Ihunaanya

Join Us On Our First Adventure

 

Our Story

We've loved every minute of our journey.  Growing up in the black community we find a sense of togetherness like no other.  As we grow older, we see our community fall and grow apart.  This project embarks upon a quest to uplift the community.  Ihunaanya is an Igbo phrase representing love or romance.  The Ouroboros symbol evokes an emblem of wholeness or infinity in a circle.  We are an ostranenie--encouraging Black people to see common things as wild, strange, or unfamiliar; de-familiarizing what is known in order to know it differently or more deeply. 

Founder | An Adventurista is Born

Dominique Alston is an alumna of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she studied Mass Communications with a focus in performance.  Her minor was in the study of African and African-American Diasporic studies.  Within this field she gained knowledge that helped her open doors in her life, career, and create an ever changing view of what Blackness is.
Growing up as a biracial child with a primarily black family in the small town of Coats, NC, Dominique's experience varies across the board from overcoming the hatred of her hair and features to dealing with racism from friends head on. 
She has volunteered thousands of hours and raised thousands of dollars for multiple charities including the Children's Miracle Network, Masonic Children's Home of Oxford, iAutism , and many more.  Teaching is Dominique's passion in life.  After mentoring over 30 young women, she is now ready to tackle the  social, mental, physical, and spiritual issues of the Black community.  

Co-Founder | Wellness Coach

With a Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology along with a minor in Anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Kellie Imperator KellinaThornton has the research capabilities and instincts for helping our fellow brethren.  Therefore, she focuses on the positive psychology of the family.  From Stem, North Carolina, Kellie had a lot of fun growing up in a little country town, but always knew she wanted to experience more than the usual hanging out with friends on the porch and being updated on the latest gossip--nonetheless it always seemed like no one around her wanted to see her reaching for more.  After graduating May of 2014, Kellie reflected on her college experience as tough and more difficult than anyone could have prepared her for.  The love and support she received from family and friends are what kept her going, she says.


          “Genuine love holds more power than you can believe and letting people love me has allowed me to show myself more of the love I deserve.”


After moving to California in January of 2015, she was able to begin her tumultuous journey of self-love which has allowed her to experience what it feels like to be happy within herself without the feeling judgment around her.  


          “Ịhunaanya is beautiful because we are sharing the power of love with our brothers and sisters to empower our community.  Being able to be surrounded by a group of people that look like me, sound like me, and most importantly, love and support me without judgment is nothing less than amazing.  We are reviving a sense of pride, love and blackness for our brethren just by reminding people the importance of love.”


East Coast Regional Manager

Amber Gilbert is our Membership Director taking great care in entrusting the family grows the right way!  Amber Gilbert is a native of Coats, North Carolina.  She is a full-time student of North Carolina Central University, where she is studying Criminal Justice with a concentration in Law Enforcement. Amber is a 21 year old advocate for African-American love and appreciation.
 
         "I have been blessed with the opportunities of a lifetime experiencing new adventures and struggles with all walks of life. Over the years and circumstances I have grown to love the African-American culture and everything that comes with it. Blackness to me is love, as African-Americans we are taught all of our lives our color may not be accepted in all situations and to not let the  judgment of others deter our love for ourselves.    Through our situations and circumstances, we may not be truly able to encourage ourselves to remember we have to love ourselves, let alone any of our brothers and sisters."

 For Ihunaanya, Amber wishes to give and receive the gift of inspiration.  She understands the importance of gaining the tools necessary to strive for greatness everyday,  and the impact of helping a brother or sister along the way.

Team Leader and Wellness Coach

Zoya Yaseka is a Jamaican native, hailing from the countryside of Mocho, Clarendon.  Coming to America to be with her mother, she grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland, and not long after arriving in the states, she fell in love with the sport of gymnastics, eventually becoming a nationally ranked competitor and earning a full ride to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

During her time at UNC, Zoya earned a Bachelor of Arts in Exercise and Sport Science, and two individual and team conference titles.  She also sustained two concussions that would cause her to ask “what now?” She began working in the university's athletic communications department as a writer while coaching gymnastics, both as a volunteer for the university and in the area. 

While she was coming into her new self the mother of one of her best friends was battling breast cancer for the second time and in an effort to show support and love, THRIVE was created.  Indirectly creating the brand and spreading the message that we all have the ability to do more than live or even survive inspired her to find new strength in so many ways and helped established a new affirming message for life.  “By spreading the message that we should be aiming to truly live to the fullest and in purpose as a lifestyle not as a fleeting fad, we can all thrive.”

In the summer of 2013 she began working for the university as a volunteer assistant coach as well as in the area at a local gym.  She was also offered her first modeling contract.  Since that time Zoya has only continued to grow into new facets of herself, moving past fitness, onto the runway, and even the screen.  Her biggest passion in life has always been to inspire mental, emotional, and spiritual strength as well cultivating minds concerned with legacy like the one she plans to leave for her loved ones and the world.

Wellness Coach & Yoga Instructor

Emmesha White