When Cena was 2 years old, her father moved her and her mother from Alabama to California where Cena was able to grow up happily – with a diverse group of friends – in what she calls, “the melting pot that was Los Angeles.” Her parents taught her that we are all different and each born with a unique blessing to give to the world.
Cena’s father, Odis, grew-up in Jackson, Alabama – he was the great grandson of slaves. As a “fair-skinned” young black man, he was deeply affected by the injustices within our nation. Even within his own family and the African-American community at large, he witnessed the preferential treatment he received by being seen as “fair-skinned,” and he was angered by the racism that soured the nation. His brothers and sisters, who were much darker in color than he, were forbidden from entering certain stores and eating at certain restaurants. He was so outraged by this that he became a Freedom Fighter and participated in the Selma March of 1965.
Cena’s upbringing led her to raise her 19 year old son, Morian Jr., with the same message.
“If we all just shared our talents, what a great place it would be”
Morian, a football player for Utah State, is her pride and joy. However, she worries for his safety at all times due to his rare health condition – Exercise Anaphylaxis. He had his first attack at the age of 8, and by the time he was 15, the attacks – which come on suddenly and unexpectedly and render him unable to breathe- were happening frequently.
Cena worked in the Silicon Valley for 25 years in an extremely, high-stress environment for companies like Hewlett Packard and Cisco. But the day that Morian had an attack, and couldn’t reach her because she was in a meeting, was the day she walked away from Corporate America to dedicate herself entirely to her family. And she never looked back.
Recently, Cena has suffered some health issues of her own and appreciates that, “every day is a special gift.” She is on a new journey now and wants to,“help where she can, give where she can, and be influential where she can.” She especially loves mentoring kids and consulting at her sister’s church.
And, she also wants to PLAY! Don’t get her started on her love of make-up, hair and clothes! She says styling is like “magic,” and putting the right shoe with the outfit is “the icing on the cake!” She has a passion for fashion and loves Laurie’s clothes, her spirit and her desire to put her customers first.
Cena admires Laurie’s innovative “technology behind her fabrics.” “Her jeans are so soft it’s like wearing sweatpants,” she says and, “the fabrics of her tops are so airy that they just disappear on the body” – which is so important because Cena’s skin and surgery scar are so easily irritated.
Cena truly embodies the definition of Heartfelt Role Model. Thank you, Cena, for being you!