Sound of the Genuine

Theresa S. Thames: Exercising Skills and Gifts

June 17, 2021 Season 1 Episode 5
Sound of the Genuine
Theresa S. Thames: Exercising Skills and Gifts
Show Notes Transcript

Theresa S. Thames is the Associate Dean of Religious Life and the Chapel at Princeton University. As an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church, she served as a pastor in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area for nine years. Theresa is a graduate of Howard University, received her Master of Divinity from Duke University Divinity School, and a Doctorate of Ministry from Wesley Theological Seminary in Leadership Excellence exploring how best to equip young clergywomen of color to thrive in ministry. Theresa is also the founder of Soul Joy Yoga LLC, an in-person and online gathering that inspires womxn and folx of color to discover their deepest truths and cultivate joy. Theresa is a wife, transformation coach, challenging preacher, certified yoga teacher, dog mama, and devoted friend. She is a lover of life who prioritizes self-care and believes that radical joy is resistance.

Instagram: @theresa_s_thames

Twitter: TSThames

Music by: @siryalibeats

Vector Portrait by: Rafli

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Patrick: Welcome to the Sound of the Genuine. The Forum for Theological Exploration’s limited audio series on vocation, meaning and purpose. I am Dr. Patrick Reyes, the Forum for Theological Exploration’s senior director of learning design.  And this is a space where we hear the stories of inspiring religious leaders who are living into their call and purpose. And today I'm especially excited because we have Reverend Dr. Teresa Thames. The associate dean of religious life and of the chapel at Princeton University. 

All right. Reverend Dr. Dean Thames, it's so good to spend some time with you. It's good to see you. 

Theresa: Good to see you too. Patrick, it's been so long! 

Patrick: It has been. And last time I think I saw you in person was either on the farm or at Princeton chapel. And these are my two favorite places to see you. I know that we meet there. I don't know how you got there so if you can tell me a little bit about yourself, where'd you grow up? 

Theresa: I am from the place of Magnolia trees and seafood and crawfish and Mardi Gras. Where people sit on the porch and wave at each other. I'm from Biloxi, Mississippi on the Mississippi Gulf coast. And I grew up, I don't remember ever not going to church.

I grew up in church. My church back at home, I would say is Bapticostal that it's Baptist and a little bit of Pentecost. And I loved being in the church. I was seen there, I was in the choir and in the, all the choirs and I love Sunday school. My grandmother was a Sunday school teacher. And it was a place where they doted on little black girls. And I did public speaking in church and learning the Easter plays and the Christmas plays. And it's the place where I really formed my voice as a speaker, as a public speaker. And so that's where I'm from. My grandmother was a powerhouse of a woman. She had two children and went back to college.

She graduated from Tougaloo College in Mississippi. Her husband kept the kids and she went to school. My mother was also a huge personality and I grew up in a family that wanted me to know the power of being a woman and the power of being a black woman. So I learned about black history. Very young had to learn all the verses of Lift Every Voice and Sing.

And so this is the community where you knew everyone in your street, everyone knew you in your neighborhood. And it was the place that I didn't know how bad Mississippi was until I left Mississippi. And I was like this wasn't so bad, but being born and raised in the place and the time really formed my identity in ways that I appreciate so much more now than I could have been able to understand then.

Patrick: Take me a little bit to that experience, paint a picture for me. What's the drive to church? Like I'm seeing this multi-generational church. Is grandma in the car with you or you just see her when you're there? Tell me about after church. 

Theresa:  Um Patrick, it's way smaller than that. The church was down the street from our house so we walked the church. And it was an inter-generational church where I learned the hymns of the black Baptist church. There were deacons and ushers and the women who wore white and the white gloves. And we did communion once a month.

And I remember the Sunday that I decided that I wanted to be baptized in the Baptist church.  And I remember walking to the altar and being baptized the Sunday that Reverend Robert Earl Coker baptized me. It was just a community where you dressed up for church. 

My grandmother, when she died, the funny part was her friends were all like Ruby told me that I could have this hat when she died. So black women in their hats! And my mother was a singer, Patrick. She could sang! And my mother had struggles with drug addiction so I was raised by my grandmother. And my mother didn't come to church every Sunday, but when she came, you could just hear her voice, her voice was anointed and powerful. My church was a place of community and bake sales and youth groups and vacation Bible schools, and all of the culture of the black church was in that church. And so being in the South, being in that type of environment formed me and it also formed me in ways that really made me question God and community and what that would look like for me in the future.

 Patrick: And what were the dreams of the community of this small church or grandma, maybe you as a young person, what did you want to do? 

Theresa: I wanted to be a doctor, a lawyer, a beautician, a florist, an opera singer. And what happened was growing up, I used to stutter.  And so I had to go to speech therapy and I really took speaking seriously and my family wanted me to do something talking. They wanted me to be a news anchor. Never in all of the years of my life, did they ever think that I would go into being a pastor or preacher. But I wanted to be an opera singer. So I sing, I have a background in singing. I sang for the miss teen USA pageant with Dick Clark, had a contract with CBS singing. I'm older than the American Idol days, but I did a lot of talent shows. I was actually kicked out of talent shows. They told me I couldn't compete anymore cause I would win every year. [laughter]

And yeah, I went to Howard university on a biochemistry scholarship because I was going to be a doctor. I was really gifted in math and science and English and all those types of things. And then while at Howard university, 9-11 happened and it completely changed the trajectory of what I wanted to do and be in the world.

Patrick:  And in what ways? And where were you? Take me to that moment. What do you remember when that happened and watching it and yeah, walk me through that. 

Theresa: Well Howard University sits in the heart of Washington DC. It's actually on a hill. And the morning of 9-11, I am an early riser, I had an 8:00 AM class and on my way to the 8:00 AM class, I stopped to get breakfast. And the screens in the student center showed that something was happening in New York. And it's early, didn't really make sense. I go to class and I'm in class and you could hear a commotion in the hallway.

People are crying in the hallway. We all go outside and everyone's on campus now. But then because we were in Washington, DC, you can see black smoke billowing from the Pentagon. Back then, no one really had cell phones, only the cool kids. But phone lines were down and I had a lot of friends who were from New York.

And Howard University is in DC and New York's not far away. And being in that moment of understanding of such a tragedy and such a loss. And I was the kid in college that partied a lot. And I also never missed church on Sunday because that's what we did. Like I went to church and I also, my friends knew me for telling Bible stories, like in the middle of the night we'd all be in the dorm room.

I would tell these fireplace Bible stories. And so when this day happened, my friends were looking for me because I was, now looking back, I was like their chaplain in this way. And I led all my friends do the university chapel. And there was this, this gathering there, but I spent weeks after 9-11 gathering my friends and holding this space for them.

And an incident happened where when we were going into the chapel that day on 9-11 my very best friend is Sunni Muslim. And there was some back and forth about her being able to come into the chapel with us. And I was just like, oh no, not my Jesus. It just really made me think about Christian faith and identity and community and other faith communities.

And it made me curious about her Muslim identity and being black. And so I started going to Jum'ah prayer services on Fridays with her. I really started to expand and think about like Jesus, can't be the only way. And what does this look like? And I'm so thankful that moment opened my world up to different possibilities around faith and community.

Patrick: Wow. It sounds like you were already doing peer ministry in college. When does that moment where if you're doing the work, where you go okay, this is what I want to do. Did you go right into campus ministry right after like, I have a gift here? I'm assuming not. 

Theresa: Not at all because I want to back up to that new Bethel Baptist church in Mississippi. Women were not pastors.  There was only one woman who was a minister quote unquote at my church, but women weren't allowed in the pulpit. There was a lot of controversy about what that looked like. I had no real examples of a woman doing this.  No, that was not anything that I had in my purview. But that spring after 9-11, the next semester there was a jobs fair, a grad school fair and Duke divinity school was there and Harvard divinity school was there and it was like, this is an option.

This is something that's on the menu that I can actually think about. And so I was accepted to Duke University Divinity School. And when I went, I was like what in the world am I doing here? That I didn't have this undergraduate education in Christianity or religion. I didn't speak any of the fancy language of any of my friends.

I knew nothing about the church fathers or…they were like the Eucharist. I was like we say the Lord's supper. I don't know what this Eucharist stuff is. I remember losing it in the hallways of Duke Divinity about being chosen or not chosen. And I was like, how do I know if I'm chosen? What does this mean? No, none of that background, I just love Jesus. And I went to seminary, not because I ever thought that I'd be a pastor. I actually thought I'd just study and go work at a nonprofit or something. I didn't have it in my purview of what being a pastor could look like. And so I came up with a plan in seminary that I'll do a field ed and doing a field education where you're placed in the church allowed me to exercise these gifts that I loved.

I love the Bible. And Patrick, the one thing about growing up poor in Mississippi and being black is that the Bible, especially old Testament, means something so different to you. That I know what it's like to the widow who has no food and just a little bit of flour, a little bit of oil. Like I know what it's like to be at the end of the month and like when your lights are out.

So this miraculous Jesus, this God, that makes a way out of no way.  That type of Pentecostal Baptist understanding of God and Jesus was not just theory for me, like this was real life.  And I knew the Bible because being Baptist. So going to seminary was like the lights were turned on a stage that I learned about the real academic background of all of this.

And I wanted to give people the Jesus that I had without all of the dogma and politics of the church that I had. I wanted to give people this Jesus that I really truly believed in. That I believe in speaking in tongues and casting out demons and miracles, but I didn't want this nasty, dirty water of the politics of the church, the ways that the black church sometimes misuse their power.

And I realized that I could do that during field ed and during the old Testament class with Ellen Davis, during taking Hebrew with Dr. Davis, just all the ways of expanding this thing that was so natural to me, which was my understanding of God in the Bible.  Field education allowed me to try it on and having internships in churches allowed me to say, oh this is what this looks like on me and lean into it in a way that I never imagined I would.

Patrick: What pieces of those field ed sites? Like what pieces of the ministry  fueled you? Was it the preaching. Was it the people? What was it that made you come alive doing that work? 

Theresa: It was two things. One my first field ed was at a black Baptist church in Durham, First Calvary Baptist Church with pastor Davis and the power of the black church just, on every issue from the school board to the environment, to drug dealing, to the police. Like the way that pastor Davis was so engaged in the wellbeing of the city and the wellbeing of the church and his leadership was so important to me. Another thing that he said to me was as I said, I was a singer and I was like, I'm going to come and I'm going to join the choir. I'm going to do this. And he was like, oh you can't join the choir. But I was like, I can sing pastor Davis I'm a singer! And he was like, you can't join the choir because if you come in here singing, they will only see you as a singer. I need you to come in and I need them to see you as a minister.

And that was so important because it did. It positioned me in a different way of being the young girl from seminary that sings to, oh this is a minister who I need to listen to and take seriously. So one was the power of the church to really make moves in the community. And my second field ed was the exact opposite.

It was an all white United Methodist church on the outer banks of North Carolina. They never had a black intern before, they asked for a cross-racial appointment and I'm all for trying new things. And I went to this church and I'll never forget my first Sunday. I do the prayers or whatever and at the door they're like you speak and read so well! And I was like, yeah I'm college-educated I should. But the power of that congregation was the importance of relationships. That being in the South, we talk to everybody, building relationships and talking to people. And so my entire summer on the outer banks, all I did was build relationships.

I had long dreadlocks that were gorgeous at the time, and I used to wear them curly. And this older white woman, she was probably 80 something years old, she owned a beauty salon in her garage. And this story is important because she was like, you should come to my salon. And I was like, this woman can't do my hair. But I would show up at her salon in my rollers and sit under the hairdryer just to be in relationship with the different people there.

And these people like loved me. Like it was such a powerful summer of relationship building. And when people would die from that congregation over the years, they would call me and let me know. And last week I was just texting and having a conversation with one of the trustees of that congregation that all these years later, I'm still in relationship with that congregation.

Patrick: Wow. That is incredible. And I'm having a hard time imagining you in the rollers in the, the womans garage, just sitting building relationships, but it sounds blessed. Like seminary did it activated both the best of you and your gifts and gave you an opportunity to try on some ministry. What you do next after you're done with your MDiv? 

Theresa: So in seminary, I was aware of a few things; that I was a black Baptist woman and that I really could do this ministry thing. However, the likelihood of me getting a church as a black Baptist woman wasn't going to happen. Because I knew the politics of the black Baptist church. And so I decided to diversify my courses. So I took worship. I took Hebrew. I did Episcopal morning prayer. I did all the things because I wanted that whatever church door opened, that I had the tools and I was able to step into it.

I applied to 14 Baptist churches, literally 14. Got not a single response. And I needed to buy myself some time. And so what I thought was just buying some time was doing field ed. To do chaplain internship at the hospital to do CPE. And I thought CPE was just buying me some time.

I did a residency. I did six months, my last six months of seminary, CPE internship. And then, because I never got a job, I stayed on to do the year long residency. And what I thought was buying time was actually another layer of formation. Of doing CPE, learning about hospital systems, being a chaplain, being with people in life and death, being on call, sleeping in the hospital, taking care of doctors. And the doctors are so young. I was in the heart wing of Duke hospital. Duke is a research hospital where you're really bad if they fly you into Duke. And so being in there,16 months in that space, just equipped me with skills and gifts that I didn't know that I needed and that if I hadn't done that, it would have been difficult for me to do the job that I'm doing today.

And so after graduating, I didn't have a job, did CPE. And what I did know is that I didn't want to go into hospital chaplaincy. But what I did know was that I had this expansive knowledge of how systems work and where ethics fell in a system and how to go into rooms and talk to people and how the patients rotated because it's a hospital. But the people that people don't think about when they think about CPE are the doctors and the nurses and the social workers. And those people became my number one congregation, those became my people of care. 

Patrick: Wow. Wow CPE. I mean, I know the expanding those skills and gifts. I'm imagining patients, listening, having tough conversations, those whenever tough conversations, you mentioned ethics. I can't imagine being in the heart wing where folks were in real dire situations. I imagine it prepared you for whatever was next. What do you do?  I mean it sounds like you've gotten a nice sampling of ministry. Like your leadership skills have been rounded out much earlier than most folks have that happen. What do you do next with all these skills and new experiences? 

Theresa: I take a job, any job because I'm desperate. And I went on idealistindeed like this website indeed. And there was a job posting for a children's minister at a church in Washington, DC. And I was like, my grandmother was a head start teacher for 25 years. I don't like children, but I can do this job.  I'm not Methodist, but I took Methodism in seminary. Like I diversified my academic background. And so I showed up, they hired me for this job and it's Foundry United Methodist church. I knew nothing about how historical it was, what a powerhouse, I knew nothing. I just showed up to take this job. And I started out at Foundry as their children's pastor. Foundry was also, it was an all white Methodist church in Washington, DC. I knew DC because I'd been there for undergrad. It was like going back home in a way.

And I'm so thankful that the senior pastor was Reverend Dean Snyder. And the one thing that Dean Snyder did for me then was he saw my gifts as a leader. And I was doing children's ministry, but also was doing leadership development.  And my job began to change. So I went from being the children's minister to the Christian education person. And then it was like, strategically, I should probably just join the United Methodist church.

And so I'd been ordained in the Baptist church and I started the process of being ordained in the Methodist church. And nine years later, when I left Foundry, I was the associate minister. I'd been there for nine years. One of the longest staff members by that time.  They had to hire two full-time people to replace me because of how broad my portfolio had grown during that time.  Like I said, I went in just taking the job because I needed a job, but I didn't realize what a pivotal tipping point it would be in the trajectory of my career. 

 Patrick: I have to ask the question that's like bubbling in my brain. Which is, I'm trying to track here. You've done it beautifully in the narrative sense that from the Bapticostal Mississippi roots through like, two Methodist institutions in Duke and Foundry. Just for someone else who's thinking about that because that's not…I can imagine a cradle United Methodists PK say that's going to be my trajectory. I want to go to Duke and then I want to serve at Foundry. What's that like ending up in two places where I imagine you had classmates, or there were congregation members of Foundry, the pastors, this is what they had signed up to do, to be in the United Methodist church, to be in these types of institutions. What was that like navigating these systems?

Theresa: I think my naivete really helped me because I just went in being myself. And if I could tell anyone anything, it's stay curious and be yourself. I showed up in both of those places being unapologetically black, asking questions, making room, and I always had this hunger to grow. And I knew that I could be a children's pastor, even though I said I didn't like children and I also knew that, okay. I've been in the church before. But what I didn't know that, I say that life is a mosaic when you're in it, you don't see the picture that you're painting until you step out, was that I was building these skills of how to be in different places. Being at the hospital taught me about systems.

And so then I get to a place like Foundry, which is a large church and large churches run like systems. I knew how to put systems together. I learned about fundraising.  When I was in college before 9-11, I interned with Edward Jones investment. So I knew all this stuff about money and investments. So then when I get to a church with a large, a million dollar budget, those numbers don't even phase me even though I grew up poor in the projects with no money. I had these skills in my head around investments and money.  But it served me in being at this church.

So knowing how to do budgets, knowing how to fundraise, knowing how to do development, knowing how to talk, to pitch, to organize Sunday school teachers know how to organize trustee. That is what I did behind the scenes. And those were all things that slowly just added. And so being curious, staying open and stepping into the opportunity when the opportunity presented itself to me. It was like, we'll learn today. I may not know, but we'll learn today. 

 Patrick: And as I think about Foundry, you're there for nine years. That's a solid tenure.  A lot of folks could be at a church like that for their entire career. When did the discernment to make a shift?  How did that happen?

Theresa: It was nothing that I was thinking. I just got a call from the Bishop that said, hey there is a church where I need you to go to be the only pastor to be the senior pastor of this congregation in suburban, Maryland. And Patrick, my ego, it felt like a demotion. It just felt like I'm leaving big grand Foundry with all of its bells and whistles and celebrities and politics and money and budgets to go to Cheverly United Methodist church in the suburbs of Maryland. And again, they never had a young black pastor before. And it was just like, what is this?

And I'll never forget Dean Snyder the then pastor of Foundry saying to me, you can do this. You can tell the Bishop no I wanna stay here, but also you can go and step into this thing and lead this on your own. And I'm so glad that I did Patrick, because it's one thing to be in the passenger seat when someone else's driving. It's a whole nother ball game for you to be in the driver's seat. And the time that I went to Cheverly was the time when, when you're the pastor, you're the person. And all the leadership skills, all of the budgeting stuff, all of these skills came into play at that place.

And I love those people. I was thankful for those people and I was only there for nine months before I left and went to Princeton. I had the long-term vision of being at Cheverly of really doing all these things at this church.

But when the opportunity at Princeton presented itself to me, it was the marriage of my passions. And I also knew the Holy Spirit had really made it really clear to me, I believe in the Holy Spirit, had made it really clear to me that the only thing that Cheverly needed for me was to get their ball rolling. Newton's law of motion, just get it in some motion and to show them what kind of congregation that they could be. But that I really needed to step out of that and to take this role at Princeton. And that's how I made the shift to Princeton is that someone literally called me and said, hey there's a position at Princeton I think you'd be great for. What do you think about it? 

Patrick: Let me just tell you that personally, the personal anecdote here is, I was out at Princeton. This would have been two years ago and my father was able to join me. We were actually wandering around the seminary’s campus, not the university's campus and I've never had such an out of body experience, both with, for myself and for my dad. It's carved out in what feels like the middle of nowhere. Like a little castle. It's its own unique community. What was it like going from the burbs after leaving DuPont circle in DC and the busy-ness of political celebrity life out to this Ivy league university that has so much history.

Theresa: I felt like I absolutely belonged here. And I say that with clarity because it's not like the road had been paved for me. I'd done the work.  I was certain of my gifts and skills. It was a different institution. It was a university, but it was exactly like the church. Politics and bureaucracy being at a place like Foundry also prepared me for celebrity.

I'd been around celebrity. I'd been around spaces. So none of this was, again, this was nothing new for me. Also all of these dots connect. When I was in seminary, I lived on campus in the freshmen dorm. I was a graduate assistant. And so I knew what it was like to work with college students. I had to bust up their drinking parties. When the Duke lacrosse scandal happened, those lacrosse students lived in my dorm. So I knew PR relations. I knew how to minister to people.  I knew what it was like to be a college chaplain unofficially because I'd lived in the dorm at Duke for three years.

The skills that I brought to Princeton was that I'd been a pastor. Foundry is a pretty big pulpit as far as the people and voices that come. And so even though the space isn't as grand as the chapel, I knew what it's like. Also I did TV.

I sang on the miss teen USA pageant. So I did public speaking ever since I was a little girl. So I knew how to do that. And then I knew politics and bureaucracy. I knew money. So coming here, none of that was new for me, but it was like, it's time for you to step into it. Step into it. I also knew what this position really needed was someone who could run a staff team.

And so after being at Foundry for all of those years, I knew what it was like to cultivate and build a staff, to encourage a staff. And because I had been a hospital chaplain, I understood the different religious identities and the needs of the different religious community. And so when I came here, the first thing that I did was spend my first three or four months building relationships.

I had a long list of people that I wanted to meet. And I learned that from my internship on the outer banks that summer. I just went out to lunch. Did walks, met people and build relationships.  

Patrick: I'm just wondering if you could walk me through what your role is.  What is being associate Dean of the Chapel mean on a campus that's at an R1 research intensive, my guess is a lot of very pre-professional, highly intelligent students who are motivated to do the next thing? What does campus ministry look like in a context like that? 

Theresa:  This is not your normal campus environment. These are the children of the 1%, a lot of them. And I don't say that as a negative. These are brilliant students. These are students from every walk of life from around the world. Faith and religion looks very different here. What it means to be of a certain religious identity and how that impacts socioeconomics, how that impacts science. The largest student population is the undergraduate student population. And so my role as the associate Dean of the chapel is that I help to do the work of the chapel on Sunday morning.

So preaching and scheduling preachers and things like that. But I'm one of the pastors for the campus in this way that I intersect with every single layer of this university. From students, faculty, staff, administrators, the building services team, facilities, every single layer. In one day, I can interact with everyone on the organizational chart of this university.

I also gather the Princeton affiliate chaplains, which are all of the denominational and religious chaplains under this umbrella that I hold. So that's the rabbis and the Imam and the Hindu chaplain, the Methodist and the Baptist. And all of those chaplains I bring them together once a month. I say I invite them to a dance. We may not all like the music, some of us dance better than others, we may step on each other's toes, but it allows me to take the religious pulse of campus to see what's going on in different communities. And then in our office people don't think about when they think about diversity and inclusion work or diversity equity, inclusion work, they don't think about how religious identity falls into that. And so there's a lot of conversations around housing and food and having kosher food and having halal food and foot washing stations.  The depth and breadth of my role is pretty expansive and it's expansive not because it's written that way, but because I come with so many skills that I've been able to accentuate it to be that way to fit me. 

Patrick: [00:28:41] It sounds like you're really living into  a culmination of many calls. So I, have one last question for you.  How much of this call this vocation that you're living into now is a result of the community that helped form you going back to your Bapticostal roots, your grandmother these communities, Foundry sitting out in the burbs, the outer banks and Maryland. How much is it the community that called you and how much is it your own sort of sense of meaning and purpose and what you've discerned maybe with God or within yourself. 

Theresa: It's all of the above. It is the marriage of all of those things that piece by piece individually, it doesn't make sense. I was just taking the next faithful step. Every way along the way, I was just taking what felt like the next faithful step.  There wasn't a straight trajectory of getting here. It was what was faithful. And so when I'm here, I'm able to exhale and really be in this position because it is the culmination of all of the things. That I can be pastor here. I can sit with people.  Even here in this job, I sit with people during the lows of their lives and the highs of their lives. I get to bless incoming classes of students and I get to bless students who are graduating from this place. I get to lecture, I get to walk with…people trust me with their stuff. Also teaching a course on public speaking and I'm doing yoga. I'm now a certified yoga teacher. And so I'm doing yoga on campus with students and faculty and staff. And so all of the ways that I've chosen to show up. And if there's anything I would want to leave, Patrick, is that there is a road that's mapped out for us and people have a paradigm to put us in, but how can you stretch beyond that to be bigger than that, to really allow yourself to sink into your truth and how your truth can also enlinven any space that you enter into.

Patrick: That's amazing. I just want to say thank you so much for the stories and for sharing your life. I feel like this is both true of this conversation, but just knowing you as a human too, that I feel blessed to be a witness to a master artists, and to use your words, as they're painting their beautiful mosaic. Like I am watching those pieces come together and it is inspiring and amazing. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

Theresa: Thank you, Patrick.  The one thing, when I think about you and myself, that makes me cry is that our grandparents and our parents couldn't even pray prayers to get us into the doors that we've been in. Like I'm living a life beyond what people could have even hoped for me. And so, I bring them into the room everywhere I go. I'm humbled by what God has allowed me to see and do in this world. 

Patrick: Hopefully, you know our grandma's right now are sharing tea or coffee, watching us have this conversation. Hopefully smiling. My grandma's probably laughing at me. 

Theresa: Absolutely. My grandma's saying Girl, what happened to your hair? [laughter] Thank you so much Patrick. 

Patrick: Thank you. I just wanna express my deep appreciation for listening to Dr. Thames' story. Now we know you can find inspiration a lot of places in your life, and we're glad you spent a little time with FTE. A special thank you to Heather Wallace and Elsie Barnhart, FTE’s design managers. And as always @YaliBeats for his music. 

Don't forget to subscribe and share our audio series with a friend. Thank you for listening and see you next time on the Sound of the Genuine.