LaTreva Oyeladun Owodele (LO) grew up in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. A proud multicultural girl born to entrepreneurial and philanthropic parents; her dad a Nigerian and her mom an American of African descent. It was obvious early on that she would be an overachiever. She began talking at three weeks and started reading on her own at four years old. At the age of nine she won third place in her schoolwide spelling bee going on to win fifth place in the citywide spelling bee that same year. But life is not all about academics for her; she also won second place in ballroom dancing. Before attending Senn High School, where LaTreva is currently a senior, she created and managed her own magazine at the tender age of thirteen called what else but Fabulous Thirteen Magazine. Wazobia Global Times (WGT) had an opportunity to catch up with this remarkable young lady.
WGT: What motivated your decision to start your Magazine?
LO: I was walking down the aisle of a Walgreens looking at the many magazine that were supposed to be for kids my age. All I learned from them was who wore it best to some Hollywood party and which celebrity broke up with the other. I remember thinking, “Why do I need to know this?” I told my mother that I’d like to start my own magazine for kids by a kid, to give the information they really need to be aware of.
WGT: What are the challenges you faced while doing this and how did you overcome them?
LO: I was lucky enough to have so many people who encouraged and supported me. I still struggled with the aspect of learning on the job. I had “chutzpah”, but I lacked the knowledge of how to actually get the magazine out to the public. My mother guided me on things like putting the magazine into stores and negotiating sale and advertisement prices. I also struggled with managing my time. Being a straight-A student was always a must-do on my goals list. When I got to high school, being an honors’ student and with all my college-bound extracurricular activities, I began to have less and less time to focus on the magazine. As much as I loved working on the magazine, I decided to focus only on school and preparing myself for college and medical school. As much as I am sad about having to put the magazine aside for a short time, I’m happy that I found a solution of hiring other kids to carry on with the magazine.
WGT: What would you say are the accomplishments you are most proud of thus far?
LO: I am proud to have met and interviewed several famous and regular people with something to share who have complimented me on my interviewing style.
I am proud of the information that was provided to the magazine’s readers. The featured articles about important issues such as bullying, human trafficking, and scientific research in a way that kids could receive it.
I let other children know there is a magazine out there with content for them by someone like them. For myself, I accomplished a goal I had set out to do and I did it well. I also made it clear to myself that I have a voice and there are people out there who will value it.
I’m also proud that despite my family’s trials and tribulations, I have still accomplished a lot academically. I’m an honors’ student with a 4.7 GPA, I am a treasurer of student council, editor or the school year book, on the prom committee, I was a school cheerleader for two years and was courted by Young Leaders of America. I completed my dual enrollment at Truman College by passing and receiving college credits for all of my classes which will transfer with me to the university of my choice.
I feel my biggest accomplishment is that I have family, friends and extended family whom love me and support me, as much I love them. I think having people you can count on says a lot about what’s in your heart.
WGT: What are your career goals?
LO: I want to be admitted to and graduate from college, where I plan to study Neuroscience. I will be a fetal surgeon or a neurosurgeon. I will continue my efforts to keep the magazine going strong with the energy of our youth, generation after generation.
WGT: In what way do you think we can empower the youth?
LO: I believe that providing youth with opportunities to find their voice will help promote the next generation of leaders. In Chicago, I was fortunate to have access to organizations like After School Matters. I find a new program or internship I can be a part of at every corner I turn. My internship with UIC Champions allowed me to explore health careers and work in a hospital; there I discovered my dream to become a doctor. If more youth had that access they will be able to discover what they want to contribute to the world, what their dreams are.
WGT: What advice do you have for other youths?
LO: Follow your dreams. As cliché as it sounds, do it. For me, I know that the road to becoming a doctor will be rough and long, but I am going to do it anyway. It’s my dream. With that mentality, you cannot fail, because you will work tirelessly to get yourself there. If you don’t have a definite dream or don’t know what you want out of life, then make finding your dream your goal and work towards that.