Gloria Barksdale is a self-described Virginia farm girl who took it upon herself to teach her five younger siblings their ABCs and 123s before they began their schooling. Since then, she’s had a storied career as an educator, writer (see her writing here!), publisher, Microsoft Office Suites master instructor, and now as one of Senior Planet’s newest trainers working with the Digital Skills Ready Program!
We spoke with Gloria about her passion for education, her 20-year-old nonprofit Project MOTHER and why she’s devoted to sharing digital skills to help others, especially women, find and secure jobs, change careers, or explore entrepreneurship.
What first got you into teaching technology skills?
When I went to college and IT came out – I thought this is great!
My mother had a 9th grade education, and my grandmother had a 3rd grade education – they taught me the ways of the farm and the ways of motherhood. All the commonsense stuff to survive. When I went to college and IT came out – I thought this is great! It’s different! It’s not chopping wood or canning food, but this is something that’s going to continue to go.
I felt inspired to make sure women can grab tech by the horns and make it work for them. It’s been my lifelong calling.
What inspired you to start your nonprofit Project MOTHER?
Project Mother (Millennium Opportunities to Heal, Educate and Rehabilitate) is 20 years old now! I do it to encourage other women to get into the IT field and in every state I’ve moved to over the years, I’ve always found at least one woman who needed tech to catapult herself towards getting a raise, getting a job or becoming an entrepreneur – and I would provide that assistance.
I always tell seniors to stay in the game. And technology is protection.
Why do you think Digital Skills Ready is such an important program?
I’m a lifelong learner – I learn something new every day because for us to be successful in this world we have to at least keep pace. My family always jokes with me that I have more degrees than a thermometer! But it’s because I always felt more comfortable staying ahead of the curve, instead of behind the eight ball.
I always tell seniors to stay in the game. And technology is protection. So, take charge! Just because you had one bad experience, doesn’t mean there is no room for growth.
What does aging with attitude mean to you?
When people ask, “how old are you?” I always respond, “I’m aging divinely – I’ll be 62 this year.” They always laugh at me, but I think aging with attitude means you are confident in how you are aging – mentally, emotionally, physically and of course technologically.
Pam Hugi is Senior Planet’s Community and Advocacy Manager. Based in Brooklyn, she runs Senior Planet’s Supporter program in addition to being a contributing writer for this site. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.