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story.lead_photo.caption Genia Bullock has served as the public relations director for Texarkana Arkansas School District since 2003. Photo by Hunt Mercier / Texarkana Gazette.

Growing up in Wichita, Kansas, Dr. Genia Johnson Bullock had strong female models in her granny, mother and two older sisters.

Her parents divorced when she was an infant, but her paternal grandmother helped her mother bring up the children, which included a younger brother.

"We were taught to get up every day and conquer whatever we had to do," Genia said. "I don't recall ever being absent from school."

Genia started college at Wichita State University but dropped out to take a computer tech job at IBM. It was at IBM that she met her husband, Ron Bullock, also a computer tech. Just four months later, the two were wed prior to Ron's transfer to Texarkana.

"IBM didn't have a position for me here, so I had to go out and find a job," she said. "In 1992 there weren't many African American women in the computer tech world; many women used computers, but it was really hard to find one that repaired them."

Not being able to find a job led Genia to take an initiative that not many people would be willing to take.

"I interviewed with 3N1 Office Products and didn't get a response, so I told them I would work for free several weeks and they would be able to see what I could do for them," she said. "They eventually hired me."

Having a heart for volunteerism and community involvement, Genia said she felt lost at first in Texarkana and sought out like-minded people and organizations. She left 3N1 to work at a local nonprofit, Ozan Inghram Iron Mountain Neighborhood Corp. This led her to a talk with her husband about the possibility of the family surviving on his salary alone.

"He helped me make the decision to continue working there for free," she said.

She had learned to write grants there, and used that knowledge to write several that helped her fund a state-of-the-art computer lab to partner with day cares, school districts and senior organizations to help others learn technology.

In 2003, Genia's career path took another turn. She was offered the position of public relations director for Texarkana Arkansas School District, a position she still holds today.

She also enrolled at Texarkana College, then Texas A&M University-Texarkana, where she received bachelor's and master's degrees and, on Dec. 13, 2019, her doctorate degree.

Being a team player was instilled in Genia at an early age. She often accompanied her granny on her job to clean the homes of oil company owners in Wichita, and she also was very active in the local community.

"It's necessary to know your history. That's why we can do so much. We stand on the shoulders of others," she said. "I want to empower my children to be all they can be. That's why we watch historical shows and documentaries. I use every possible teachable moment. They need to celebrate each other."

As a community leader, Genia has been involved in many organizations, but cherishes her role of wife and mother.

"Having children is the greatest opportunity in the world, to pour knowledge into another human being," she said. "I value being a mom and I don't take it for granted."

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