Kenya Mobley is living her American dream in The American Dream City with her company On Track Truck Driving School, LLC.
Mobley was taught from an early age that the values she should hold were courage, grace and resilience.
- Grit – Life will do what life does. It is your responsibility to give the right answer and go through with it.
- Grace – Show yourself some compassion by forgiving yourself for not knowing what you did not know. (A lesson she learned from her grandmother.)
- Resilience – Let go and realize that you are not what happened to you.
Through these three values, Mobley told her story, which began at age six and ended with her standing among us and showing us what strength looked like.
“Imagine a six-year-old little girl who is asleep in her bed and is suddenly jolted awake by a loud bang,” Mobley said. “She thought at first that she might be dreaming, but as fear builds up in her little body, she closes her eyes, clinging tight to her teddy bear, hoping it will all go away. When she opens her eyes, she sees her big brother standing there, leaning down and whispering, “Hey Buffy, help me, something happened.”
Mobley discovered that her parents were shot in her bedroom when she was six years old. She received no counseling and had to learn to deal with this trauma on her own. This led to her embarking on a path of rebellion that got her pregnant at 13. Her aunt asked that they move to Virginia and send Kenya to an alternative school for pregnant teenagers. The active role that Mobley’s aunt had during this period changed the course of her life.
Looking around a classroom full of pregnant black teenagers, Mobley said she was taught the stats of her pregnancy and future:
- A teenage mother has the highest infant mortality rate.
- African American teenage mothers are more dependent on government support.
- Firstborn males of teenage mothers are more likely to be imprisoned or killed at a young age.
This third statistic caught Mobley’s eye.
“It went deep,” Mobley said. “I was carrying a little boy. That day I swore this wouldn’t be my story. I was determined to beat those numbers.”
At age 14, she proved one of those stats wrong by giving birth to a nearly ten-pound boy.
Eventually, she was forced to fall back into survival mode when a circumstance beyond her control forced her to return to Mississippi. A place with very few options for you and your child. Describing the feeling of returning to a place that had so many bad memories, Mobley said: “I felt like I was in quicksand and I was slowly sinking and before you knew it I was being forced back into survival mode. Sometimes it felt like the walls were coming down on me no matter how much grit I had.”
During this time, she would look to her grandmother, who would always tell her, “God’s grace and your faith will see you through. You just have to keep going.” Mobley believes her grandmother is the one who taught her the true value of courage and grace.
At 18, Mobley graduated high school and walked the stage pregnant with her second child. This time with a little girl. With two children, Mobley had to learn how to take care of them. Wanting to be the best role model for her babies, she worked low-paying jobs and still relied on government support. As she waited in line for federal aid, the statistics she was taught in school came back to her. She had to create a better life for herself and her children.
In 2002, Mobley decided to do something completely crazy. She put her kids in the car with $2,000 in their names and the repo man who was looking for them, and traveled 417 miles to Arlington, Texas.
“I could smell the opportunity brewing in Arlington,” she said.
With the help of Miss Tillie and Mission Arlington, Mobley was able to survive the times when there were more months than money. Mission Arlington provided resources for her and her family. They also prayed for her, which reminded Mobley of her grandmother’s whispers of having the faith to move on.
With help from Mission Arlington, Mobley became self-sufficient, but she wanted more for her family. She wanted the American Dream and started her passion of owning her own business. Her first business venture was to open a day care center. She wanted to give children the love and support they needed at that age.
Mobley started by opening her own daycare, but soon realized that doing so would require many more permits than expected. When she arrived at the Permits Office, Pam Smith was there to greet her with the harsh reality of all the permits required to open a childcare facility. Mobley explained to Pam that she wanted to open this center to give back to the community.
“I wanted to love and raise children the way Arlington raised me,” Mobley said.
Her passion for this endeavor allowed her to open her own daycare, A Time to Love. This facility was made up of 90% CPS children and was nationally recognized. A Time to Love ministry opened shortly thereafter and was a non-profit organization created to empower teenage mothers to reach for the stars.
After 10 years, Mobley decided to go bigger and became the first African American in Arlington to open a commercial driving school, On-Track Truck Driving School. This is a 100% women run business. Around 30% of On-Track’s clients have been jailed and Kenya proudly announced that none of their clients have returned to jail.
After telling the driving school about her success, she said, “And let me tell you all that I’ve never driven a truck,” she said.
She had the incredible opportunity to co-write a book with her daughter. “I could give her a little more than trauma,” Mobley said. “I broke curses.”
Not only has Mobley broken curses, but she has triumphed over her past. She triumphed to become one of the best people you will ever meet. She is powerful and she is the definition of Grit & Grace. Thank you Kenya for sharing your story and inspiring every single person in the room.
“I’m Kenya Mobley. Yes, I experienced trauma at the age of six. Pregnant at 13, single mother of 2 children at 18 but through determination, grace and resilience I am not what happened to me, I am what I chose to become.”
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