OAKLAND, Calif. - This month, the work of an Oakland educator and celebrated author of children’s books was featured at Target stores to mark Black History Month. The author’s work and success also earned her a visit to the White House on Tuesday.
Claudia Walker has held many roles and careers. In addition to being the founder of a multi-media education company, focused on highlighting the Black experience, she currently works as a community school manager at Coliseum College Prep Academy in East Oakland, where she’s been for ten years.
But the path that led her to becoming an educator, author and company founder was not a direct one.
Walker attended Spelman College in Atlanta, ranked among the country’s top Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). After graduating, she went to New York, where she worked on Wall Street as a financial analyst.
But she eventually left Wall Street to fulfill other aspirations, bringing the Oakland native back home.
"Although she enjoyed working in finance, Claudia’s first loves - writing and teaching - eventually drew her back to California," it explained on the website of her company HBCU Prep School.
In her work as a teacher, Walker found that she frequently shared with her students about her life at Spelman and her experiences on Wall Street, but she noticed many children could not relate.
"More often than not, she realized that they’d never been exposed to Black Colleges or to the world of investing," her company website shared.
So Walker set out to close that gap and put her skills as both educator and finance expert to work.
"‘I wanted to be part of the solution so I started taking my students to college fairs, hosting summer enrichment camps, and teaching financial literacy classes," the author shared.
Despite those efforts, Walker said that she found "it wasn’t enough," and she took another leap, with hopes of garnering a greater reach. "I wanted to impact more students, so I decided to launch my own publishing company," she explained.
Through her self-published works, Walker has shared her knowledge and experiences, writing about the legacy HBCUs and also promoted financial literacy. Her best-selling series books include "The ABCs of HBCUs" and "The ABCs of Black Wall Street."
(OUSD/HBCU Prep School Publishing)
On Instagram, the author shared how emotional it was to see her books up on the shelves to celebrate Black History Month.
"Over the weekend my husband and I took a trip to Target to see my books on the BHM display and it was a surreal experience," she posted last month. "As a self published author, I’m so excited for all the opportunities that are opening for those of us who choose to create our own platform to share the stories that are in our heart."
Walker said that her role as a mother also helped her tell the stories in her heart and shape the messages she wanted to put out there, especially for young Black people.
"I’m a mom of three, and I read books to them at night, and I just recognized that there was a gap in the market for books that highlighted the things that I thought were important, specifically around Black colleges, Black culture, financial literacy," she shared in a news release from the Oakland Unified School District.
The exposure she’s received from the popularity of her books has led to a big nod of acknowledgment from the White House. The author was invited to take part in a roundtable discussion on Tuesday about Blacks in cybersecurity, Walked said.
"There are going to be some stakeholders there, some politicians there, and then we will announce commitments, and one of the commitments is that I will be writing a book about cyber security for children," the author explained.
Walker said that she hoped to be a source of inspiration for her young readers, not just through the pages of her books, where she sought to educate children on the opportunities and possibilities before them, but also through the success she’s achieved by going after her dreams.
"Just because you’re doing one particular thing, that doesn’t mean that that’s the end of the story for you," Walker said, adding, "I hope that the work I am putting out inspires the next generation of thought leaders, of artists, of HBCU graduates, of Wall Street analysts. You know, the sky’s the limit."