La’Toya Guillory, SchoolMint customer success specialist, explains how she lives and leads a purposely driven life in Acadiana.
When I tell people where I’m from, there’s an old-timey thriller film they think of.
Maybe you can relate. That’s the problem of being from small towns with little other claims to fame.
What I’m getting at is I’m from a small town approximately 10 minutes away from Atlantic City, New Jersey. And I’m not saying it has little to claim to fame as an insult, because Pleasantville is actually quite a pleasant place!
There’s lots of beautiful woodland out there with a sprinkle of farmland in between. It’s a quiet place, one where everyone knows everyone, and very family oriented. That’s where I grew up, with my cousins as my best friends, surrounded by my loving aunts and uncles.
From the High North to the Deep South
Today, I live with my husband down in Lafayette, Louisiana — where SchoolMint is headquartered. We’ve been here for more than 20 years now.
But I didn’t plan one day to move to Louisiana. I was one of those “military brats.” Over the course of my dad’s military career, I lived in many places.
Around age 16, we moved from San Antonio to New Orleans, where I finished my final year of high school. And living there was such a culture shock! It really wasn’t for me, though, so I decided to pursue college at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
I finished in 2006 and later went on to receive my master’s degree, but it took some time to discover my purpose in school.
For my bachelor’s degree, I started in business law. And hated it. So I tried business marketing next, but it wasn’t really my thing. I tried general studies afterward. That wasn’t for me either. Finally, I landed on child and family studies, and that’s where I found my passion: helping others.
After graduating, I started a nonprofit. I was hosting teen summits and did a lot of youth mentoring. For a long time, my focus was on summer enrichment programs in the housing projects of Lafayette’s North Side.
When Hurricane Katrina hit, I then pivoted into hurricane aid. I helped people get back on their feet and did a lot of case management, mental health support, and behavioral support.
Joining SchoolMint’s Customer Care Team
I’ve done social services in pretty much any capacity you can imagine. After 16 years of social work, though, I felt it was time for a change. While I wasn’t abandoning my passion or original line of work, I wanted to reprioritize a little and do something new as full-time work.
My husband is deeply involved with the Lafayette community, so he knew of SchoolMint and encouraged me to apply. After three interviews in the summer of 2021, I came on board as a customer success specialist.
Anything they need, I help with, whether that’s answering simple questions or meeting internally with SchoolMint’s engineers.
One day, I might be helping a school with migrating student data into their SIS. Another day, I might be discussing end-of-year plans or archiving sites. It really just depends on what “season” the school is in.
It’s not just always work work work, though. One of the great things about working at SchoolMint is how much we get to connect with our coworkers!
One of my favorite memories here happened a few months ago. I got the chance to sync up with some coworkers and coordinate a baby shower for another coworker and his wife.
We hosted the baby shower in one of SchoolMint’s big meeting rooms and got to make both parents feel special. I didn’t get any pushback, either! Everyone was willing to help, and it was awesome that SchoolMint gave us the green light to host the shower in the office and celebrate our coworker, his wife, and their new baby girl.
A Purposely Driven Life
So, here’s another fact about me: I prefer to be in the office. Because I do so much outside of it.
Outside of SchoolMint, you can find me busy with a lot of stuff:
Public speaking engagements and seminars
Individual, family, premarital, and marital counseling
With my podcast, Purposely Driven, I highlight African American individuals in South Louisiana who are doing great things. I feature people from all backgrounds — from stay-at-home moms to career professionals — and give them a platform to tell their story and inspire others.
For example, one lady on Purposely Driven meets with teens in her house and mentors them. You’ll hear a lot of stories like that: everyday people who are doing extraordinary things that you would probably never hear about otherwise.
I want to give the overlooked people of Acadiana a platform and a place for me to say, “Thank you for being who you are and for doing what you do, because we all benefit from you sharing your strengths.”
As mentioned earlier, I also offer counseling. My work is facilitated through two different companies, and with them, I’m able to provide counseling to individuals, couples, and families.
We’ll talk life, love, finances, conflict resolution, communication, roles and responsibilities, spirituality, and coming together. Sometimes clients need four sessions. Sometimes it’s six. Other times it’s eight.
While this all seems like a lot, it’s really not that bad. Everything I do works together well. I’m also very strategic about the things I say yes to. Work-life balance is one of the most important things to me, so I place great importance on being able to choose how and where I use my time.
Anything I’m asked to be a part of has to flow not only with who I am as a person but also with my family values and my work life. So I only do things that suit me so that I can still be a mother. I can still be a wife. I can still be purposely driven.
If you’re a mom, you’re a mom. If you’re a cashier, you’re a cashier. If you’re a business leader, you’re a business leader. Whatever position you hold, that’s your position. And it was given to you for a reason.