Jayaira Grhim, 22, is not only an art education major at Youngstown State University, but also the leader of S.P.E.A.K., the author of “Painfully Beautiful,” a General Motors employee and a soon-to-be artist featured in the RAW Showcase in Cleveland.
S.P.E.A.K. is a non-profit organization that Grhim’s sister, Joselyn Parker, started a few years ago in Youngstown.
“What we do as a unit is inspire, uplift and motivate people through words or other forms of positive expression,” Grhim said. “We also do a lot of community volunteering and serving.”
Grhim said she recently started hosting Speak Up Sundays the first Sunday of every month. The admission is free, and food and raffle tickets are sold for funding.
“There’s a live band and anyone who has a positive message is more than welcome to share it on our stage,” she said.
On March 29, Grhim is having a signing celebration of her new book “Painfully Beautiful” at the Fresh Oil Community Center. “Painfully Beautiful” is a collection of poems based on her life experiences and imagination, which she worked on for most of 2013.
In addition to being a full-time student and launching her new book, Grhim works 40 hours per week at GM. She laughs about her lack of sleep, but said she is young enough to do it.
“God willing I have my whole life ahead of me, but it’s better to have a solid foundation now then wait later wishing I would have done this or that,” she said. “I’m pursuing my dreams, doing what I love to do — who wouldn’t want to do that?”
Chris Gunther, a YSU student and Rookery Radio host of the KT & CG Show, is a friend of Grhim’s and sometimes a co-host of Speak Up Sundays.
“She [Grhim] has a powerful voice and speaks up about things most people shy away from,” Gunther said.
Gunther also said that Grhim has a powerful persona that she brings into any room. He first met her when she was reading poetry, and that drew him to want to be a part of the movements she creates through words.
Part of Grhim’s motivation derived from growing up in the projects of Campbell — she wanted better for herself.
“My motivation behind it is to be an inspiration for people all over the world, help at-risk youth and just make a difference in general, one word at a time,” Grhim said. “I believe that words are powerful, and when the voice behind those words is fearless, change happens.”
Grhim is part of the RAW:natural born artists’ showcase in Cleveland on March 19 at the Agora Theater. RAW is an independent arts organization that helps independent artists around the world within the first 10 years of their careers. Grhim also has her first poetry slam at Ohio State University on March 25.
“Art of all kind is where my heart is … I have no doubt in my mind that this is a huge part of my purpose in life,” Grhim said.