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‘I am not a statistic’

  • Written by Tri-State Defender Newsroom

Nicole Gates is a proud author of two books and her own life – a powerful story of a modern-day Cinderella who becomes her own fairy godmother and dramatically changes her life.

Nicole Gates is a proud author of two books and her own life – a powerful story of a modern-day Cinderella who becomes her own fairy godmother and dramatically changes her life.

 Nicole Gates said amazing opportunities emerged after she made up her mind that she deserved more than her status as a single mom living paycheck to paycheck. (Courtesy photo)

In this urban version, however, Cinderella, aka Nicole, lives in the city and is mother of four remarkable daughters – Yolanda, Savanna, and twins Brooklyn and Bheanna. Shortly after the twins were born, Nicole and her husband divorce. Gates finds that she has become “an American statistic” – another single mom. The adjustment was difficult, she was living paycheck to paycheck for a while.

One day, it occurs to her that she does not have to live a life of poverty: She had the power to choose success and declare, “I am not a statistic.” Once she made up her mind that she deserved more, amazing opportunities emerged.

Gates’ journey from statistic to success is recounted and shared in her latest book, “Success Over Statistics: I Choose!” It’s widely available in bookstores, on the Internet and on AuthorHouse website.

“Shackled to my circumstances, I was the perfect storm plagued by crisis...Divorcee, Single Mother, Living Paycheck to Paycheck, No Support System, Unfamiliar Territory!,” Gates writes.

“I made a choice! I am not a statistic! I found my purpose, my gift, my walk in life and set out to build a legacy that would leave my mark on this world. Poised for greatness, I defeated the odds by understanding that I CHOOSE... Success over Statistics! This is my legacy in the making!”

Today, Gates is an author, an activist, a networker and a social entrepreneur, who embraces the good and the bad, the challenges and the opportunity.

She traveled two roads, simultaneously, to reach her current station in life. Gates took a social issue she deeply cared about and, with the right connections, turned into it a career path. As a mother, the high rate of infant mortality in Memphis was particularly distressing for her. The rate rivals those in some third-world counties.

Gates, drawing heavily upon her skills as a party-giver and event planner, founded the Infant Mortality Force of Memphis, a grassroots education and awareness organization.

“It is totally unacceptable! Our goal was to be out in the community talking to people on the grassroots level.” That led to a career that has won a house full of national awards.  Gates serves currently as the Shelby County Office of Early Children & Youth Campaign Coordinator for “All Babies Count” and “Ask First” campaigns and emerging coordinator of Project Single Moms in Memphis.

The second path she took was a road well traveled by African Americans, especially those who find themselves jobless, newly single, or newly unemployed. Gates opted to build a more financially secure future by creating and owning a business. While thumbing through Grace Magazine, she saw an advertisement for a Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association-led training program promoting small business development. In the 12-week course designed for low-income individuals, she learned principles of planning, design, management, operations and finance. After she completed the program, she got her certification as a meeting planning and started her own firm, More than A Memory Events.

“I was cheating myself, my children and my community,” Gates says. “I knew I had untapped talents, values and desires that could take me to new levels and would allow me to make a difference along the way,” she writes in her book. “I exercised the 7 Pillars of Success as a road map to the path that now lies before me.”

 In a span of two years, Gates went from a life of worrying about how to pay the bills to a life where she can save comfortably for life emergencies and future career goals.

Gates journey and subsequent achievements – as a business woman and a community health organizer – has netted a roomful of awards, including MPACT Memphis’ Community Involvement Soul of the City; Tri-State Defender Woman of Excellence; Ordinary People Magazine’s Servant Award Honoree: and 2010 BET Black Girls Rock!

Her new book is designed to remind individuals viewed by society as statistics – the unemployed, the uninsured and the underemployed – that they still have the power of choice. This week, Gates leaves for Denver to kick off her “I Choose” Tour.

(“Success Over Statistics: I Choose!” is published by AuthorHouse and is available online. The price is $30, hard cover; $20, soft cover; and $12.39 for electronic editions. You can also email Gates directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.wix.com/sosichoose/sosoichoose.)


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