Grit, Grace, Resilience: The American Dream Story of Kenya Mobley
By Greater Arlington Chamber of Commerce
Posted on April 20, 2022, April 20, 2022

Kenya Mobley is living her American Dream in The American Dream City with her business, On Track Truck Driving School, LLC. 

Mobley was taught from a very young age that the values she should hold close were grit, grace and resilience.

  • Grit – Life is going to do what life does. It is your responsibility to make the right response and follow through.
  • Grace – Show yourself some compassion by forgiving yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know.  (A lesson she learned from her grandmother.)
  • Resilience – Let go and realize that you are not what happened to you.

Through these three values, Mobley told her story, starting at the age of six and ending with her standing among us, showing us what strength looked like.

“Imagine, a six-year-old little girl asleep in her bed when suddenly she is jarred awake by loud bangs," Mobley said. "She first believed she may be dreaming but as fear begins to rise in her little body she closes her eyes tightly clinging to her teddy bear hoping that it will all go away. As she opens her eyes, she sees her big brother standing there, he leans down and whispers ‘Hey Buffy, help me, something has happened.”

Mobley discovered her parents shot in their bedroom at the age of six. She did not receive any counseling and had to learn to deal with that trauma all on her own. This led her to go down a path of rebellion, which left her pregnant at 13. Her aunt requested that they move to Virginia and send Kenya to an alternative school for pregnant teens. The active role that Mobley's aunt had during this time changed the trajectory of her life.

As she looked around in a classroom filled with pregnant black teens, Mobley said she was taught about the statistics of her pregnancy and future:

  1. A teen mom has the highest infant mortality rate.
  2. African American teen moms are more likely to rely on government assistance.
  3. First born males to teen moms are more likely to be incarcerated or killed at a young age.

That third statistic stood out to Mobley.

“That dug deep," said Mobley. "I was carrying a little boy. It was that day that I vowed that this would not be my story. I was determined to outrun those numbers.”

At the age of 14, she proved one of those statistics wrong by delivering an almost ten pound baby boy.

Eventually, she would have to fall back into survival mode when a circumstance out of her control made her go back to Mississippi. A place with very little opportunities for her and her child. Mobley described the feeling of returning to a place that had so many bad memories as, “I felt like I was in quicksand and I was slowly sinking and before you knew it I was forced back into survival mode. Sometimes no matter how much grit I had, it felt like the walls were caving in on me.”

During this time, she looked towards her grandmother who always told her, “God’s grace and your faith will see you through. You just have to keep going.” Mobley believes that her grandmother is the one who taught her the true value of grit and grace.

At 18, Mobley graduated high school and walked across the stage pregnant for the second time. This time with a baby girl. With two children, Mobley had to learn how she would be able to take care of them. She wanted to be the best role model for her babies, she worked low paying jobs and was still in need of government assistance. As she stood in lines for government help, those statistics she was taught in school came flooding back to her. She needed to make a better life for her and her children.

In 2002, Mobley decided to do something completely crazy. She put her kids in the car with $2,000 to her name and the repo man looking for her and traveled 417 miles to Arlington, Texas.

“I could smell the opportunities brewing in Arlington," she said.

With the help of Miss Tillie and Mission Arlington, Mobley was able to survive the times in which there was more month than money. Mission Arlington provided resources to her and her family. They also prayed over her, which reminded Mobley of her grandmother’s whispers to have the faith to keep going.

After the help of Mission Arlington, Mobley became self-sufficient, but she wanted more for her family. She wanted the American Dream and so began her passion to own her own business. Her first business endeavor was to open a childcare center. She wanted to give kids the love and support that she needed at that age.

Mobley began the process of opening her own childcare center, but soon realized that it would take a lot more permits than expected. When she arrived at the permit office, Pam Smith, was there to greet her with the tough reality of all the permits necessary to open up a childcare facility. Mobley explained to Pam that she wanted to open this center to give back to the community.

“I wanted to love and nurture kids as Arlington had nurtured me,” Mobley said.

Her passion behind this endeavor allowed her to open her own childcare center, A Time to Love. This facility was made up of 90% CPS kids and became nationally accredited. A Time to Love ministry opened soon after and was a nonprofit created to empower teen moms to reach for the stars.

After 10 years, Mobley decided to move onto bigger things and became the first African American in Arlington to open a commercial driving school, On-Track Truck Driving School. This is a 100% woman owned business. Around 30% of On-Track’s clients have been incarcerated and Kenya proudly announced that none of her clients have returned to prison.

After sharing about her success with the driving school, “And let me tell y'all, I never drove a truck before,” she said.

She had the incredible opportunity to co-author a book with her daughter. “I was able to give her something more than trauma," Mobley said. "I was breaking curses.”

Mobley not only broke curses but she triumphed from her past. She triumphed to become one of the best people you will ever meet. She is powerful and she is the definition of grit & grace. Thank you, Kenya for sharing your story and inspiring every single person in the room.

“I am Kenya Mobley. Yes, I experienced trauma at the age of six. Pregnant at 13, Single mother of 2 at the age of 18, but it is through grit, grace and resilience that I am not what happened to me, I am what I chose to become.”

Kenya Mobley

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