Featured Story

Featured Story August 2019

Arletta Allen is an amazing example of resiliency and determination in spite of the odds stacked against her. Now 38 and the mother of five sons, she survived physical and mental abuse by her father as a young girl in Mississippi — as well as at the hands of former spouses later in life when the vicious cycle repeated itself.
At age 10, Arletta, her four siblings and their mother fled to Fond du Lac to escape the abuse.  They sought safety with relatives already living there. But, soon, circumstances led to housing in a homeless shelter. It was an experience that began to slowly change things for the better. She grew close to the people who volunteered there. Some would invite her family to their homes to play with their children.
Other kindnesses began to surface, leading to positive changes within Arletta. As a 13-year-old in Junior High School in Fond du Lac, her principal became her mentor – even throwing Arletta a 13th birthday party with the secretaries in the office and encouraging her to pursue cheerleading. Arletta recalls how he surprised her with the cheerleading shoes and outfit she needed, knowing she couldn’t afford it.
“Unforgettable moments of gratitude overwhelm me,” Arletta said, looking back. “These are the people who taught me that kindness existed in the world, and that we never arrive anywhere alone. God provides people on this earth who act as angels to help us along.”
Kind-hearted gestures like these caused Arletta to not just survive – but to thrive. Like a budding flower, she began the process of turning her life around, although the path to get there was not a smooth one. Wounds from years of abuse took their toll, and bad choices began to affect Arletta as she grew into adulthood. Pregnant at 16, she dropped out of high school. But she didn’t give up on education. The same year she would have graduated, she earned her GED (high school equivalency degree) through Moraine Park Technical College (MPTC).
Her GED was a seed planted – one that would later germinate into further education and lead to a better life for herself and her family.
This May, Arletta was a proud graduate of Marian University, earning the scholastic rank of Summa Cum Laude (highest honors with distinction). She received a bachelor’s degree in communication with a business minor and public speaking emphasis. Prior to enrolling at Marian University, she had received an associate’s degree in leadership development at MPTC. She also earned certificates at MPTC in healthcare leadership, principles of management, organizational management, and human resource management.
“I am the first in my family to graduate from college, and the first to own a home,” Arletta said, noting she had worked as a bank teller for 14 years before pursuing further education. Prior to her banking career, she had worked as a cashier at grocery stores and at various restaurants.
While at Marian University and MPTC, Arletta won several honors, got involved in student government and continued to immerse herself in leadership roles within her community – all while taking a full course load and working to support her family.
Arletta was named “Communications Student of the Year” and “The Face of Marian.” She was inducted into the Lambda Pi Eta National Communication Association’s High Honor Society.
At MPTC, Arletta was named “The Face of Moraine Park,” served as a member of Phi Beta Kappa High Honor Society, and received the Meritorious Award.
Her experience as a student speaker at MPTC’s annual foundation dinner was a turning point in her life. “It made me realize I was made for a stage,” Arletta said.
Arletta’s speaking skills and ability to express herself have served her well. She saw her calling as a motivational speaker – one who could change people’s lives for the better. One who could share her journey from abuse and despair to hope, positivity and success.
While a student, she began to put a business plan together for a motivational speaking business she named “Authentically Arletta.” Her business goals were to help others by sharing her story. Her plan was to encourage positive change through her gift of public speaking, video blogging (vlogging), and producing weekly podcasts. A self-designed website ties it all together. Her Facebook page is the site of her vlog videos and original, uplifting quotes. Photos scattered throughout her website and Facebook page were taken by her oldest son Devan, a professional photographer and videographer who owns Devanity Photography.
Arletta launched her business earlier this year and is off to a great start with motivational speaking engagements scheduled throughout Wisconsin and beyond.
Plans to grow her business include increasing her social media presence on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube. On August 17, she will be one of several speakers at the TED X Fond du Lac annual event in Fond du Lac. “Once I’ve given that presentation, I plan to register with the Professional Speaker’s Bureaus,” Arletta said, noting that doing so gets her name out there to a wider audience looking to hire motivational speakers. “My intention is to make a career of public speaking and be able to support my family doing it.”
“When I pick up a microphone and tell my story, it feels like I am standing right where I was born to be — in pure authenticity, being true to myself and acting accordingly,” Arletta said. “It is a gift to be authentic. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. My words are capable of changing lives for the better – especially the lives of women and girls. My story can and has moved the masses.”
Arletta is making a difference in her community in other ways as well. She developed a mentoring program for young girls of color called the Peculiar Princess Project. “It will be a pilot program at local schools until I have worked out all the different facets, but ultimately it’s designed for girls of color (Latina, Hmong, Black, etc.) ages 10-18.”
“The goal of the program is to instill confidence, character and charisma in the girls so they understand they have hope for their future — even if they aren’t receiving this foundation of values at home,” Arletta said. “My vision is to take the girls on a journey of self-discovery that will reveal their self-worth. I want to give them the gift that was never given to me. This is my passion because I was once just like them.”
Even in the midst of struggles and adversity, Arletta says she never gave up. “I always believed there was hope. I made a solid choice to want more and to go after it even when it hurts. While raising my children most of my life as a single mother, I taught myself to be strong for them. They are indeed why I do all that I do.”

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