Meet Lola Tomorrow, a former White House official who worked with Michelle Obama, a lawyer, author, and the 44th President Barack Obama’s wife.
According to Forbes, Tomorrow, who was born and reared in Chicago, Illinois, to a Nigerian father and an African-American mother, was expected to pursue a profession in law, engineering, or medicine when she enrolled at Illinois State University.
Instead, she organized activities for thousands of college students. Her organizational talents quickly drew the attention of the department chair, who encouraged her to pursue a major in event planning.
“I looked into the major, and I never looked back,” she recalled about her journey. “Once I declared [my] major, my mom [is] a scrapbooking queen. She reminded me that when I was in the third grade, I planned my first event: a surprise baby shower for my teacher. My mom has all the records of me writing down every student that gave $2.25. I made a budget and itinerary and [listed] all the details. We bought a cake [and] had the principal get the teacher.”
Tomorrow’s intention to work in events, however, was met with opposition from her father, who refused to entertain the thought of his daughter working in event planning and even compared events to organizing parties. Tomorrow was also suffering academically in college. In her first semester, she was placed on probation, and by the second semester, she had been dismissed.
“I sat down with my academic advisor, and I’m in tears because I’ve been an honor roll student my entire life, and here I am getting kicked out of college. She said, ‘Listen, young lady, 90% of African American students from the inner city of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools [are not] ready. Go to a two-year college, finish there, then come back,’ and I refuse,” she said.
She approached the university’s president and begged him to let her continue her education. According to Forbes, she was given an ultimatum that she would be granted another shot if she maintained a 3.0 GPA and graduated in four years.
Despite not having a GPA of 3.0, she graduated in four years and went on to work as an event planner for the National Parents Teachers Association (PTA), planning all of their national events for various groups of people.
Tomorrow’s breakthrough came in 2009, when she learned that Michelle Obama would be attending the organization’s annual legislative conference. She was invited to arrange the event, which she initially declined due to the magnitude of the task. Tomorrow crawled on stage before Michelle Obama was ready to speak and hurriedly applied steam to a wrinkled garment she discovered before the first lady’s speech.
Her efforts were finally acknowledged by Michelle Obama’s staff, who approached her with an offer to work with the former first lady. She was already traveling with the first lady as an aide in less than a month.
Others, such as the Grammy Awards organizers, hired her services as well. According to Forbes, this drove her to eventually start her own organization Faith Figures, which has guided hundreds of women to billionaire status.
According to the site, her company earned more than $10 million in income for businesses in a variety of industries. Beauty, coaching, healthcare staffing, transportation, marketing, child development, and education were among the industries represented.