At 28 years old, Keyana Darling is a dedicated and determined young mother of two boys, 8-year-old Logan and 4-year-old Giovanni, who is quite the little character.
Her sons keep her very busy, but that is nothing new to her because her life has been nonstop since graduating high school.
Darling grew up in Chicago, where she attended high school and, from there, came alone to Houston in 2012 to attend Texas Southern University.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do or what I was going to study. I didn’t have any guidance or anyone telling me what I was supposed to do,” she said.
While at TSU she joined the Sister 2 Sistah mentoring program, co-founded by Rebecca Briscoe and Nakia Cooper. The two women, who have flourishing careers in media and government, are both alumni of the university.
“Through the programs, charity events and even the long talks we had just about life in general, I feel that my mentors gave me that extra push,” Darling said. “The stories you shared with me about your struggle made me know that I could make it too.”
Briscoe and Cooper stress the importance of sisterhood, giving back and getting “all of your letters” when it comes to higher education.
Darling listened. After receiving her Bachelor’s in Communication, she did as advised, and obtained a Master’s in Professional Communications and Digital Media, with a minor in marketing.
Still, life had challenges, as Darling gave birth to both of her sons during her college journey. Juggling classes, extracurricular activities, community service events – all while “growing up” alongside her boys – was not easy, but she was determined to land on her feet.
Like many college graduates, Darling did not initially land a job in her field of study and went into education, still yearning for the moment when she would get her big break.
And as the old folks say, that is when “God stepped in.”
Can someone give me a chance?
February 12. Darling wrote a long post on LinkedIn detailing how she had been a single mother in college who graduated with honors, but after five years of teaching, was ready to transition out of the classroom. Darling was heartwarming and somewhat heartbreaking in her transparency, sharing that she had received roughly 943 rejection emails from large and small corporations.
To say that post went viral is an understatement. It garnered 9,819 likes, 708 comments, 65 shares and 704,534 impressions.
April 5. Darling received an email from Sandra Galvis, of Microsoft, who told her that she stumbled across the post. Galvis shared that she loved the young woman’s story and felt that her unique background would possibly be a great fit for the team.
They scheduled a call to further discuss and, from there, Galvis introduced her to another team member, Cindy Healy.
Healy further gave hope to the young mother after expressing, “I love giving people a chance.”
Darling said she was told to send in her resume, and with the way the stars were aligning in her favor, decided to go above and beyond with what she was to present.
With the help of another woman she met due to the post, Marlo Lyons, she created a video resume that she sent to the Microsoft team. They told her they loved it!
Three rounds of interviews later, she received news she never imagined would happen in her lifetime.
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Introducing Keyana Darling, M.A., Business Program Manager – Microsoft
June 22. Darling received and accepted an offer which she explains changed her life, more than doubling her previous salary.
“I cried for four days straight. I sat back and thought about the times when I had to sleep on a friend’s floor with my kids because I didn’t have a place at the moment, the times I couldn’t afford to eat but made sure my babies were okay, the times where I wanted to give up and not finish school, the times where I was told that I wouldn’t be anything in life because I had my kids so young,” she said. “These weren’t sad tears; they were happy tears.”
Darling said she is blessed to be with a company that truly cares about its employees.
“Dreams come true at Microsoft! The company goes above and beyond to make sure we are taken care of, also valuing work-life balance and the culture of the company. From day one, my manager and entire team made me feel welcome. “
Darling has advice for anyone who is striving to accomplish their dreams.
“What I’ve learned from this transition in my life is to not give up. Manifest what is yours. Write it down, what is meant for you will come to you,” she said. “If something isn’t happening how you want it, it’s not time for you to get it. Take your time. Be patient. Stay consistent. Never give up!”
Today, Darling is hard at work establishing a college scholarship in her name for low-income mothers, which will be distributed under the Sister 2 Sistah umbrella, keeping in alignment with the motto of giving a “hand up, not a hand out.”