- Durham Public Schools
Marilee Hall: Entrepreneur, Academic, Activist
Early College student Marilee Hall seems beyond her years. Not only has she already jump-started her career as an entrepreneur, but she’s created a system of project management that has literally turned her academic life around.
Marilee and her business partners, Zaida Ma’at and Jania Hall, co-founded and operate Off the Hook, an eco-friendly business that sells crocheted reusable coasters, gloves, and plushees. She says her mom and dad have already invested in the business merely because they want to support what makes Marilee happy. She also loves to cook, bake, and garden. Her parents love her breakfast food, especially scrambled eggs-and-cheese and her pancakes.
Accustomed to multi-tasking as a result of having lived in a number of states, Marilee has learned how to acclimate to new surroundings since her mother is a traveling clinical educator. Now a five-year resident of North Carolina, she was born in Delaware, and has lived in Iowa, North Dakota, Virginia and a number of other places. Her experiences have been abundant and fun, she says. She loves learning about new cultures, but it’s difficult to move away after making friends.
“Those people who have been in my life have influenced my growing up a lot. I’ve learned how to make connections to help better myself in the future and I’ve made friends that will last for centuries,” said Marilee. “I have grown to love North Carolina. It has been such a close second home (to Delaware) to me. I’ve lived in Delaware for a large chunk of my life but North Carolina has definitely made an impact because there’s so much to do, so many cultures, so much to see. And being in Early College has made me realize how important education is and building connections is.”
Family is a constant, she says. A fun fact is that she, her sister Angelee, and aunt (her mother’s youngest sister) have the same birthday, January 3. “Three birthdays, one cake,” she says with a smile.
So that she can spend time with family, study, and run her business, Marilee has created her own time-management system as an Early College student. She said that her workload had been becoming unmanageable so she began searching for answers. She describes her freshman year with one word: stressed.
“After freshman year, my planner became my best friend. I grew to love my planner and I use it every single day,” said Marilee, who added that her teachers have helped her break large projects down into manageable pieces. The color-coded task system, she says, has been a key component of her work-life balance. She codes assignments, tests, reminders, and major events.
Marilee found that specificity worked well for her.
“The best way to use a planner is to be in-depth and make it very specific. My grades have improved. I have less stress. I have more free time,” she said.
But she doesn’t squander it. She serves on the Honor Society, and she takes the time to talk to her teachers and her peers.
When disruptions occur, she takes action.
“I assess the problem,” said Marilee. But what may work for her will differ for every individual, she cautions. “You have to experiment and find what’s best for you.”
As she focuses on entrepreneurship and perfects the art of time management, she also plans for her future.
“I hope to get a scholarship to North Carolina Central University due to my credits, and major in psychology to become a clinical psychologist,” said Marilee. She wants to be “someone people can talk to and lay their emotions down with. I hope to fill in some of those spaces.”
Ultimately, Marilee has “found passion in a lot of different things” and wants to promote happiness. “How about I spread my joy to other people and make some other person’s day happier?” she says.
Marilee is an activist in the making, and she encourages her peers to use their voices.
“Reach out. Don’t stay in a bubble. Try and make connections. Get to know people. Don’t be afraid to speak out and show people who you are. What you do now will help you get into college,” she said.
And college will prepare her for service.
“For me, I really want to become an activist and make changes in America,” said Marilee. She wants to bring attention to the ills of society and help make changes.
“Our biggest tool is social media. I want to use that to bring awareness so future generations won’t have to worry about going to school and not coming out alive. I want them to be better off,” she said.
Marilee also understands how time flies, particularly once you enter high school.
“You only have four years to plan. You can’t stay here (in high school) forever,” she notes.
She mentions her middle school years which were six years ago, when she thought she had so much time left before high school. “Time just moves so fast. I’m going to have to pay taxes!”
Her mom encourages her to run for office one day. And she’s thankful for the support and encouragement. She says she’s thankful for all of her elders, her grandmother’s wisdom, even the etiquette lessons she taught her. All will bode well as she transitions into adulthood.
“It’s challenging to find your identity and determine what you want to do after high school and how you want to present yourself. It’s also very exciting making friends and decisions about the future, to have those experiences of friends, prom, activities, the future in general.”
As for the future, she has a prediction: “We’ll see a lot more changes in this generation. Progressive changes. I’m very excited to see how the future generations will utilize their resources to make a positive change.”