Who are the Men of South Fulton? Throughout this issue and included in this feature, you will find the men that make this community great. These guys live in the South Fulton area and/or work here in this area. Tenisha Bell caught up with some of the men, doctors, entrepreneurs, politicians, educators and health gurus. Their stories are fascinating.
If you are looking for someone dedicated to the South Fulton community, look no further. Thomas Calloway was born in East Point and now serves as an East Point City Councilman. Calloway started his civic career as a neighborhood representative five years ago. “I was never involved in politics,” he laughs. “I had success rebuilding our neighborhood, so when a seat opened on city council, I ran.” Calloway campaigned against four candidates and won with 52% of the vote in November.
Calloway is extremely excited about the work ahead of him for the next four years. “We are coming along in East Point. We are re-developing our downtown and making it walkable and bike-able. I want East Point to be the first choice destination for people to live” says the 38-year-old. Calloway is particularly passionate about the East Point Farmers Market which occurs every Wednesday 4pm– 7pm.
Calloway divides his time as the CEO of Atlanta Custom Tile and Construction. He started the construction company seven years ago after spending years as an equity trader. Calloway studied chemical engineering at Georgia Tech, but his first love is in the financial world. He met his true love, Kim, 12 years ago and they’ve been married six years. Calloway enjoys the outdoors. He has hiked over 700 miles in the last three years including parts of the Grand Canyon, numerous trails in north Georgia, and all of the Appalachian Trail.
Doctors said he would never walk again. Atlanta’s finest physicians couldn’t help Zedrick Carter. In 2003 the then healthy, athletic, fit, 25-year-old suddenly collapsed. He became paralyzed from the neck down. “Emory doctors couldn’t understand what was going on,” recalls the 42-year-old. He was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis, a neurological condition in which the spinal cord is inflamed causing damage to nerve fibers.
“After six months, I was transferred to the Shepherd Center to learn to adapt to a wheelchair,” he says. “I had always been active so I couldn’t see what I had done in my life to end up in that position.” For years, Carter faithfully attended rehabilitation everyday. His determination and courage kept him fighting. “I just couldn’t grasp the idea that I would be this way forever. I stayed in rehab everyday.” Then miraculously after the fourth year, Carter began to feel something in his legs. By year five, Carter finally built up enough strength to advance to using a walker. Then eventually he graduated to using a cane. Today the Atlanta native is a Certified Master Fitness & Sports Performance Trainer at Precision Athletic Corps. His unexplainable recovery has mystified even the most intellectual physicians. He’s defied all odds against him. “I am stronger today and in better shape than I’ve ever been,” he beams with pride. “I am running in 5Ks and 10Ks with great timing. I’ve come a long way.”
Carter, a graduate of Mays High School, is married to Tanetta Carter. The lovely couple have a ten-year-old daughter and a seven-year-old son. Serving the community is extremely important to the Carters. They work closely with the Fulton County Parks and Recreation Department (Welcome All, Burdette, Sandtown, Cliftondale, and Creel Parks). They provide the youth of South Fulton the opportunity to experience their Athletic Performing Arts training program which gives students opportunities to receive scholarships in traditional and alternative sports. “We teach golf, twirling, and baton. Well, I don’t twirl, but my wife does,” he laughs. “We just try to provide alternative opportunities to kids who may not have them.” Carter draws on his source from God for motivation and strength. “I just look at each day as an opportunity for me to be better than yesterday.”
Dr. Rohit Sharma is dedicated to the Southwest community. The Optometrist owns Southern Eye Specialists, PC on Campbellton Road. The practice has been serving the South Fulton community for almost 60 years. Dr. Sharma purchased the facility in 2008. “I’ve always worked in African-American neighborhoods,” says the native Kenyan. Although born in Africa, Dr. Sharma is of Indian descent. “The black community is underserved. It is our responsibility as leaders and educators and as physicians that we serve areas that need our education.”
Dr. Sharma migrated to the United States in 1985 when the U.S. offered a lottery for a green card and his family was selected. His parents settled their family in San Diego. He received his bachelor’s degree from Berkley and went on to attend the New England College of Optometry. It wasn’t until 2004 that Dr. Sharma moved to Atlanta. “My brother is an eye surgeon in Atlanta. We went to the same schools. Where he went, I went. So he called me to come down. He said the people are wonderful in Atlanta and you can’t beat the weather, so I said OK.”
Since the move, Dr. Sharma has been fully engaged with treating the underserved African American community. “One in 10 African Americans are impacted by glaucoma,” says the 42-year-old. Many people don’t know they have it, it’s a silent killer of the eye. The elderly are most effected and they don’t have accessibility for treatment.” Dr. Sharma believe that the older generation needs better representation. “My patients are like my mom and dad, and I treat them all that way. I always gain the most satisfaction when I am making an impact on people’s lives.”
Dr. Sharma is married to Seema Sharma. The couple has two daughters, six and seven. He makes the long commute each day from his Marietta home to his South Fulton office. “This is a great neighborhood. But the community and the government has to rise to the occasion and recognize the importance of southwest. I go to the senior citizen communities in Riverdale, East Point, and College Park stressing the importance of taking care of their health. I often ask myself, if I weren’t here, where would they go? And I don’t have an answer.”
Josh Lee is passionate about teaching. The Decatur native is the Digital Station Manager for Fulton County Schools Television. He oversees video production throughout the entire district. But his excitement lies in teaching students about media, media production and film. “My background is in videography. I worked at CNBC and CNN. Then I moved to Washington, DC to start my own video production company but my passion really is in teaching,” he admits.
When Lee returned to Atlanta he was offered another job at CNN. Coincidently, at the same time, he was also offered a teaching job at Northview High School. He accepted the teaching position and found his calling. “After my first summer, my students entered the Atlanta 48-hour film festival,” he recalls. “I watched the students put everything into practice, everything they had learned in my class. As I was sitting back and watching them, that was an ‘a-ha’ moment for me.” In 2014-2015, Lee won Teacher of the Year at his school.
Although Lee no longer works in the classroom everyday, his role as station manager for Fulton County School keeps him in close contact with students. Lee created an internship program that provides professional experience and exposure to students in South Fulton interested in pursuing a career in video/film. This unique program is a paid internship, and students can earn high school credit. “I look for students with passion for the subject. I like kids who are motivated to learn and want to grow. Lee currently has 13 students in the program. The students represent a variety of schools. “I like it because it provides opportunity. The students at Westlake get to work with students in Alpharetta, and vice versa. It gives them all different perspectives that help them learn and grow from students with different backgrounds,” says the 30-year-old.
Lee would like to expand this program. He is currently working to partner with 404 Studios to provide internships for students in film.
“It’s all about the students,” says the Georgia State Graduate. The impact you can have on a student just by simply showing them that you are interested is just awesome.”
Kamar Zachery is the businessman of South Fulton. When he is not crisscrossing the country he’s making moves to secure his next big business adventure. Born in Newnan, Georgia, Zachery is a private distributor for “Thrive”, a company that promotes health and wellness supplements. “I wanted to help people. Most people no matter how healthy they eat aren’t getting the proper nutrition because our food is just not what it used to be.”
The Columbus State University graduate majored in marketing and has an affinity towards the business industry. “I’m a serial entrepreneur. I’ve owned a lot of different businesses. I had a daycare, a real estate investment company and none of them had anything in common. I just wanted to always control my own destiny and not work for anybody,” says the 34-year-old.
“Formal education will make you a living, self education will make you a fortune.” Zachery admits to not being an “A” or “B” student but it was his gift with people that helped him succeed. “I did enough just to get by but I was always good with people. So when it came time for me to get jobs it wasn’t hard because I had good relationships.”
Zachery has lived in South Fulton for the past ten years. He is active with his fraternity, Omega Psi Phi Incorporated. He enjoys mentoring young students and teaching them about entrepreneurship. “Entrepreneurs built this country. We create opportunity for other people and that’s what I want to do.”