Faces of LIFE- Dr. Kiki Ramsey
Faces of LIFE- Dr. Kiki Ramsey, Alumni, Master’s in Positive Psychology
“Purposely Choosing My Life’s Path”
Dr. Kiki Ramsey graduated from the Master’s in Positive Psychology program at Life University (Life U) in 2016. She has since garnered a Ph.D. in Business Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology at their District of Colombia (D.C.) campus and is currently living with her husband Dr. Jamil Ramsey in Atlanta, Georgia.
Dr. Ramsey was born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina where she experienced a very difficult childhood because her mother Lucy, whom she lost in 2009, suffered from a drug addiction. Dr. Ramsey said that her life could have been the same as her mother, but she purposefully chose a different path.
“Because of that, I really grew up sleeping on a couch in a crack house. It was very difficult, but early on I knew that I had a sense of purpose in my life. I knew that this current situation wasn’t the situation I was always going to be in. I knew that I was made to do so much more, and so one night when I was sitting on that couch in the crack house, I made a promise to myself that no matter what bad things happened, I was going to be successful,” shared Dr. Ramsey.
Dr. Ramsey was very young when she made this commitment to herself, and she also mentioned that she had other good people around her, such as her teachers, to support her in her efforts to be successful. Her mother was also very supportive of her and always encouraged her. Both daughter and mother challenged each other to do better, although at times it was difficult to push her mother because she was dealing with such a horrible disease.
“When I talk about my mom, they (other people) think she is a bad person. Regardless of her faults, she was a person, and she was amazing. And no matter what, I knew she loved me, but she had a disease,” Dr. Ramsey said.
Another anchor for Dr. Ramsey was regularly going to church. She lived in the projects, and the local church would send a bus to pick up the children and bring them to church for classes and teach them about God. The church made it fun and gave them snacks, so Dr. Ramsey looked forward to going on Sundays. Going to church created a belief in God within her. Sometimes her mother would go to church, and when she and her mother were living with her grandmother, they would go together.
“I chose to believe the good, not just the bad, and positivity was one of those things I cling to,” Dr. Ramsey shared about her faith.
It was still a tough mountain to climb to not develop the bad habits that she witnessed.
“As I was young, it was really, really difficult, and I developed some of the same bad habits in terms of other people,” said Dr. Ramsey. She continued to share, saying, “I began looking for love in all the wrong places, i.e. sex and different stuff like that. I never succumbed to drugs because I saw what it did to her, and I just did not want that for my life.”
Growing up, according to Dr. Ramsey, she had a bad attitude toward her mother. At the same time, she had a great need and longing to be successful because she wanted to show her mother and the world at large that she could do better. Through all of this, Dr. Ramsey’s mother was her biggest supporter even though they pushed back and forth and had many clashes with one another. There were times when they experienced a role reversal in their relationship. Her mother did go to treatment several times, and unfortunately each time, the addiction would overcome her.
For Dr. Ramsey, her turning point occurred when she was 16 years old and found herself pregnant. Still in high school and scared, she turned to her mother for support. Dr. Ramsey was also ashamed and felt as though others would be looking at her, pointing at her failures and seeing her as just another statistic. Her fear was “Now what will people say about me?”
“One of the things my mom did […] she sat me down, and she said, ‘Now, I know that this is going to be difficult for you; you’re going to be able to do it, and I am going to be here with you the entire time’,”, said Dr. Ramsey.
She shared that although her mother had this drug addiction, she was still high functioning, loving and held a job. She helped Dr. Ramsey with the baby and saw to it that Dr. Ramsey not only finished high school, but also graduated with the class in which she started her high school career. One of Dr. Ramsey’s main reasons for sharing her story is to illustrate that addiction is very destructive, but it does not define who that person is.
After high school, her godmother talked with her about the small college she had attended. Dr. Ramsey’s godmother wanted her to visit the school to see if it would be right for her. At first, Dr. Ramsey was very reluctant, because it was a small school in Kentucky. Eventually, however, she relented and went with her godmother to visit Berea College. This changed her whole perspective. Berea College’s mission is to serve the underserved by giving them free tuition and catering to non-traditional students, such as Dr. Ramsey, who had a child.
“And that was the beginning of, I would say, the healing process,” said Dr. Ramsey.
While in college, Dr. Ramsey learned about herself and forgave her mother for the childhood traumas that came along with her mother’s disease. She graduated from Berea College with a bachelor’s degree in Child Development and Family Studies, but she always had an interest in psychology. She eventually went to the University of Georgia and got her first master’s degree in social work and met her now husband. While she was working in the child welfare system and then in medical social work, she worked with “moms who were addicted while pregnant. See how life takes you back to where you have been?” asked Dr. Ramsey.
Her work in the hospital made her realize she had more to do and to offer. For her, it was public speaking. She shared a story when one of her high school teachers asked her to speak at schools on the dangers of teen pregnancy, and if she did, they would pay for her childcare. She accepted.
“I realized that I had a gift of communication. I’m meant to speak in front of […] people, especially women because that is where my heart is at,” explained Dr. Ramsey.
In 2009, Dr. Ramsey quit her job and created her own company called Kiki Ramsey International, the same year that her mother passed away from pancreatic cancer. She dedicated her business to her mother in service of other women. As she was speaking, women would ask her for help on how to further use the information she spoke about in their daily lives. This led to her next chapter at Life University and getting her Master’s in Positive Psychology (MPSY), which she found on someone’s blog. She was especially excited to see that a university offered a master’s degree and not just a certification. After her one-hour conversation with Dr. Richard E. Shook, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychology at Life U in the College of Graduated and Undergraduate Studies, she went online, filled out all the paperwork and signed up for the program.
Since then, Dr. Ramsey has become the Founder and CEO of The Positive Psychology Coaching and Diversity Institute, which employs 30 coaches, at least five who also graduated from the MSPP program at Life U. Getting her doctorate degree was a challenge presented to her by her husband and Dr. Mickey Parsons, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Life U. Dr. Parsons told her he always saw her becoming a doctor, and when her husband decided to get his doctorate in technology, he asked her how she would feel seeing him walk across the stage without her being on the stage too. She answered him by registering for school even before he did.
Her advice to her fellow alumni? “You have a purpose, and your job is to figure out what your purpose is and really share it with the world.”
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