Local woman becomes the second black female to win the World Championship for Public Speakers

Speaking her truth is what won a local woman a special championship.

“Life will sometimes feel like a fight,” were Ramona Smith’s first words during her speech at the Toastmasters World Championship for Public Speaking. Smith knows of what she speaks too. She’s come face-to-face with life’s challenges - her education is just one example.

“I knew I was supposed to go to college, but I didn’t have a plan, so I ended up dropping out of college four times,” said Smith.

Growing up in the Collinwood neighborhood in Cleveland, for her, every road pointed to failure.

“Just the challenges of overcoming growing up in poverty, single mother household, father wasn’t really in the picture,” she said.

But she didn’t let that stop her.

“Coming from that tough background, you’re kind of used to just taking those blows, so when things don’t go right you just keep living,” she said.

She kept living, even when her son was diagnosed with brain cancer as a toddler.

“I was, it was just a blow,” she recalled.

She stayed determined. After her son got better, she went back to school and finished. That all led her to the stage, at a competition she once lost. Now she’s the second black female to win in the last 80 years and able to share her story with the world, including girls who look like her.

“For young girls, who, especially young girls who look like me, you have something special, you need to hone in on that excellence,” she said.

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