Local Leaders Share Personal Journeys at Black History Event


In celebration of Black History Month, National Park College hosted the Hot Springs Dance Troop with guests Gina Rockwell and Anthony Tidwell to talk about their journey to becoming who they are.

Yassenia Vargas, President of the NPC Cultural Diversity Awareness Club, introduced Tidwell and Rockwell, a group of dancers representing the Hot Springs School District, performing “Still I Rise.”

Of finally being able to follow her dreams, Tidwell said, “Sometimes there are fork points and things have to change, but it’s good to have a plan.

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“But deep down, my first love was art. I always wanted to be an artist, but the path was…no one showed me how. So I aspired to be an artist, but I didn’t have the resources at the time.I didn’t have an artist family.

Tidwell, a Hot Springs native and founder of the local nonprofit Cutwell 4 Kids, said he had a clear idea of ​​what he wanted to do, but had to wait until an opportunity arose to pursue it. .

“I didn’t know any professional artists, but I knew that was what I wanted to do. , until someone can show you…you,” he said.

Doors began to open to him after he attended Arkansas Tech.

“That’s when I decided, ‘One day I’m going to be a professional artist,'” he said. “College was the perfect place for me when it came to choosing my own path. It gave me the resources I needed to know which direction to take.”

Rockwell, a former Miss Arkansas runner-up who founded Feed My Sheep Ministry more than 25 years ago, pointed out the importance of being sure of who you are and where you are. Currently, Citizens serves as Community and Business Development Officer for The Bank.She also attended Arkansas Tech University and played a key role in the school’s annual Martin She Luther Her King Her Day of Serving. He served as an advisor to the Black Students Association.

She said she has many “junctions” as well.

“I wanted to be a Broadway actor,” she said. “I wanted to be all things. Here I am a banker. That’s fine. But my greatest motivation is to find out where I want to go and what I want to do in life.” My advice is to grow where you were planted, and then move on when it’s big.

“I’ve been a few things… I’ve been a banker, I’ve been a nonprofit, I’ve worked in schools. I go where I’m planted, I grow, and I go.” That’s not what the professor wants to tell me, but that’s the truth for me Nobody expects you to be perfect Go on, you do it every day, you rock it I have.”

Tidwell talked about the importance of mentors in his life and how they helped him become who he is. But to him they were the men of his family.

“My father taught me to fear God and him,” he said with a laugh. “So he was my first mentor. He was also a disciplinarian.” But there have been strong men in my life.”

His non-profit organization on Silver Street helps promote and support children’s self-awareness and growth of their own uniqueness and individuality in the form of artistic expression. The land on which the studio is located, he said, belonged to his grandfather in the 1950s.

“Those people, my grandfather, my father and now my uncle, were the first mentors in my life..I know there are many children who do not have such strong mentors in their families. Many families don’t have fathers and grandfathers. I was lucky enough to have mine.

Rockwell, 10, the youngest of five children, said his siblings were his mentors.

“They told me what to do and what not to do,” she said. “So I was able to learn from their mistakes and bounce back from them. But my father has also been a pastor in the same church for 53 years…Leaders come in many forms and look different. I learned from my own personal children so as I said you know what you got and where you are and learn from who you can. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like, you learn.

Both have said family is their most important form of inspiration, but the various forms Rockwell alluded to could even be themselves. Tidwell explained that it is “unspoken language” for his organization.

“I can’t say for sure, but it happens organically. When they realize they’re the leader of their family and it’s up to them, hey, they see themselves as mentors.” And that self-care… look in the mirror and be like, “Hey, I’m a man.”

Rockwell agreed.

“Sometimes you need to encourage yourself and pat yourself on the back,” she said. Go out every day… you tell yourself, no matter what other people think.”

photo lazyloadgraph Hot Springs Dance Group will perform “Still I Rise” Thursday at National Park College’s Black History Month event at Student Commons. – Photo by Donald Cross of The Sentinel-Record
photo lazyloadgraph Feed My Sheep Ministry founder Gina Rockwell (left) and Cutwell 4 Kids founder Anthony Tidwell speak during a panel discussion at National Park College’s Black History Month event Thursday at Student Commons . – Photo by Donald Cross of The Sentinel-Record

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