UAH alumna wins Ms. Black Alabama USA, advocates for Autism awareness
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - North Alabama native and UAH alumna Birttnie Granville has a new title: Ms. Black Alabama USA 2021!
Granville earned her B.S. in Acquisition Management from UAH in 2011. After a stint with the federal government as an Operations Research Analyst, the alumna turned entrepreneur, began to work with her daughter, Brailynn Camille, who is autistic, to create a Mommy and Me brand called ‘My RICH Little Best Friend’ to encourage parents to create passive streams of income as sources to build wealth for their children.
Granville is using her platform to advocate for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) awareness.
She is also the COO of her daughter’s company, Brailynn Camille Enterprises LLC, which is the parent company of the brand and a non-profit organization, The Ausome Kid™. The purpose of the organization is to spread Autism awareness, promote acceptance and encourage inclusion of children and families who are impacted by Autism and other special needs.
In April, Brailynn’s first book in her series “Adventures of the Ausome Kid,” “Brailynn goes to Paris, France,” was published. The series focuses on encouraging children to let their imagination take them on educational adventures around the world.
Granville has also used her title to encourage literacy in children by reading and donating over 150 books to local elementary schools, helping dancers at performing arts studio, speaking to groups of young girls and supporting national causes during their respective months, such as Women’s History Month, Autism Acceptance Month, Endometriosis Awareness Month, Mental Health Awareness Month and others.
Born and raised in Florence, Alabama, the UAH alumna has been involved with pageants for much of her life, depending on her inner strength to lift her above the day-to-day challenges she was facing.
“I got my confidence from within,” Granville notes. “In high school I was bullied and would even get in trouble when I retaliated. I asked my grandmother why people disliked me so much when I had never done anything to deserve it? She informed me that they saw a light in me that they do not have, and they are trying to put out my fire because they are jealous. At that moment, I stopped being hard on myself, ignored the disgusting remarks of the bullies, and started embracing who I was and what I had to offer my community. I increased my self-esteem by nurturing my creative side with fashion and dancing. This is how I really recognized my full potential.”
With so many irons in the fire and a growing daughter to care for, one has to wonder if she ever struggles to keep up with it all?
“Absolutely! There are times where everything gets so overwhelming,” Granville admits. “However, life doesn’t stop and cater to your lifestyle. At that point, I take a step back and create a list of things that need to be done on which day. It is imperative to me, as the mom, to NOT be under the pressure of sticking to a strict schedule. I say this, because if one thing goes wrong within that schedule, it could throw the whole day off. In life, things happen unexpectedly, so we must learn to adjust to circumstances and be as flexible as possible to avoid feeling like your whole day (or routine) has fallen apart. Starting my day with my intentions set regardless of what comes my way has really helped me manage!”
The alumna says the impetus to launch her Mommy and Me brand with her daughter grew out of a burning desire not only to help child, but ultimately to raise awareness in society in general about the kind of obstacles children with ASD can experience.
“What pushed me the most was how society treated my daughter,” Granville says. “She was often misunderstood, overlooked or manipulated. When I started noticing that in her everyday life, I realized society is not going to cater to her needs. As I watched her with other children, her peers, and even other adults and family that didn’t necessarily understand, it became apparent that everyone wasn’t just ‘mean,’ they were just ‘unaware.’ With that epiphany, I set out to spread Autism awareness, promote acceptance and encourage inclusion of children with Autism so that society will realize how much greatness they can contribute to the world.”
When asked what is it like to realize there are people out there who see her as a role model, particularly young girls, women and children of color, Granville doesn’t shy from that responsibility.
“This is very important to me! I want them to see that I am a real woman who has been through various struggles and has made mistakes in life but still prevailed. A lot of Black women feel that becoming a single mom is the end of the world and opt to stay in abusive,
degrading relationships for the sake of a ‘family.’ Some believe that just because they aren’t as smart as their peers or have special needs that they can’t make their mark in society. I want every girl and woman of color to know that they can be and do anything they want! If there is no lane for it, then create it! This is what we are doing with my daughter’s business. She is the 2021 Youth Entrepreneur of the Year. There was no lane for a little black girl with Autism Spectrum Disorder; so we made one.”
Granville will be competing at the national Ms. Black USA pageant in August. No matter the outcome, she says she will continue to build on her dreams and passions.
“In the future, I plan to continue my advocacy for Autism acceptance, awareness and inclusion. I hope to book speaking engagements and host trainings on how to be kind to those who are different. My goal is to create ways to give back to my community to assist impacted families and provide them with resources. I do feel like major companies like hotel chains and airlines need training on how to be treat those with special needs who enjoy the luxuries of travel. I would also like to target the workforce on how they can really support those with Autism by providing them with jobs and allowing them to be more independent with the appropriate training. I will be open to any new opportunities that come my way where I can make a positive difference in the world.”
Granville is a member of multiple service organizations that give back to the community, including the UAH Omicron Zeta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Greater Huntsville Chapter, and the Black Girl Social Club. Her passion for helping others has expanded internationally to support the Kliptown Youth Program in Soweto, South Africa, with money and school supplies, as well as contributing efforts to the Clean Water Initiative with the KMJ Foundation to provide clean water for developing villages in Accra, Ghana, Africa.
The Ms. Black USA Organization is the first and oldest scholarship pageant for women of color, awarding over $500,000 in scholarships.
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