Rayshawn Trapp always dreamed of becoming an author. Uncertain about what type of book she should write, Trapp prayed for guidance.
In the intervening years, Trapp honed her skills as an educator after earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Lander University in 2013. She taught for Greenwood School District 50 at Matthews and Woodfields elementary schools and pursued a master’s degree in counselor education at Clemson University.
In 2017, she began the next phase in her career as a school counselor at Robert E. Cashion Elementary School in Greenville.
First, as a teacher, and now as a counselor, Trapp became familiar with her students’ lives and the challenges they face at home and in their communities.
“Many of them struggle with problems, homelessness, food insecurity, abuse and neglect among them,” she said. “We cannot begin to imagine some of the problems they are dealing with. I had a student whose grandfather was the primary caregiver, and he died. It was devastating for the student and their siblings.”
Trapp is passionate about the opportunities she has to support students and their needs in her job as a counselor.
“I get to know the students personally through the one-on-one interactions that I have with them,” she said. ”As a teacher, I had an academic focus. As a counselor, I get to know students, who might struggle mentally, emotionally and behaviorally. I learn about their anxiety or the uncertainty of their home lives, and I work to help them the best that I can.”
Throughout her educational career, Trapp said, “I have seen a need for students to feel that they are accepted in a positive way at school and at home. I want to help them feel like they belong.”
When her son Grayson was born three years ago, Trapp discovered the story that she was meant to write. Through the struggles she saw among boys, especially those of color, Trapp realized that she wanted to share a story about the many wonderful qualities that they possess.
Her book, “Brown Boy, I Love You,” was published in June 2022 to highlight their extraordinary qualities.
“I want my son and others to have positivity in their lives and to let them know that they are enough … that they are supported. People don’t see brown and black boys very often in encouraging stories,” she said.
Further, Trapp pointed out, “People can be so hard on boys, in general. They don’t always receive the affection that they should; yet, they need it so much. I want to be able to facilitate the conversation about helping them grow and thrive and have confidence in themselves.”
She chose Andre Sullivan, an author, actor and illustrator, to create the drawings for her book. Their collaboration was a perfect fit. With a background in communications, Sullivan, of Greenville, had created “Just Like Me,” a campaign that promotes diversity and harmony among today’s youth.
Trapp shared photos of her life with Grayson as a basis for the illustrator to use for the book. “He captured our story together perfectly,” she said. “Andre is a great illustrator. Finding him to complete my illustrations was meant to be.”
Trapp is receiving invitations for speaking engagements, and said she does “a happy dance” any time a book is sold.
With a whirlwind life as a school counselor, mother and author, Trapp is actively involved with the Lander University Alumni Board of Directors, for which she is secretary.
“I wanted to serve on the Alumni Board as a way to give back to the University and to visit Lander frequently. I knew that serving on the Alumni Board would bring me back to campus, the campus I love so much, and have so many positive memories connected to ... It encourages me to be more involved and stay connected as an alumna,” she said.
Trapp, who grew up in Blair, has felt at home at Lander from the moment a tour guide “made me see myself at Lander,” she said. “She made me feel like I could be a success here. I felt like I was going to be supported as a student.”
That was the first step. From that point forward, Trapp became involved in every aspect of college life. She joined Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and was a member of Lander’s Cheerleaders and Dance Team. Trapp applied to become a Presidential Ambassador, a job that gave her the chance to inspire prospective students.
“I always tell students to get involved on campus,” she said. “It’s going to make your life so much better. Ten years later, I am still friends with many of the people from the organizations I was involved in at Lander.”
Leaving the campus after graduation was difficult, she said. “I kept thinking ‘is this over?’ I wasn’t ready to leave.”
However, as Trapp has learned, she hasn’t left completely. She’s coming back to serve her alma mater in a different way.
“I want people to come back to see all of the great things that are happening,” she said. “The campus has grown, but it hasn’t lose its close-knit appeal. I want to encourage people to come back, like I do. That is important to me.”
And, now, she has the opportunity to bring Grayson to campus, too, and share the experiences she had and the ones that await for future students.Her book, “Brown Boy, I Love You,” is available for purchase at Amazon.Trapp can be contact for speaking engagements at firstname.lastname@example.org.