An Interview With Candice Georgiadis
Keep a “wins” list. Make a list of all the wins you’ve had or times you’ve gotten back up when things went awry. Refer to the list anytime you need a boost.
As a part of our series about “dreamers who ignored the naysayers and did what others said was impossible”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Elise Jenkins
Established in 2022, Elise Jenkins founded Ella’s House in response to the struggles she faced when she chose to obtain her college degree and have her daughter at 21 years old. Jenkins wanted to create a safe place in Nashville for women to be empowered in their choice to continue their education and become a parent. Upholding their core values of providing holistic help to balance education, health, and family, Ella’s House is designed as a place of refuge that connects peers in similar circumstances, provides physical and mental health resources, and supports women as they pursue their degrees.
Offering a sanctuary for mothers and expecting mothers who are full-time students, the organization provides basic necessities such as housing, food, community, and childcare resources as well as support with tutoring, career advising, educational grant and scholarship assistance, parenting, and life skills. Ella’s House’s support creates a pathway to success for these women to earn a degree and achieve their goals.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit better. Can you tell us your ‘backstory’?
I grew up in Nashville and moved away for college to attend Auburn University. During my final semester of college, I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant. While I was lucky enough to be living at home while completing my internship in Nashville, I was isolated from most of my friends at the time. My parents and then-boyfriend (now my husband) Zach were so supportive but I have never felt more alone in my entire life. That feeling was what eventually helped to spur the creation of Ella’s House — a place where pregnant and parenting collegiate women can find connection, support, and community.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We are currently working to move in our first resident as well as planning our first fundraiser! We are so excited to start welcoming women into this community and to see how a supportive and communal space in Nashville can help shape their future.
In your opinion, what do you think makes your company or organization stand out from the crowd?
Being the first space for pregnant and parenting collegiate women in Nashville, we are excited to be trailblazers. By offering support, community, and wellness resources, we can offer a holistic approach to helping women while partnering with various community organizations to ensure we can provide the best of Nashville for them.
Ok, thank you for that. I’d like to jump to the main focus of this interview. Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us? What was your idea? What was the reaction of the naysayers? And how did you overcome that?
I am definitely my own worst enemy so the memory that stands out most would be my first week after finding out I was pregnant. I hadn’t seen or known anyone else who had been pregnant in college and graduated so I had no roadmap to follow. I was convinced that I wouldn’t be able to get my degree and have my baby and was terrified at what that meant for the future. Unfortunately, I knew some people who were also convinced it couldn’t be done and were pretty vocal about their options on what I should do.
In the end, how were all the naysayers proven wrong? 🙂
I have a baby (actually two now) and a degree! And now a business that helps women achieve their goals of having both as well! We hope that women feel supported in whatever path they choose and that we can provide them with the resources and space to be encouraged no matter what!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My mom has absolutely been my rock. From the day I showed her my positive pregnancy test to working as our Director of Operations at Ella’s House now, she has been supportive and encouraging through it all. I can’t imagine many people who are willing to jump all in at the idea of a brand new non-profit but she has been a driving force and wealth of knowledge since the very beginning of this journey.
It must not have been easy to ignore all the naysayers. Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share the story with us?
An experience that really built my resilience would be my leukemia diagnosis when I was a child. The summer after I turned 11, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). After three failed rounds of chemo, I received radiation and ultimately a bone marrow transplant that saved my life. Beating cancer as a child and having a lot of “lows” that year really helped shape a lot of the persistence and determination I have today.
Based on your experience, can you share 5 strategies that people can use to harness the sense of tenacity and do what naysayers think is impossible? (Please share a story or an example for each)
- Keep a “wins” list. Make a list of all the wins you’ve had or times you’ve gotten back up when things went awry. Refer to the list anytime you need a boost.
- Keep a “time confetti” list. One of my favorite IG influencers, @lizmoody, came up with the idea that keeping a list of little things that make life feel special or fun is a great way to turn bad days around. Some examples include: going for a walk, cuddling a pet, doing four rounds of box breathing, and calling a friend.
- Surround yourself with cheerleaders. Keep friends and family who support you close by!
- Work to change your mindset. This one has been more challenging personally, but looking at failures or setbacks as stepping stones is a huge part of being resilient. If we can look at our failures as data to move forward instead of a sign to stop it can change our whole outlook.
- Selectively listen. We have the luxury of picking and choosing whose advice or criticism we listen to. Blocking out the really negative feedback and focusing on those who build you up and can constructively criticize is so important.
What is your favorite quote or personal philosophy that relates to the concept of resilience?
Go big or go home! This has been a favorite of mine since I was a child and really speaks to giving life 110%. When we give things our all, we invite failure but also the possibility of really amazing experiences.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I would love to see Ella’s Houses nationwide! Outside of that, I think encouraging people to give their time to things they believe in could create such a culture shift. Saint Francis of Assisi said that “for it is in giving that we receive.” Focusing more on others and less on ourselves would cause a world of good.
Can our readers follow you on social media?
Absolutely! My personal is @elisemarie37 and please follow Ella’s House at @ellashouseorg across all social media platforms! We love having new followers.
Thank you so much for the time you spent on this interview. We wish you only continued success and good health.
Elise Jenkins of Ella’s House: They Told Me It Was Impossible And I Did It Anyway was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.