1st Annual B&F Rising Star Awards

Rising StarsEvery February while growing up, we all learned about inspirational African-Americans who made a mark in history.  But what about inspirational African-Americans who are making or will be making a mark in history?

Luckily, we don’t have to wonder any longer.  Below are seven fascinating individuals—each with unique stories and backgrounds.  They are Marc Childs Moore, Brandon Chalmers, Candice Hale, Marquis Heath, Trey Moe, Kevin Peterson, and Latrisa Pugh.  Each have been asked the following two questions:

(1) What do you currently do? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

(2) How does your heritage help or hurt you in the path toward reaching your goals?

Marc Childs Moore

“I work in Copyright for BMG Chrysalis, the music arm of Bertelsmann Media Conglomerate.  Specifically, I work in music publishing www.bmgchrysalis.com.  I also play violin with the Grammy-nominated blues legend, Phil Wiggins. We perform throughout the country.  In 5 years, I see myself running my own arts company and developing as an expert in artist rights.

Being from Marion, Alabama prepares you for hardwork.  You work hard not because you expect some magnificent reward, but because your work is your reputation.  The quality of your work is a reflection of your seriousness of purpose.  I was taught ‘to whom much is given, much is expected’ and I carry that philosophy with me in all of my work.  There is a serious lack of resources and opportunities in the Alabama Blackbelt.  As a result, when one receives a blessing, we try to make the most of it and hopefully share that blessing with others.”

Brandon Chalmers

“I work in Higher Education at The University of Alabama.  More specifically, I help coordinate one of the university’s graduate programs.  You can find me at http://brandonchalmers.net/.

In 5 years, I hope to still be working in higher education.  It’s a labor of love; I really enjoy working with college students of all levels.  I previously worked with incoming freshman and transfer students, and I now work with graduate students.  Ideally, I would like to work with undergraduates again as I feel like there is something a bit more unique when you capture college students the first time around.

I think that being an African American male certainly created barriers that I had to overcome to get where I am today.  But as for my future trajectory, I don’t feel like I could encounter any obstacle that I couldn’t overcome.  A person I consider a mentor and a role model at the university once told me that he had been passed over for promotions before when he had performed the brunt of the work that got someone else recognized.  He told me to me to keep working hard and add credentials to my body of work and the opportunities would present themselves. He said ‘get your credentials and no one can deny that.’ Good sound advice for anybody to live off of.”

Candice Hale

“I’m currently working on my PhD in English at LSU.  I am concurrently teaching English composition classes, literature classes, and WGS classes for freshman to senior students.  In five years, I see myself professionally in an academic setting at a community college or a small liberal arts college teaching English comp and literature courses.  I would hope to remain in the South and enjoy my family.  I would hope at this point, I would, too, be married and enjoying family and my career as a professor in its fullest capacity.

I sometimes believe that my identity as a biracial black woman has its advantages and disadvantages in the college setting.  At times, it affords me advantages as one of the only “token” students or instructors of color because there are no others to fill a quota.  Then, at times, to be the student/instructor of color in these academic settings can make me appear hyper-invisible as if I do not exist to anyone.  To be overlooked and to experience these covert experiences of institutionalized racism can be very damaging to a workspace and a community.  And while I’ve experienced these types of racist situations and micro-aggressions from colleagues (but not my students), I’ve still managed to succeed academically and professionally.  With my own determination and perseverance to help others in my communities, I know that my experiences are important to the literary world and my social world. I enjoy teaching and spreading the word to all lovers of literature and critical thinkers.”

Marquis Heath

“I am a General Dentist at Rural Health Medical Program, Inc, a non-profit medical clinic under the Health Resources and Services Administration umbrella. I am also an associate dentist at West Princeton Dental Clinic and Clinical Professor at Fortis Institute.

In five years, I plan on being in a very similar position, as I am on the early end of my career.  I do not foresee any major changes in that short period.  A major goal is to incorporate and obtain 501(3)(c) status for my non-profit, which will serve to increase the affordability of dental care and dental education for those who need it.

My heritage has helped me by instilling in me the humility that allows me to be more compassionate in my field.  An often overlooked component of our heritage is the affinity for looking out for others—sticking together.  Being a beneficiary of that mindset, I will always have the goal of helping others.”

Trey Moe

“I’m a comedian and an entrepreneur of a few online businesses.  In five years, I will be working on my third stand up special, owning a few apartment complexes, and more than likely living in LA, but I will also have a place in ATL.

I come from a tough neighborhood and growing up we didn’t have much financially.  But regardless of what was going on outside, there was a plethora of love inside of our house at all times.  Not having much as a kid made it easy for me to make the move to LA.  My up-bringing taught me how to survive in any city—no matter the situation or financial struggles.  Being successful in something that goes against the norm and takes perseverance. It is all about weathering the storm and how much punishment can you take before quitting.  But I’ve been taking punishment my whole life so this LA struggle feels painless.”

Facebook.com/TreyMoeShow

Kevin Peterson

“I make YouTube videos and maintain an active social media presence. I’ve establish a decently audience of “fans” and engage with them any way I can using the internet. Since the internet changes and evolves rapidly, I have no idea where I’ll be in 5 years.  Hopefully my success will increase to the point that I will be more financially independent and be able to do more ambitious projects.

I don’t consciously think about my ‘heritage’ that much, but I grew up poor and I am black and I think the perspective I have gained from those experiences informs what I create and my viewpoints which obviously come across in my videos.  There aren’t very many “mega successful” black YouTubers, but it’s not a thing I think about as being a hindrance.  I feel that I have as much of a chance to make it as anyone else.”

Famous People That Are My Age (YOUTUBE)

Latrisa Pugh

“I am an accountant and instructor at The University of Alabama for the Division of Student Affairs.  As an accountant, I act as a liaison for the various departments under this umbrella which is anything that has to do with student life (housing, recreations center, career center, student media, etc).  As an instructor through the UA Honors College, I teach a financial freedom seminar class each semester. I am also the founder of Educational Cash Flow Youth Program where we teach financial education to youth and adults.  Currently, I am partnered with the LIFT program through the UA School of Accountancy to teach adults and students in the community.

Five years from now, I should have passed exams to be licensed in financial planning and public accounting. I do plan on continuing to work in higher education and move up in my career track. I also hope that the nonprofit be working throughout the state of Alabama and many families lives have changed for the better financially.

My heritage is very important to my career path. It has really been a driving force.  It has helped me with my goals because I do understand the many sacrifices that have been made.  The career path I have chosen is to improve the current and next generations.  I have a responsibility to make sacrifices of my own.”

Cheers to the first annual Baxter & Friends’ Rising Stars!

Top 5 Cars Under $3000 | Baxter

Recently, I wrote a blog entry (Click Here) that said the biggest money mistake in my early adult years was wasting a perfectly good $3000 savings on a down payment and loan for a $13,000 nearly new NISSAN Versa Hatchback.  If you re-read a bit further, you will see that I ended up paying $20,000 for that car, which I plan to drive until it dies a slow death.  But writing that blog made me wonder: what if I was smart enough to just buy a car with straight cash for $3000?  What could I have gotten?

For this exercise, I assume that all cars are being bought from a private party via Craigslist, newspaper classifieds, or some other method that is not a dealership.  As of February 2015, in no particular order, my top 5 list of used cars under $3000 is as follows:

1) Mercedes-Benz C-Class (2001 Model)

According to Kelley Blue Book, I can get this entry level luxury sedan in good condition for $2748.  That’s quite a steal if you ask me.  Plus, it still looks pretty slick for a car that’s almost 15 years old.

01 MB C-Class

2) BMW X5 (2000 Model)

This shnazy sports activity vehicle was the very first vehicle every produced in the United States by BMW.  If it were not for the success of this vehicle and others like it, the economy of the South would not be as strong and diversified as it is today.  This SUV is available currently for between $2700 and $3200.  But if you play your cards right, I’m sure you can get someone to sell you one for $2500 or lower.

02 BMW X5

3) Ford Mustang (2003 Model)

If you can find this car in excellent condition (which likely), you can buy it for under $3000.  In fact, KBB says that we should be able to buy one for $2964. That’s a real deal.  Pump up the engine package and the price will rise, but it is still very affordable.  The price is main reason why this is usually everyone’s first sports car.

03 Ford Mustang

4) Honda Civic (2002 Model)

This right here is ol’ reliable.  If you need a car and do not have a lot of money, then the Honda Civic is your car.  Not to mention, several independent body shops specialize in Honda vehicles so this makes maintenance very affordable as well.  Did I mentioned that it has whopping 28 MPG in the city and 36 MPG on the highway?

04 Honda Civic

5) Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Regular Cab (2002 Model)

I honestly do not have a preference for the F-150, Silverado, or Ram—all of them are good sturdy trucks for every day normal use.  Not only that, they tend to be cheaper than other vehicles but are still very easy to sell once you decide to upgrade in car.

05 Chevy Silverado

What’s your Top 5? 

Why I Traded My $300 Hoopty for a $13,000 Car and a $20,000 Loan

MirageA few weeks before I got married in late summer 2011, I suddenly wanted to buy a new car.  In fact, I felt I deseeeerved a new car.  Up until that point, I was perfectly fine with my loyal yet atrocious 1998 Mitsubishi Mirage that was gifted to me during my junior year of college.  However, at this point in time, the pressure of an approaching wedding and the excitement of an out-of-town bachelor party made me yearn to become what I thought to be a real adult—a person with a car loan and a credit score.

In my naivety, I searched online for a car and found a “good deal” on a 2010 NISSAN Versa during the 2012 car season.  To be fair, it actually was a good deal if I didn’t also have $25,000+ in student loans around my neck.  Despite this previous debt, I pressed forward towards purchasing my car.

With $3000 as a down payment, I marched down to the dealership to test drive my future auto.  It felt so good to hold the grip of a new steering wheel beneath my fingers, to have air conditioning and automatic locks for the first time ever, to utilize a functioning horn once more, and to hear the music from a working car radio again.  It was a thrill. It was an intoxication.  It was a gateway drug.

As it happens, all gateway drugs eventually lead to death or debt—my experience was no exception.

While my journey to a new car was smiles and rainbows on the dealership lot, it quickly became frowns and thunderstorms once I entered the financing office.  What was once a $13,000 car inflated into total payments of $20,000—and that’s only because I paid the loan off three years early.  These payments included a meager down-payment, bloated interest charges, high tax fees, an unnecessary maintenance pre-payment plan, and a ludicrous invention called gap insurance.

Never has Proverbs 22:3 been so true: “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.”

Simple I was. So simple that I thought I pulled one over on the dealership.  Trust me folks, you will never pull one over on a dealership.  Salespeople are professionals, they study you, and they know how to push your buttons.  Please use my experience as words of caution: if you don’t have the money to pay something in full, then you can’t afford it!

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As a bit of fun, I know it will take some digging, but what are some good cars that I can purchase now for $3000 that would be better than buying a new car for thousands more?