If the meaning of the word “resilience” had a namesake, it might just be Trinetta Powell. This impressive, perseverant human who personally is called mother, wife, Gigi, sister, and friend, and professionally is called best-selling author, motivational speaker, professional coach, and entrepreneur has worked for and earned each and every one of those titles that adorn the crown upon her head.
Trinettta was born and raised in Mobile, Alabama. She recalls a childhood full of love extended to her by both her mother and father, but this was accompanied by the trauma of growing up in a home with domestic violence. Her dad left when she was seven, which created a large void that was eventually filled by the unconditional love and support of her stepfather, who came into their lives when she turned nine. Even with the instability that came with her biological dad being in and out of her life, Trinetta recalls things being “okay again” with the presence of her stepfather, who she prefers to call dad. It was from him whom she learned the invaluable lesson that would see her through the turmoil that life can be, time and time again; this being, “If you want something, goes out and gets it. Don’t wait for someone else to give it to you.”
It was right around middle school that Trinetta first started to imagine herself as a nurse and pursuing this dream at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. With four aunties on her mother’s side, she was surrounded by plenty of strong female role models. One was in school to be a nurse, and another was attending college at Trinetta’s school of choice. It was when she visited this particular aunt on this particular campus that the dream and the plan took root. Holding fast to her stepfather’s advice, Trinetta wasted no time putting that plan into action.
In high school, at the age of fifteen, she and her older sister began volunteering at a local hospital as candy stripers. She took science classes in school and had the opportunity to do a health science program through one of the local universities. It was under this program that Trinetta saw her first cadaver, an experience that reaffirmed her calling into the field of medicine. Her teenage self was fascinated, intrigued, and inspired.
When the possibility of college loomed large before her, Trinetta applied to her dream school and a safe school. Getting into both, she opted for the dream that was the University of Alabama at Birmingham. School was challenging on many levels. Academics were no easy lift, and the weight of funding her schooling rested firmly and solely upon Trinetta’s young shoulders. She was the recipient of a Pell Grant, took out student loans, and participated in the school’s work-study program, which was all a heavy load to carry, but she was doing it all while seeing her plan come to fruition. Then, in junior year, life threw Trinetta a curve ball – she got pregnant with her oldest son at the precise moment she was supposed to start applying to nursing school.
She stared that curveball down and unflinchingly took a swing. Trinetta moved home to have her son and enrolled at the College of South Alabama, where she was admitted to the nursing program. Knowing the future she wanted was waiting for her, Trinetta didn’t waste any time. She had her baby in September, was back to work in November, and in nursing school in January. Being blessed with having very supportive parents made a paramount impact, making the future she wanted for herself and her son that much more accessible. If she had exams to study for, mom and stepdad would watch the baby, if she had to work, they were there to help out.
While in nursing school, Trinetta pledged for a sorority and was accepted. Growing up around women who had pledged to the same sorority and had been a source of community, inspiration, and goodwill for her made her eager to join such a positive force. Between the sorority and work and being a young single mother and college student spread Trinetta a bit thin, and she failed a course during her second year of the program. She retook the course and passed without a problem, but when she failed another course by a mere 1 point (!), she was told she was going to be expelled from the program. Trinetta appealed to her teacher, asking if she could retake the test, write a paper, anything to compensate for that single point, but was told a merciless “no.” With one course left before graduation, Trinetta found herself butted from the program.
Needless to say the woman was devastated. She explored potential options of transferring but found that all other viable programs would require her to start from scratch as if the last two years of school meant nothing. Shame began to take root, and the resounding voices of those who doubted her ability to finish school with a child resounded in her head.
As a Christian, Trinetta found solace in prayer. Upon praying and deeply reflecting on her situation, she thought about how much she loved spending time with patients, talking with and caring for them, something her clinical instructors criticized, saying she spent too much time with them. Then she thought about one of her favorite professors who was a therapist and Trinetta had a revelation: she would become a therapist herself.
She declared a new major, sociology, in which she excelled, and in the last year of her BA applied to Masters programs in counseling and was accepted at the University of South Alabama – mission accomplished. Trinetta had found her jam and was both loving and excelling at it. This passion for what she was doing propelled her through the program, guiding her through pregnancy with her second son, which occurred right smack in the middle of it. Knowing that the world doesn’t stop turning for anyone, regardless of life’s circumstances, for her meant continuing on with academics during what was a high-risk pregnancy requiring moderate bed rest.
Trinetta had her son on New Year’s Eve 2005, took a semester off, and then resumed her presence in the program full force, graduating shortly thereafter. The next several years were spent building and cultivating her two dreams coming to fruition simultaneously – career and family. 2010 presented many new challenges, but so goes her motto, “The hardships, they don’t ever stop. My life is a story of reliance. It truly is.” And with that, Trinetta continued moving forward. The global recession resulted in the loss of her and her husband’s jobs, within two weeks of one another. With a young family to raise and student debt, things had to be reevaluated and decisions made that Trinetta could never have foreseen in the years prior.
Better paying jobs required her young family to up and move to Dallas, Texas, a land of monetary potential but void of family and friends that they had relied on and celebrated. They were starting from scratch, with only each other to fall back on, but it was enough.
As Trinetta explained, “You have to learn to pivot and go with it. If you try to fight against that current, you’re going to go crazy.” This mentality and strength saw her through yet another enormous transition, and with eyes set on not just surviving but thriving, the family flourished.
Navigating the various jobs that came her way, she found that her passion was working with students and helping them navigate the next steps in both education and life. Being a guiding light was something Trinetta excelled at and felt compelled to do. She completed the 3000 hours of supervision required to obtain her state license to practice as a therapist independently, and not long after her oldest son, who had just begun college, began experiencing a difficult-to-diagnose chronic illness. He had to leave school and move back home so that Trinetta and her husband could care for him. A barrage of visits to specialists and a revolving door of doctor’s offices culminated in his diagnosis of PSC Liver Disease. The competing priorities of physically caring for her son and providing for her family compelled Trinetta to venture off and begin her own therapy practice. Within a few months, she had three clinicians working for her.
And then, the pandemic hit. Trinetta had to pivot yet again, and pivot she did. She took her practice virtual, co-wrote an impactful bestseller focused on elevating the voices of black people in the midst of a national uproar regarding the treatment of people of color in America, and wrote and published another book titled Confidence In Uncertainty: Shifting Your Mindset Transforms The Way You Live Life, Pursue Purpose, And Thrive In Business. Trinetta’s life tells a story about the resilience and perseverance that are this woman. If you are wondering which way to go yourself, whether it’s on a personal or professional level, hear her words, and they just might see you through: “Get really, really clear about what your values are. These are things you are saying are important to you and use these as a guideline for your life. Use these values to filter potential decisions: If I do this, does it support my values, and if it does, you will be happy. Get clear on your values, and then you can do whatever you want, and you will be happy.”
If she was able to share, with her younger self, the well of knowledge and experience she has gained through living, her choice words would consist of these, “Don’t overthink it and just choose to do the thing that you want to do.”
For all you have overcome and everything you have achieved, cheers to you Trinetta. We know you are just getting started, and we can’t wait to see what you conquer next.