Pernella Rose for Afro Inspired Magazine
Pernella Rose for Afro Inspired Magazine | Foto: Pernella Rose for Afro Inspired Magazine

Pernella Rose, The Bridge to Prosperity

Por: Edward Rueda

17, June, 2022 en Afro Inspired

The Bridge to Prosperity

Geraldine Zialcita

Pernella Rose Sommerville signifies a breath of fresh air, serves to be a connector of the spirit, and is the definition of a woman with a purpose.

Pernella Rose for Afro Inspired Magazine
Pernella Rose for Afro Inspired Magazine

Pernella was born in a small town in Southern, CA, and is the youngest of ten children—five boys and five girls. Her loving parents were wise and progressive, teaching everything from Biblical principles, Socrates, to Emily Post—her father served in the Air Force, traveling around the world, and yet was extremely present in the home attending every football game, play, movie night, etc. and her mother dualed as a stay-at-home mom and emergency room nurse. Growing up in a close-knit family Pernella was encouraged to dream big. As a child, Pernella’s favorite TV show was Style with Elsa Klensch, a woman known for her sophistication and panache who hosted the fashion news. “I watched her show every Saturday morning and was smitten by her elegance and journalistic approach. I was drawn to the show because of my love for fashion and wanted to emulate her profession. I would peruse fashion magazines and clip the pages to hang them on my ‘Wall of Fashion.’ The models were tall, lanky, beautiful, and dark chocolate brown. These images motivated me to follow in Elsa Klensch’s footsteps and become the public relations arm who represented the models and the fashion brands they dawned,” she shares.

Pernella graduated High School at sixteen years old and longed to pursue a degree in fashion, but since her parents valued traditional education, they didn’t fathom a fashion credential to be suitable for their daughter. Her mother encouraged Pernella to pursue a career in Medicine, so she chose Nursing to be like her mom. While in nursing school, Pernella had the opportunity to take Psychology courses which resonated much more with her. Realizing that Nursing wasn’t her cup of tea, Pernella shifted to Psychology. After graduating from college, she acquired her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, minoring in African Studies. Shortly after, at twenty-two years old, Pernella worked as a Therapist/Clinician at a Mental Health facility treating adolescent patients for over seven years.

Pernella Rose for Afro Inspired Magazine
Pernella Rose for Afro Inspired Magazine

While she counseled, Pernella’s childhood dream continued to haunt her, and she felt a restless need to entertain the possibility of fulfilling her calling. After informing all her contacts that she was interested in making a career shift to the fashion industry, a delightful friend provided the number of an acquaintance who worked at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles. This compelled Pernella to make that fateful call that would change her destiny.

“I realized you don’t need to be on a couch to help people—you can improve mental and emotional wellbeing in any profession. I was nervous but geared up to get my feet wet. When I called the number my friend gave me, I couldn’t contain my excitement, not realizing the lady was from the Accounting department. She flatly blurted out, ‘You’re too bubbly for Accounting’, yet was kind enough to transfer me to the Career Counseling department which was right down my alley,” she laughs. “After a series of interviews conducted in one month, I thought I had bagged the position. Unfortunately, they decided to hire a lady who had worked for FIDM for seventeen years in various roles. However, the universe did work wonders because they called back to hire me for a different department to manage recruitment and to train other lecturers,” she narrates.

Pernella’s responsibilities involved visiting many cities throughout Southern, CA, including Palm Springs and Beverly Hills. Los Angeles, San Diego, and Orange County, teaching lectures for High School senior students. “Most students were at a crossroads, deciding their future and career path. My role was to offer them insight and direction, providing upward of twenty courses. I had one chance to positively impact their lives, as I was in a different classroom every day; with kids ranging from prominent families to underprivileged and underdeveloped communities. My goal was to motivate and inspire them in many ways because that was what they needed and deserved. Countless letters poured in from classroom to classroom, with students expressing how I changed their life, and this was such a rewarding feeling,” she relays.

After six years of working for a fulfilling job that enabled Pernella to further make a difference in the youth, she encountered a terrible car accident wherein the car was a total wreck, and she had cracked six ribs. During her healing and recuperation process, Pernella surfed the internet, hoping to send an electronic card―eCard to her friend for her birthday. She stumbled upon a Christian eCard, and after clicking the link, Pernella spotted a Christian jobs section on the site that led her to a company called Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF). Little did Pernella know that her random browsing online would establish a serendipitous moment.

Pernella Rose for Afro Inspired Magazine
Pernella Rose for Afro Inspired Magazine

“They were hiring for a Manager of Planned Giving position. This Missions organization happened to be headquartered in my hometown. After calling them up and navigating through a rigorous interview process where they also canvassed information about me from former employers, neighbors, friends, and family members, I nailed the job. There were two sets of staff—Associate Staff which means you are an employee but not a missionary, and a Career Staff which equated to missionaries who lived in the sixty remote countries MAF represented around the world. My boss wanted me to experience both aspects of the company, so I trained as an Associate and Career Staff. This allowed me to travel extensively, providing seminars for missionaries and donors alike, on estate planning. I traveled throughout the United States, six countries on the continent of Africa, Latin America, and more. I had the most memorable experiences in these countries. My travels enabled me to meet the nationals. It humanized my work. There was now a face and name and purpose associated with those bequests. Every moment of my trips was captured in my journal,” she states.

While Pernella represented the organization, she immersed herself in diverse cultures, which opened her eyes, broadened her horizons, and most of all changed her life and her perspective. Several years after Pernella started working with MAF, the organization realized it was too costly to be stationed in California so they moved their head office to Idaho and offered a relocation package to their employees willing to transfer there. “Something I never thought about prior to Idaho, I happened to be the only African American who worked for the company headquarters. The people in Idaho were so warm and welcoming during our initial visit with over three hundred employees. However, I received a different kind of treatment the second time around, when shopping for a home on my own. The locals gave me condescending looks, didn’t care to attend to my questions, and would even clutch their purses each time I happened to be around. It was so foreign to me, she shared. I had never experienced this type of behavior in my entire life.” she describes.

Learning what transpired in Idaho, the organization felt outraged and the President and other members, wrote letters to the mayor, city officials, and places where Pernella received discriminatory treatment. Shortly after, Pernella received apology letters for their behavior. In Pernella’s preparation to move to Nampa, Idaho, with two weeks left for the surveyors to estimate and start shipping her belongings, Pernella received a call from the Executive Director of the Redlands Chamber of Commerce who offered her the Director, Membership Services position. “I just don’t see you there,” she explained to Pernella. After careful consideration to leave her beloved position at MAF, Pernella accepted the offer, affirming this would be a new season for her career. Her responsibilities included serving as a spokesperson for the business community with marketing, special events, online programs, and panel discussions. After several years of establishing her network, Pernella was laid off due to state funding.

Pernella Rose for Afro Inspired Magazine
Pernella Rose for Afro Inspired Magazine

“Unbeknownst to me, I received a call with information that I was on the front page of the Redlands Daily Facts newspaper with an article about my departure citing, ‘Losing the Face of Redlands.’ Soon afterward, I received nine job offers from various business owners. My parents advised me not to make a drastic decision and visit my niece in San Francisco instead. There I could gather my thoughts for my next move. While in San Francisco, I contemplated applying to the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising SF, but my niece suggested I look into the Academy of Art University. Taking heed of her advice, I dropped off my resume, and two hours later, my phone rang with the HR manager on the other line who informed me that a position had just opened today―Manager, Public Relations. I had acquired a certification in public relations and fit the role. Although I didn’t know anybody in SF except for my niece, I embraced the position as their PR Manager providing media relations, and special events, and was promoted three times thereafter ending my tenure as the Director of Campus Life. This was truly a dream career, but, sadly they dissolved the department and outsourced,” she informs.

In pursuit to spread her wings further, equipped with knowledge, skill, and experience under her belt, Pernella launched her signature brand Public Relations by Pernella Rose—PRbyPR. Through her connections and being visible in sought-after and important events like New York Fashion Week, Pernella garnered clients and evolved in her career. Making headway, Pernella was hired as the Director of Communications and Business Development for Epi Center MedSpa, the first medical spa in the nation, located in San Francisco. “I wear multiple hats― from managing the company’s operations, internal and external communications, new business development, patient consultations, establishing custom treatment plans, fostering customer relationships, and providing cohesion and teamwork. It boils down to perspective—people want to feel confident, happy, healthy, and good,” she describes.

Pernella’s purpose symbolizes a thread of connection―a connector of people’s dreams. She has won various awards but believes the key to success is embodying a positive stand on people and life. Through her kindness and generosity, Pernella uses her platform to create videos and write positive affirmations daily since MySpace social media started. “Modesty aside, people have told me that they can be in a crowded room, but I make them feel like they are the only person there. I believe in a positive spin-off because everyone deserves to feel worthy and seen. I want people to feel valued. I want to offer an altruistic experience to everyone I encounter. My favorite quote is from Julia Cameron, ‘We are meant to midwife dreams for one another, Success occurs in clusters’, and that’s what I practice every day,” she conveys.

Pernella Rose for Afro Inspired Magazine
Pernella Rose for Afro Inspired Magazine

With Juneteenth now being a Federal Holiday, Pernella believes that this gives recognition to one momentous piece of African American history, and there’s so much more yet to be told and recognized. “I want to offer an additional narrative for the black community with my story. So often, we are only exposed to the ‘rags to riches’ tale in our community. I hail from a familial line of community and thought leaders, activists, educators, and entrepreneurs, who didn’t necessarily encompass that one-sided tale. My ancestors on my father’s side the Blango’s didn’t come to America as slaves—they migrated from the West Indies investing and establishing themselves in the Carolinas. The plot of the TV series, Dawson’s Creek was derived from my paternal great, great, great, grandfather’s story and I still have family that lives in that region today. I believe that breaking stereotypes and creating new narratives starts at home with what you teach and project to your children. My parents exemplified and encouraged excellence. They shared that although all experiences are met with challenges, you embrace them, navigate through them, grow, and thrive. We were taught to love every aspect of ourselves, especially and including the color of our skin; ‘from ink to pink’ as my mom used to say. We were exposed to our history, education, and spirituality, fostering the idea that we could do and become anything. Juneteenth is a celebration of our African American heritage, and I hope our stories can shed light and inspiration to others. It’s about time we have this holiday,” she proclaims.

Juneteenth and African American history has impacted Pernella’s career with the knowledge of where she comes from and the many people that paved the way to where she is now. “I’m proud to be a Black woman with a strong family heritage and lineage. This is a celebration of who we are,” she declares.

Although this multi-faceted woman has reached the pinnacle of her career, she plans to nurture and expand PRbyPR and continue touching people’s lives through her wisdom, kindness, love, and positivity. “My ultimate goal is to create a one-stop-shop specifically designed for women to support one another and help them to perfect their brand—their brand being them. I want to provide a training arena for various life skill-sets such as finance, marketing, resume writing, business development, etiquette resources, motherhood, medicine, networking, etc. I’m a member of the Junior League of San Francisco where I served as the previous VP and they have requested me to provide some aforementioned pieces of training. My friend once said and trademarked, ‘your network is your net-worth’ and this is where I’m heading.” She smiles.

Pernella values her strong relationship with God and prays daily. She lives by honesty, compassion, and love. When she’s not working, this amazing woman spends her free time with friends and family and hopes to continue inspiring the people she meets. “You should always run after your dreams―chase them, be them, and live them. I see a door and I walk through it,” she advises.

Pernella Rose for Afro Inspired Magazine
Pernella Rose for Afro Inspired Magazine

Pernella is humbled by all her blessings and hopes to leave a memorable legacy behind. “I am on a mission to change the world one prayer and positive thought at a time,” she concludes.

Looking back, the source that led Pernella to come full circle was her childhood dream which foreshadowed her path―paralleling the past and the future. Along the way, every job she obtained, every person she met, and every experience she encountered served to be a series of serendipitous and auspicious moments. Yet, Pernella never took anything for granted, living life with gratitude, and spreading love, light, and positivity with everyone she meets.

Pernella is the cord that connects to your soul so you never feel isolated. She gives a piece of herself so you can shine and thrive. She leaves footprints in your heart so you can always feel loved.

Pernella Rose Sommerville is The Bridge to Prosperity.

Head to the link for the full articles and exclusive images:

Writer: GERLADINE ZIALCITA @geraldineauthor
Hair and Make-Up Artist: ALEA MARIE WOODS @anointedhandss
Featured Fashion Designer: COLLEEN QUEN @colleenquen
Art Director: NIGEL JOHN DEL MUNDO @nigeldelmundo
Photographer: VINCENT GOTTI @vinniegotti
Location Courtesy of: FRANK NOLAN of Vanguard Properties

Published by @plpg.globalmedia 2022© PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA S.A.S | Global CEO, Chairman, President, Founder & Editor in Chief Edward R Rueda @ceo.plpg