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Tamika Tremaglio Shares Personal and Professional Insights

Nicole Patterson

The Center for Student Diversity hosted Mount St. Mary’s University Board of Trustees member Tamika Tremaglio, C’92, as a continuation of its guest speaker series. Students, faculty and administrators gathered in Laughlin Auditorium and on Zoom to hear Tremaglio’s personal and professional insights as a Mount graduate and as the Greater Washington managing principal at Deloitte who is responsible for overseeing more than 10,000 audit, tax, advisory and consulting professionals in the region.

tamika_headshot-in-text.jpgEarlier this year, the Center for Student Diversity celebrated Black History Month and Women’s History Month featuring a Q&A with the Mount’s Chair of the Board of Trustees Gracelyn McDermott, C’93, as well as a presentation by Shannen Dee Williams of Villanova University about her research on Black Catholic sisters for her book, Subversive Habits: Black Catholic Nuns in the Long African American Freedom Struggle.

“Tamika has focused her life’s work on the core values of kindness and inclusion. Outside of work, she has done significant fundraising work for groups including United Way, Born this Way Foundation and WNBA Players Association Foundation,” said President Timothy E. Trainor, Ph.D., at the beginning of the program. Tremaglio joined the Mount’s board of trustees in the summer of 2019. “We’re truly blessed to have her back in our community. The strength of her character, her presence and kindness are a most welcome addition to our board,” Trainor added before introducing interviewer Asia Yates, C’23. Yates, who studies criminal justice and cyber criminology, is a published author, student-athlete and ROTC member.

Yates asked about Tremaglio’s background and experiences during her time at the Mount. “My mother, who became pregnant with me her senior year of high school and then went on to college two months after I was born, was very clear that education would be the differentiator—which also meant growing up I had a lot to prove and accomplish,” she said, admitting her family was strong and demanded more. “My mother was very clear that when other people were walking, I should be running. When people were getting A’s, I should be getting A+’s. It was clear to me I was meant to exceed expectations,” she added.

Tremaglio did that at the Mount, recalling how at the Mount she focused on possibilities rather than limitations. She created the dance squad, rallied for a Business Law II course, and found support to have LSAT prep—all things she says inspired her to ask for what she wanted and think differently. Those critical thinking and negotiation skills were the foundation for her to continue her education at the University of Maryland School of Law where she earned her Juris Doctor and then pursued an MBA from the University of Baltimore.

“I decided I would be a lawyer at the age of five. Quite frankly, my father said I negotiated everything—including my allowance,” she told the audience. Combining her love of law with the entrepreneurial spirit, she began her professional career and reminded students not to burn bridges with their past or potential employers. Today, at Deloitte, she doesn’t take her platform of leading more than 10,000 people with 23 offices for granted.

In fact, she’s used it to leverage values like kindness, inclusion, empathy and community service. She continued talking about influential, pioneering mentors like Joyce Roché, former president and CEO of Girls Inc., a national nonprofit research, education and advocacy organization in New York. Roché also wrote The Empress Has No Clothes: Conquering Self-Doubt to Embrace Success, a memoir sharing her lifelong struggle with imposter syndrome—something many high-achievers have experienced.

Tremaglio spoke about a women’s event she attended with Roché—who had previously written a letter to her younger self that was published in O, The Oprah Magazine. On the back of an envelope in her hotel room, Tremaglio wrote an honest letter to her younger self. The next morning Roché asked her to read it to a room full of partners and professionals. “I didn’t intend for it to ever be read, but it’s made a huge difference,” Tremaglio recalled before sharing her letter with the audience.

Dear Tamika,
You were not a mistake and you don’t have to continue to prove that you weren’t a mistake. God doesn’t make mistakes. In fact, isn’t that what my great grandmother meant when she said to my mother at the age of 18, “One day you will be so happy that you had that baby.” So, when is that one day you continuously ask yourself as you continue to let that control you, push you and even define you?
Be brave…as you can hear the whisper, “One day this will all seem worth it. Someday, I will make you proud.” Well, strive to be amazing as you patiently wait for that day to come. I assure you, Tamika, it will come. Whether it’s the day you pass the bar exam, yes it may not be until you are 25 years old or perhaps it’s at the age of nine when you and your mother lay on the side of the road after being hit by a drunk driver, bleeding as her face is scarred from protecting you rather than herself. Perhaps in those uncertain moments she realized that I wasn’t a mistake?
Regardless, you can be certain that day will come and it won’t be for the reasons that you thought—no, it won’t be because of the letters behind your name, the amount of money that you make, the fancy shoes (seriously, not the shoes!) or any material things—it will simply be because of the impact that you made on the world, simply because you exist and live a life of gratitude and service to others. This is where you will find fulfillment—your purpose!
There are a few things that I will ask you to also remember:
  1. If you could be so “lucky,” choose a partner in every sense of the word—one that contributes equally and sees your success as their success.
  2. Create your personal brand.
  3. Do not compare yourself to others; live your own purpose.
  4. Find your true passion.
  5. Give the gift of experiences, time and presence to your children and always lead by example.
  6. Be authentic.
  7. Don’t allow your struggles to take away your joy.
  8. Have integrity in everything you do.
  9. Remember, chance favors the prepared individual.
  10. Take risks; remove fear from the equation. Don’t let the acronym stand for Forget Everything and Run, but rather Face Everything and Rise!
And finally, be authentic and/or be. Be still and know that you were not a mistake and yes that too. And today, just like every day in your life, your mother is fulfilled. Your mother is whole because of you. Your mother is happy she had you and God knows and, in face, everyone will know you are not a mistake. Just continue to be.


“I share that letter with you because, for me, it was the most freeing moment to realize you no longer have to prove who you are to anyone or be defensive or concerned someone will find or figure you out—and it takes the chip off your shoulder. When you show up, it gives other people permission to show up, too,” she said, acknowledging how it changed the way she interacted with people.

The evening concluded with conversations about her work with the Born This Way Foundation, co-founded by Lady Gaga and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, which supports the mental health of young people and works with them to create a kinder and braver world—aiming to make kindness cool, validate the emotions of young people and eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health. She also spoke about how a significant life is measured by the number of lives touched, not the amount of money earned.

Tremaglio ended by answering a student’s question about challenges students face in this current environment. “If you’re in a toxic environment that makes you feel like you’re less than, sometimes there’s nothing you can own in that. When you find yourself in situations where you’re challenged, you better know why you’re there. Remind yourself you’re capable and what you can do,” she advised.” You might fail, but the best lessons you’ll learn come from failure. Those rough spots are what make us more complete and allow us to grow.”

Yates, who is a writer and has published in English and Spanish, was inspired by Tremaglio. “When she shared her letter that she wrote to herself, it meant so much because she was vulnerable and it nearly brought me to tears,” she admitted. “Her letter inspired me to start to write my own letter to my younger self and I plan to do this every five years.”

Nicole Patterson