Talking on the phone with Bria Hash is easy. She’s upbeat and ready to dive in. She asks if I mind that she takes a walk and eat yogurt while we have our interview. This is a woman that is always on the go.
The 23 year old creator of From Go Getter to Graduate: A Smarter Grad’s Guide is a native of Roanoke, Virginia. Bria attended William Fleming High School, one of two high schools in the city. As a senior, ready to leave her childhood bearings behind, her method for choosing which school she’d go to didn’t have much rhyme or reason. She just wanted to get out. A desire for many young people at an age where they’re at the cusp of freedom.
“My decision was random. I just wanted to get away,” she says lightheartedly. Bria grew up with a big family, one that supports each other in most of their life choices. However, going to college, and where, was a choice that was ultimately hers.
It’s one of the motivating factors behind her successful ebook, From Go Getter to Graduate. Published in 2016, the book serves as a resource for inner city youth in their transition period from high school to college. It goes beyond financial aid and which dorm to choose, but explores how to make the adjustment less daunting. As someone who believes in reaching your potential through setting achievable goals, Bria wanted to build a guide for young people to see their academic dreams come to fruition. So how did Bria, Psychology Major from Old Dominion University, who works in insurance by day, become a self published author?
“I’d describe myself as a grab bag kid,” she reminisces of her childhood. Her mother, who she refers to as “Bossy Joyce” in her book, gave her one wall in her bedroom to draw all over. In her playroom, she didn’t have many toys, but notebooks and journals that she would write and draw in daily. Her creativity, she says, comes from being raised by a single mother who didn’t have a laid out blueprint for motherhood. Bria and her mother are one unit of a larger family. “I had one mom, but so many influences,” she tells me. One of her only role models for entrepreneurship is her grandmother, who had a hat shop and would sell snow cones from her house to people in the neighborhood.
Bria’s family is a close one. So it’s no surprise that another family member, a younger cousin, influenced her decision to start writing From Go Getter to Graduate. With her cousin Cailyn in her final year of high school, she noticed the younger girl struggling with some tough decisions to make. She was in a transition period with not many resources to guide her along the way. “I wondered how many others there were out there like her, and that maybe I could help them,” Bria says.
And thus, the process began. She’s quick to tell me that the road was a bumpy one. Bria laughs, telling me, “I had about one paragraph written from my graduation until Thanksgiving.”
She was facing some new obstacles herself. During the spring of her graduation from Old Dominion University, Bria was faced with a choice. “I’d been accepted to a Doctoral Psychology Program,” she reveals to me. But something didn’t feel right. Despite being on the waitlist, and eventually being offered something so prestigious, she went with her intuition.
“I told them no.”
Bria was receiving her undergraduate degree, and within the next couple of days, starting a full-time job. Between starting a new job and a Bachelors Degree under her belt, Bria also added businesswoman to her growing list of titles. After Thanksgiving, she kicked herself into high gear. She had one goal for the book, and that was just get it published. No excuses. She built a small team which included an editor, an illustrator, and web developer to get the project off the ground. There were challenges, however, as she explained. There were three specifically we discussed that resonated with me.
First, Bria had to get over her own voice. She says to me, “presenting your work to others makes you feel so naked. I had to address my own voice and the imaginary voices of others.” She also endured the challenge of her ambition becoming bigger than her paychecks. Her non-profit services are for high school students that wouldn’t be able to pay otherwise. Sometimes, she would have to scale back in order to stay within a budget. Lastly, just when Bria’s launch day arrived, she ended up having to pull down the website due to a glitch. Having being so close only for that to happen, she says she felt sick. Once she was able to launch on her own, with everything running smoothly, Bria could finally breathe a sigh of relief.
The face of From Go Getter to Graduate is Bria herself. Bonnie, originally sketched by Bria, is the book’s mascot. When I asked her how important that her mascot was black, she said that it was inevitable. “The market is saturated [with the faces] of others. Black people have not always had that opportunity,” Bria says. While it may seem monumental to see faces of color in the educational resource industry, Bria didn’t think twice of what she wanted to represent. “This project is for black girls and guys. It’s for them,” she emphasizes.
As you can see, she has her cap and gown in one hand, and the world in the other. A visual representation of the goal.
Inside the book, Bria is transparent with her advice. Her voice is relatable and she offers real life examples for face-to-face value. Rising college students will be able to explore self-assessment, time management, finances, and more. It’s a guide you can read and revisit at any point in your collegiate journey to get back on track.
Beyond the ebook, Bria connects with her audience in a variety of ways. On social media, Bria motivates her followers through self-made videos.
Her newsletter is another avenue to keep up with the students that are on this journey with her. “I want to be there with them from start to finish,” she says. Bria is also speaking with students, specifically giving back to her alma mater, William Fleming. In March, she spoke with a group of students from William Fleming’s Class of 2020. “It’s that look in their eyes,” that reminds her of her mission. Bria has a purpose and she doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
What’s next? I asked her. It’s the moment she’s been waiting for. Throughout the interview, Bria is genuine and has a life lesson every time she opens her mouth to talk. She’s transparent with herself, which is why her audience continues to grow. Her next targeted group are those applying for Graduate School. “From Graduate to Graduate School,” she reveals her next plans to me. She will remain on brand with a new group of students as she helps them with their step into higher education. “I’m not in Graduate School, but I have applied to programs and gotten in. That’s what I want to help students do.”
Bria, just like so many twenty-somethings struggled with finding their path in life. As someone who enjoys helping others, she took her insecurities and transformed them into a way to serve. Her motto in life is that, “if you’re doing it for the right reason, you’ll never have to worry if you’re good enough.”
Her energy permeates through anyone she speaks to. Bria is meant to share her wisdom with others to help elevate their success, all the while opening doors for herself. “There’s room for everybody,” she says as a reminder to work hard and chase your dreams like a wild person.