Jocelyn Allen, Notre Dame c/o 1991 is a former Pasquerilla West Most Distinguished Woman who is continuing to make her distinct mark on the world around her. In celebration of the philanthropy of the holiday season, we sat down with Allen to discuss her inspirational non-profit Divas4Life, an organization dedicated to contributing to the growth and development of young ladies.
This Detroit native was a hotshot Public Relations representative for General Motors when she realized that she could be putting her numerous work perks to a good cause as a member of a small church in East Detroit. “I was travelling all over the country for GM,” Allen explained, “and my fellow church-goers would get so excited about my travels—asking me ‘What was it like meeting Will Smith? Or how was it to go to that awards show?' ”
Allen notes that her Pastor would even reference her travels in Sunday morning sermons. “it dawned on me, not so much that I was blessed, I knew that I was blessed—it became obvious to me that I was in a position to pass it on.
It was in that moment that Jocelyn realized not only that she was so incredibly blessed, but more importantly that she was in a position to pass on these blessings. Upon receiving tickets to fabulous events, she would get permission from GM to take youth from her church to various events. “This simple act of kindness was such a momentous occasion for my fellow church-goers,” Allen recalled. “I loved hearing them talk about what they saw and who they met for months following the event!
When Allen moved on to the position of Youth Director at her church, she started working more closely with the young women of the congregation. “I wanted to expose these young ladies not just to these fabulous events, but what it means to be a professional lady,” she explained. Thus the inception of Divas4Life, a program dedicated to fostering determined, inspired, victorious, adventurous (DIVA) young women, ages 8-18. “And it wasn’t just something I felt I should do, but something that I had to do. God had placed me at that place and that time for a reason,” Allen stated.
Divas4Life is a grassroots organization that focuses on etiquette, financial literacy, career planning/education among many other things. The group of young women is thirty or less, so that each girl can get the attention she deserves. One signature event of the program is Dinner with a Diva, which is essentially a career-day type dinner that highlights the successes and struggles of an adult Diva. Another important highlight of the Divas4Life calendar is the annual Cabin Retreat to Northern Michigan, where the girls experience horseback riding, canoeing, and workshops. Allen is excited for the prospect of taking the girls to Disneyland after telling a major Disneyland executive about her work with Divas4Life.
This September, Allen was able to bring the girls to Notre Dame, which Allen credits with teaching her the importance of taking a cause and believing in it 100%. “It was the Stanford game weekend, so campus was buzzing with excitement!” she recalled. After giving the girls a self-guided tour of campus, complete with anecdotes from her time as a student, Allen and her Divas joined an incredibly accomplished group of ND Women for a luncheon workshop. The panel featured Lois Conrad-Jackson, Frances Shavers, Valerie Waller and Jackie Rucker. “I was absolutely in awe in the candor, grace and strength of these women,” Allen stated. “I gain just as much as my Divas when I get to hear the story of a successful woman. I was so grateful for this powerful conversation.” Allen was even more excited when two of her Divas left Notre Dame’s campus, abuzz with the possibility of being Domers themselves!
Interested in getting involved with Divas4Life? Whether its’ event tickets, a venue for workshops or your own story of success, Allen promises no kind deed will go unnoticed!
Jocelyn Allen, thank you for showing our young ladies how to be truly Determined, Iinspired, Victorious and Adventurous!
Your compassion is absolutely infectious!