At just one year old, Brianna Hooks Singletary was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect that included a missing aorta valve.
With the love and support of her family, her four open heart surgeries throughout her life, did not slow her down. Brianna was an outspoken and vivacious young girl. Despite dealing with the impact of surgeries and adjustments, Brianna remained the spunky young girl with a large personality and a curiosity for the world.
Sometimes fearful but optimistic, Brianna blossomed into a young lady aware of her need to monitor and maintain proper heart health in order to live the active life she desired.
A native of Columbia, Maryland, Brianna relocated to Winston-Salem to attend Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) majoring in Physical Education with a concentration in Teacher Education. During her matriculation at WSSU Brianna was mindful of the need to be heart smart and live a lifestyle that sometimes required her limiting the “college life” that included late nights, “junk food” and other unhealthy habits.
Brianna successfully met her goals, graduated and became a phenomenal educator. Although no longer serving the Winston-Salem Forsyth County School System, she is married and pursuing her goal of obtaining her doctorate degree.
“Despite multiple surgeries to fix my heart defect, I don’t let it hold me back in the gym or in my career,” shared Brianna.
As a former physical education major and health educator, Brianna is knowledgeable of the requirements to implement and maintain a dedicated regiment of daily exercise and healthy nutrition. Keeping a close eye on her heart health, she is even more aware of the need for healthy choices.
“We must advise anyone who attempts to go up against Brianna at the gym not to compete with her “rolling tires”- she has a mean arm and loves to get her work out on through this strenuous, but heart healthy exercise,” shared Marian Anderson Booker, one of Brianna’s Winston-Salem State University mentors. “She has will power – the will to live, the will to share her voice and the will to empower others!”
“I would tell kids living with a congenital heart defect that they are stronger than they could believe. They are fighters and this season, although it has long lasting impacts, will only be hard for a small period,” shared Brianna. “My advice to families is to continue to be strong and to be the foundation that their child needs to help them cope with living with a congenital heart defect.”
Brianna Hooks Singletary is a 2021 Forsyth County Go Red Woman. She is sharing her story to help prevent heart disease in women. Novant Health is proud to be the American Heart Association’s “Life is Why” and “Go Red for Women” sponsor in Forsyth County, celebrating, supporting and encouraging women to put their health first wherever they may be in their journey.