Alumna-Author Urges Students to Chase Dreams

Award-winning author Felicia Thomas is living life and making her own rules, while doing so.

The Florida A&M graduate is the author of a book titled “80 Proof Lives”.

The book geared toward young adults takes place in the 1970s. chronicles the life of a 15-year-old girl living in Quincy, Fla., with an alcoholic mother.

While the young girl deals with the burden of empathizing with an alcoholic parent, she begins to find opportunities and various support systems that change the way she views life and also her destiny.

Thomas, also from Quincy Fla., and from what she calls one of Florida’s “best literary kept secrets.”

Thomas knew that she wanted to be an author at 11. She attended FAMU’s School of Journalism and Graphic Communication and later on attended law school at Florida State.

While “80 Proof Lives” began as a short story, it was transformed into a book that has made Thomas the first African-American woman to win the “Florida Publishers Association Presidents Book Award” in the young adult category.

The book transcends age, race and gender and has been widely used in school systems across the country.

Using some of her life experiences, Thomas has incorporated a little bit of herself onto every page of her first of many publications to come.

“I always wanted to be an author, but always found myself looking at my obstacles instead of my opportunities. One day I just decided to take a chance,” said Thomas.

For 15 years, she practiced law and although she loved it, still found herself looking for fulfillment. A member of the Tallahassee Author’s Network, Thomas was constantly writing, keeping multiple notepads in her purse and jotting down every idea that came to mind.

Comparing herself to authors such as Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou, Thomas was afraid that her writing wouldn’t be accepted by her peers and was apprehensive about exposing her writings for others to scrutinize.

She was forced to take a risk and has written a book that has ultimately not only changed her life but the lives of others.

Thomas has now paired with Amani Publishing and educators are using “80 Proof Lives” as a teaching tool, to get students who want to be more transparent about the issues that they struggle with daily.

“I want to have 10 books written in the next five years and I want to direct a stage play,” said Thomas. I am also writing a sequel to “80 Proof Lives” and last but not least, I want the honor of being a keynote speaker at one of FAMU’s commencement ceremonies.”

Many FAMU students believe Thomas’ work should be commended.

“She is so inspiring,” said Jacara Melts, a sophomore English student. “For young girls who are wanting to follow in her footsteps, she has defiantly shined a light for us to dream big.”

“I love her work and I will continue to read her books, said David Wilkerson, a third-year criminal justice student.

“She is the true epitome of a FAMU alumna success story.”

“This book has really changed my view,” said Deena Rails, a third-year biology student.

“I feel that anything is possible, no matter what your circumstances are.”