April Short has many interests aside from her career in healthcare analytics. But one that has risen to the forefront is her desire to help create a bright future for her hometown. That desire has led her to be involved in civic activities like driving voters to the polls, and it has propelled her to become a voice for social justice and racial harmony. Her story encourages us to be active in bringing about the future that we desire.
Q) What was your upbringing like in Person County?
A) I was born and raised here. When I was younger, we lived near Woody St., so we were sort of within the city limits, and then towards middle school we ended up moving out to the Allensville area. And that's the area in which I grew up. So essentially, I became a country girl.
I grew up in an era where Dorothy Pulliam would pick us up on the church van and we would do activities in the summer with her. Reverend Foust, who was the pastor at First Baptist Church at the time, would also pick us up and we would do activities with First Baptist, even though that wasn't my home church. It was something great they did to keep kids off the street and give them something to do in the summertime.
I went to North Elementary and then Northern Middle School and I graduated high school in 2003, the best class to graduate from Person High School.
Growing up I was always busy. My mom made sure of that. I was always involved in athletics. In elementary school I was a cheerleader with Parks and Rec. And then in middle school I cheered for the school and I did track and field. I did both of those in high school too. I was a cheerleader under Tawana Seets! Also, Angela Thomas and Miss Tucker. I love Miss Tucker. Those were my cheerleading coaches and I learned a lot from them.
After high school I went to Tampa, Fla. to study fashion and design for a while. And while in Tampa, I learned that I was pregnant. And so, I did what any Southern girl would do. I came back home to be close to my mom and my grandma and so I could have my support system.
Q) What is your career path and what are your proudest achievements?
A) I work in Healthcare Analytics. Prior to the company I work with now, I worked at Duke for 10 years. Before that, I worked at the VA in Durham for two years. So, I’ve been in healthcare almost 15 years. But I have tons of certifications. I'm always working on something. I told my friends if we were the show “Girlfriends”, I would be Lynn because Lynn was always doing something. Always in school, always learning something. And so I’m kind of like that. I like to say I’m a Renaissance woman. As far as some of the things that I’m into, I am a notary public. I was actually the first in Person County to obtain an electronic notary. When I went to the Register of Deeds, they and I had to read over the paperwork together to figure out how to do it and swear me in and make sure everything was right because nobody at the time had it. I think now some people might have it because of COVID and notaries have become such that you can do it via videophone or video. But I’ve been a notary for about five years and my goal is to eventually teach the notary class. So that's one of the things I’m into. I’m also a licensed cosmetologist. So, I like to stay busy.
As for my future goals, for the last two years, I've offered transportation to the polls during the election seasons. And I’ve been, out there, unaffiliated with any candidate, but definitely pushing and advocating for what and who I believe would be best for our county. Cheerleading for them, doing what I know how to do. So my goal for Person County—and I'm taking it not only as a personal goal, but as a career goal—is to help shift and change the dynamics here. I feel like our town is stagnant in many ways and there are so many things that are so far behind here compared to other counties our size. And I want to help change that. I want to somehow help provide housing for people. I want to at least make things fair. I feel like the playing field here isn’t quite as fair as it should be. And I just want to do my part while I'm here. Even if I don't see the benefits, at least generations after me can say, hey, it's like this because somebody before me took the time, sacrificed and tried to make it better here.
Q) What organizations or community endeavors do you participate in?
A) I'm currently the president of P.A.I.R., which stands for Personians Against Injustice and Racism. It’s an organization that was started in 2020 around the time of George Floyd’s murder. It just sort of developed spontaneously and organically. I had started to do some community activism on my own a few years ago, particularly after I saw the KKK come through Person County. At that time I had a business, a beauty supply store, which was located in uptown Roxboro. And as they were parading through Main St. with a police escort, my children were going down the side of the road to our car. So they witnessed that, which bothered me greatly. So the next day I was out there with my daughter and we had our signs and we walked up and down the boulevard with our slogans from MLK with what we felt like mattered. At the time I think she was ten years old, but we were out there and we got crazy looks, but they knew that we were there and that we should be tolerated. So I think from doing things like that, people kind of said, well, April will be willing to work within that context. So that's how I ended up in the group.
But, a lot of people in Person County were affected by George Floyd’s death—it affected people all over the world. And nobody wants his death to be in vain. So, a lot of people came together to just do something, to not let their town be the next area where there could be a George Floyd. And so that's how P.A.I.R. came together, because we all want the community to get together and be unified and we don’t want racism to continue to divide us.
In this organization, we are working on so many things to try to change the dynamic here. And when you're dealing with people who are still stagnant and they don't like change because they feel like they're going to lose something, it can be an uphill battle. But it's the battle that I'm willing to face and this group is made up of so many strong-minded, strong-willed, very intelligent people. And I'm glad to be a part of this organization here in Roxboro.
I’m not in any other organizations because I tend to move independently, but one of my habits—well, it used to be a habit, I haven't done it in a while—but I was an extreme couponer. And so fun fact about me, I haven't bought toilet paper since 2019. So during the early days of COVID when stores were sold out of toilet paper, I already had some. So I never had to go hunting for toilet paper. And during that time, I gave out toilet paper to families, I gave out toilet paper to the elderly, anybody who needed it, who couldn't get it. When I see a need, I like to help out if I can.
Q) Why is it important that women be recognized for their foundational work in our community and our nation?
A) Women are powerful. Women are wonderful. Women have changed the world and will continue to change the world. I think women need to be highlighted because you want to give people their flowers while they are here. Let them know they are appreciated. When I speak of my past cheerleading instructors, I appreciate them. I think sometimes, when I was younger, I was thinking that they might have been a little hard on me, but actually when I got older I understood their reasoning and rationale and I’m grateful. I want the community, this county, to look at all the leaders that we have who are women and celebrate them. Let the little girls know that, you know, there were times where people felt like a woman's place was in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant. But now in our world, in our day and time, you can be impactful. We have a woman Vice President, which has never happened. Representation matters. Our little girls can see Kamala Harris and say, hey, I can be anything in the world.
Q) What do you envision for the future of Person County?
If I could have it my way, Person County would be booming and thriving. There would be more jobs here. There would be more recreational activities to attract more people and bring more jobs. Teachers would come here earning a livable wage and want to stay here instead of teaching our babies for a few years and then leaving and taking all that great experience somewhere else. I want Person County to have recreational things for our youth so they have things to do outside of school. And that growth would be a recruiting tool for doctors, for educators, for police officers to want to work in our town. It trickles down to each and every entity in this county. I see Person County as a place that can be thriving financially, culturally, and socially.
Q) What is your advice for girls and young women who look to you as motivation?
Ask questions. There's no harm in asking questions. If you don't know, you don't know, so ask questions. Don't be afraid to speak up. And if you feel like you need someone to talk to, if you have that kind of person in your life, go to that person, open up dialogue. So that's my advice to little girls. If you don’t know, or you don’t understand, or you want more information, ask your question. Don't feel like you will be demeaned or looked down upon if you don't know something. Speak up, baby.