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Rising Stars: Meet Brianna Clark of Gaithersburg, Maryland

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brianna Clark.

Alright, thank you for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us how you got started?
My life story resembles the symbolic nature of the life cycle of a phoenix. I rise from the ashes while my strength grows like the roots of willow trees. At a young age, I saw each challenge, opportunity, and person introduced into my life as a lesson that led to a path of success and a better version of myself.

Born in Washington, DC, I grew up in a place where every day seemed like the Fourth of July. Shots would hit your window, and no one knew where they came from. Imagine the type of kid who reads an encyclopedia before riding a bike. Funny enough, I was still very athletic, juggling basketball, track, and cheerleading due to being a natural-born dancer. Quickly, I became aware of my surroundings and wanted to separate myself from stereotypes and analytics about people of color, Afro-Latinas, women, etc. I’ve been bullied by many who say I “talk white” because of my intellect or I’m “not Hispanic” because my hair doesn’t grow fast or long. True ignorance stems from a lack of understanding. I learned not to give power to those who didn’t understand who I was. These cautions remained a concern as I became the eldest of 7, while my parents struggled financially in a 2 bedroom apartment with 9 people.

Hacking started as a hobby sending cryptic messages to my best friend using steganography. I can genuinely say I started learning cybersecurity because I got my heart broken and was cheated on through a series of long-term relationships. I hacked in small ways to gain information on my significant other because he would hide or delete messages. Still, quickly I saw the light in the ethical and legal part of Ethical Hacking! Lol! At that time, I would’ve been considered a black hat, a criminal hacker with malicious intent, or a grey hat, a computer expert who sometimes violates the law with good intent. Now, I’m considered a white hat Ethical Hacker who uses their skill with good intent to benefit the organization.

In 2020, I graduated from The University of Tampa with a Cybersecurity Degree from The College of Business. Growing up, I wanted to study the minds of serial killers, rapists, and terrorists to determine the cause behind their actions. People went out of their way to acknowledge my ability to understand the psychology of their words and actions. I transferred this niche to technology. During college, I worked under the Director of Information Technology. Developing a passion for Digital Forensic Investigation, I had an eye-opening experience shadowing the FBI at the Cybersecurity Threat Center in Tampa. After college, I found my way back to Maryland to bring my knowledge and experiences to help build the DC, Maryland, and Virginia areas and teach the youth to attain generational wealth, awareness, and our goals for climate change. As an independent Cybersecurity Consultant, I reached out to people I knew and local businesses.

While trying to build an empire, I started back up chasing my dreams with professional modeling, acting, and dancing. I say “started back up” because my passion began as a little girl drawing on my sketch pad and walking in my mom’s heels. Chasing my acting dream, I tried out for a Disney casting call and got the part, but my parents could not afford the costs of my career. As nervous as I was moving forward, I danced to my favorite Ciara song, “One, Two Step,” in front of the whole Meadow Hall Elementary School, and the rest was history. Dance is what quiets the world when things get crazy. When I walk into the room, people watch. After hearing people compliment my looks for years, I stepped into the modeling industry and started taking professional photos. I performed at countless shows and walked on the runway by the time I graduated college. I gained global exposure. I put myself out there as a personal brand, dancer, and public figure by creating social media pages, blogs, and websites.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been smooth?
Out of all the words in the encyclopedia, I can say smooth isn’t a word to describe the road I have been on. You may want to highlight all the positive things that made you successful, but struggle defines you. To be considered outside the norm, you have to take risks. You have to do what most wouldn’t spend the time to do. I learned time was the most expensive and valuable asset I owned.

At a very young, I found out my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer, and amongst having severe asthma, he had one lung removed. He still pushes every day to coach professional and upcoming local athletes. At the same time, local doctors told my mother that she might not live to see my high school graduation due to back-to-back life-threatening pregnancy difficulties and being diagnosed with Endometriosis. My entrepreneurial spirit kicked in at 8, selling candy bars at school while I was helping my uncle, who passed away, deliver newspapers on the back of his truck. By 12, I was the eldest of seven siblings—each with different personalities but the same heart. In 2016, I continued working full-time at Giant during and after graduating high school to support my family.

Life gifts trials and tribulations; in my case, life presents many. In 2020, My grandma had a stroke resulting in dementia and whole body paralyzation. Thus, I picked up three jobs at once to pay for my first year of college because there was no way a loan was coming. Months later, my grandfather suffered a stroke resulting in the loss of a kidney and paralyzation. My father is a full-time nurse for my grandparents. I battled depression, social anxiety, bullying, rape, abuse, and maintaining my health.

I overcame many unique and common circumstances to get where I am today, including being mistaken for another woman of a color contestant, not receiving a pageant wardrobe the day of a show, betrayal from close friends and family, financial setbacks, failed expectations, procrastination, and health. And lack of focus, trying to climb a ladder of success, and not wanting to bring everyone along with you is difficult. Seeing the world on my shoulders, eventually, the world wanted me to focus on the woman I was becoming. As a kid, you read and watch cartoons, tv shows, and movies with characters that have different superpowers. All are powerful and come with great responsibility. I see myself as a protector. Growing up, I knew my destiny was greater than mine.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I’m a DC, Maryland, and Virginia-based professional model, dancer, and public figure. Working with numerous brands, photographers, and other creative artists, I use modeling and creative arts to express emotions and life struggles. I have a global presence, including social media, short films, nationally-televised pageants, fashion ad campaigns, editorials, and print publications. I walked on the runway at Miss Maryland USA 2022 and Miss Maryland Earth 2022 while gaining massive support from the community due to charitable service. The pageant consisted of an in-person panel interview, opening number, runway portion, swimsuit, and evening gown. With every strut on the stage, I could feel my confidence leveling. I performed in many local schools, shows, and scholarship competitions. I partnered with Happy Helpers for the Homeless to assist in packing food and supplies for 2,000+ homeless youth in the Maryland area. In Baltimore, MD, I worked with Maryland Waterways Foundation and became a member of CCA Maryland to help clean the Chesapeake Bay. If you want change, you must be part of the solution. With my degree, I’m an independent Cybersecurity Consultant and Investment Manager. I specialize in ethical hacking, penetration testing, coding, and networking. Penetration testing involves evaluating the IT infrastructure of a business to identify and exploit vulnerabilities to prevent hackers from stealing confidential information, crucial resources, and data. I also help people create investment portfolios and make lots of money trading stock, options, or foreign exchange.

Where we are in life is often partly because of others. Who/what else deserves credit for how your story turned out?
Many people played a role in my overall success. The strength of my mom and dad, Tiffany Jackson and Ronnie Miles, will carry my passions far. My family has been amazing with helping with hair, make-up, and emotional healing when necessary. One of those 9 people at the beginning of my story is my Aunt Kris, who passed away. She inspired me to become a model and define beauty as the aura you exude from who you are on the inside. The best cheerleader I could ask for and the person to call to drive 2 hours to pick up an evening gown hours before a show is my boyfriend and his family business, The Pest Whisperer. I’d like to thank Crownbound Pageant Consulting, based in Baltimore, MD, and Mr. Pageant Coach for all my amazing prep walking and interview sessions. My incredible sponsors are to thank for my progression in the pageantry world and to participate. All contestants are encouraged to participate in pageant sponsorships. I reach out to local businesses, community leaders, and owners who want to gain exposure for their business, themselves, or help a local cause. Please donate to I Care LLC to help fund wardrobe for upcoming state, and national pageants and all other proceeds will go towards local charities and businesses.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Rodgers Polk Photography Rezanation Media

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