Shontel Greene was born to be a statistic, but she changed her life around and was determined she would be a winner.
The sheriff’s notice of eviction didn’t come as a surprise to her parents, both who had become addicted after her nurse mother was injured at work. There was no one they could turn to so their daughter, Shontel, who’d been an A student decided she would take it on herself to help the family and solve their problems.
The teen approached her uncle who was already ensconced in the drug business and told him that she wanted to sell drugs. After all, he made good money and seems to have a great lifestyle. Doubting that this little thing could do anything, he agreed to set her up.
To his shock, Shontel became more successful than he ever had been. She was making thousands on the streets and as a Queen Pin, his niece was a threat to him so when she broke away from him, he ordered her killed. Lucky for her the gang then had morals and would not murder a teenager.
Despite her “success” as a drug dealer, there were numerous run-ins with the law in her Maryland town, and several times she found herself in jail, but it didn’t stop her.
Shontel stayed away from her uncle and continued to grow her business until she received the call that her mother was dying.
At 18, it had been years since she’d seen her mom but as she saw her mother’s grey face and took her hands, she felt sorrow that they hadn’t had a better relationship. Her mother, now suffered from dementia and AIDS had taken its toll. Shontel didn’t even know her mother would recognize her. But the woman did. With her last few breaths, mom begged her daughter to get her life together. Realizing that her life needed to change, Shontel made a vow. She would indeed make changes in her life.
Shontel had always realized that education was the way out. Even with her busy drug business, she had continued her studies. It served her well. Going before the judge as she faced her current arrest, the lawyer brought forth Shontel’s good grades hoping for some leniency. Lo and behold, the judge looked down at the teen and said, “I’m going to give you a second chance. You’ll continue with school three days a week and the rest of the time you’ll spend in jail.”
With her promise to her mom, Shontel excelled at her studies. Always interested in science she became an LVN (Licensed vocational nurse) and took a job at a local hospital. Most jobs will do a background check but because the governor had pardoned her, Shontel’s criminal history did not show up.
Transitioning from being a free agent and getting almost anything she wanted with her drug money to having to live from paycheck to paycheck, punch the clock and pay bills as most working people had to do was difficult for her at first. In fact, there were many nights when depression overwhelmed her. But Shontel fought on. Her mom had taught her “If something doesn’t work in your life, you don’t sit on it and mope, you move and you fix it.”
The program at the city college allowed her to go on for an RN degree so she advanced to that. Even so things were still hard.
Having hustled all her life, Shontel decided to go out on her own and looked around where she could do the most good. She realized that the inner city communities were often neglected when it came to health care and that is where she started her home health agency. Going into trailer parks, ghettos, and the projects — the worse part of Baltimore – she saw conditions that stunned her. It took a while before the people realized she was there to help them. Slowly, they began to trust her. Her agency grew from 10 clients to 100 and then 300. Finally, it exploded and became one of the largest home health agencies in the state. The community knew her and looked to her for help. She went the extra step for them – things that most people take for granted as book bag giveaways, fruit baskets and other small items that made their lives easier.
Loving the seniors, she saw that there was a need for an adult day care. Most of the older folks she knew sat at home vegetating in front of their TV. They needed to get out and be part of things and Shontel made sure that is what they did. She took them to places they wanted to go – casinos, parks, and made a calendar of things they wanted to do. Within 30 days of opening, her client list was filled.
Even though she now has others running the businesses under her, she still keeps control and every one of her clients has Shontel’s cell number in case there is a problem. “These are my people and I will be sure they get good care. They’re my family and I am here for them even if they don’t see me.”
Once she obtained her bachelor’s degree in nursing, Shontel went on to become a nurse educator and received a master’s degree both in nursing and in chemistry because she always loved science.
The obstacles she faced were many. Not only having to live with paychecks and timecards but dealing with others, especially law enforcement, who knew her history. “Some people don’t think change is possible when it actually is if you really want it. People see me now in my glass office and think it was easy but I’ve been robbed, kidnapped and the street life was hard. You get your money but you also get a bullet in your arm and run into other dangers. I wrote the book to promote change, to be a model for other girls and women to show that they can rise out of their circumstances. You start out one way, but change is possible. It’s not easy but nothing has to stay the way it is if you don’t like it.”
In her journey she’s been given keys to many cities and welcomed by Congresswomen and mayors. Her book: Mastermind: Born a Statistic, Determined to Die A Winner is available now in all major bookstores and book sites.