is celebrated, you help to create an inclusive environment.
What advice would you give to other women leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
The advice I would give to other women leaders about the best way to manage a large team would be is to have defined roles and responsibilities. When individuals know what they are responsible for they could take ownership and work effectively toward the overall mission of the team. s…
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
That is absolutely correct! No one achieves their success solely by themselves. I have a whole village that helped to raise me and help me along my journey called life. The three women I want to highlight are my Mommy, her eldest Sister, and theMy Mommy
The Executive Assistant in the College of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Drexel University.
- My Mommy taught me the important of finishing something you started, being a woman of your word, and being a part of what you feel is important. She had me engaged with meaningful programming seven days a week, yes even on a Sunday there was something I was involved with. She was not only there for me, but she was also the “go to” person for many others. In addition, she was either on an executive board, volunteered, or had some other role associated with an activity, organization, etc. From my nursery school to the alumni associate of her junior high school, my Mommy realized what made her happy and the impact she would like to have on the world. I admire these and other attributes. I also miss her dearly. Her death pushed me to write my book “How To Get A College Degree For Free” and start my nonprofit “Never Underestimate Knowledge (NUK)”, which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that the profits for my products and services are donated to further the mission of NUK.
- The eldest Sister of my Mommy was an integral part to me finding out about the larger funding source that paid for my tuition and housing for my undergraduate degree of a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering. My Aunt was well known in the community because she knew about a lot and I am grateful for her listening to my dream of going away for college to pursue a degree in Engineering.
- While at Drexel University I met some super awesome people. One of theses individuals was the Executive Assistant (EA) for the College of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE). For my Freshman Design Project, I had the Dean of the college as my Academic Advisor. Well, to schedule meetings with the Dean I needed to go through the EA. During our conversations she made me aware of the opportunity to be sponsored to represent the college and attend professional organizations, as they had the budget to accommodate this offering. This was golden knowledge that I am blessed to empower my consulting clients with, amongst other strategies to attend your dream college debt free.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Yes, I have used my success to bring goodness to the world. Here are a few things:
My first book, “How To Get A College Degree”, documents my journey of earning three degrees free plus it provides resources and tools for others to do the same. Signed copies of my book are available at https://www.crystalgoliday.com/shop Book
Nonprofit — I founded and serving as the Executive Director for a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, “Never Underestimate Knowledge (NUK)” that is dedicated to providing inner-city youth and domestic violence survivors with educational, financial, and social resources to thrive in life and fulfill their dreams. More information about NUK and how you can be a part of this impactful organization is at http://www.NeverUnderestimateKnowledge.org
My consulting business, “CG Consulting LLC”, is where scholars and families consult with me to attend college debt free because I expose them to the strategies I leveraged to get not one, not two, but three degrees for free so that the scholar can focus on being a student without fearing a mountain of debt after they obtain their college degrees. I also empower my clients to expand their network with individuals and organizations along their journey. I am a hidden gem in my industry because I can identify other resources beyond scholarships and loans to pay for college tuition, housing, etc. Plus, I have a POWERful network that elevates my services to the next level.
Scholarships — In 2020 the inaugural group of high school and college scholars were awarded The RHM Scholarship, which is in honor of my deceased Mommy. Through the proceeds from my book sales, consulting business, and donations, five scholars received this scholarship. The goal for 2021 is to double the number of scholarships to ten. The event that will award these scholarships, takes place in November so stay connected with me on social media and my website, https://www.crystalgoliday.com
In Women’s History Month 2021, I hosted a “Women In STEM” event that highlighted distinguished women that utilized their STEM education to have impactful careers. The panelists included Patent Attorney Crystal M. Lacey, Esq., Director of Strategic Alliances for Merck & Co Dr. Elise Grace, and Dentist Kristin D. Rogers, DDS, MSD. This event was sponsored by Amazon and the feedback received was phenomenal. There are several requests to host this event more often and event travel to different locations to make it happen.
This is just the beginning for what I will bring to the world. I want the dash between my two important dates (my birth date and my death date) to have meaning to others, so I will continue to share my God given gifts with the world through the aforementioned outlets above and more. So, stay tuned!
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Thanks for your kind words. I just simply try to be a better me than I was yesterday. However, I realize that I have influence. If I could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, it would be to nNormalize having a life outside of work and to go after your dreams. For me, I did not start truly going after my dreams until my 30’s. Now if I would have taken action when my ideas manifested, I would have started in my teens or early 20’s, which is years (I am talking about more than a decade) before I actually started. I could imagine where I would be today if I would have started back them. Well, we all know that hindsight is 20/20, so I will continue to take steps every day toward my goals and remember the compound effect on the days when I do not want to put in the work. I highly encourage others to do the same. Do not wait for one day, make today your day one (if you have not started already and if you have, keep going).
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite “Life Lesson Quotes” are:
- “You could do anything you put your mind to.o…” — Over the years I let fear get in the way of me pursuing some things. I also realize that happen with others around me. But after giving birth to my Prince and losing both of my parents I realized that time is our most valuable asset so we must use it wisely and MAKE time for our personal goals.
- Requires work, research, and help
- “Love! Live! Life!” — I try to always keep in mind the Golden Rule of treating others how I want to be treated, so I aim to love others but more importantly to love myself. Far too often I get caught up in making others happy, so I am diligent about MAKING TIME FOR ME and taking care of myself first. Plus, I use to wait until the “right time” to do things, but there is no right time. The time is now because there will never be a perfect time.Ask for what you want
- Explore options
- Mentor and sponsor
We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
This is exciting to think about. I could think of several people, but the top person on my list is Oprah because she stood up to adversities in her life, succeeded, and pivoted. I admire that she did not let anything, or anyone stop her. I could have let the teasing of my first-grade teacher hold me back from progressing in literacy, which I was poor at with having a speech impediment and low school scores in this area of study during my earlier academic years. However, through the village that helped raised me I received speech therapy, plus I learned study habits that worked best for me to earn my three college degrees for free. Now I am able to empower others to do the same and so much more.