Gabby Dickerson may be known to her 18k Instagram followers by her handle @gabbyplainandsmall, but this remarkable young woman's aspirations are nowhere near plain or small.
Gabby is an African-American and Piscataway indigenous woman. She is a full-time graduate student and a cybersecurity engineer with a passion for rock climbing, and more.
She lives on her family’s Piscataway Indian Nation land in Southern Maryland. Gabby has always thrived in the outdoors and had a passion for advocating for others.
Activism roots run deep
“My love for the outdoors, connection to the land, and call for activism starts at the roots of my ancestors,” says Gabby. She notes her influences: a late tribal activist leader, her Jim Crow fighting grandparents, and, of course, her own parents.
When she isn’t studying or working, Gabby spends “every other waking moment” climbing, instructing climbing, or welcoming new climbers.
“My focus in rock climbing, in addition to achieving my project goals, is on the community,” she says. Gabby says she wants newcomers to have the same uplifting experiences that she did when she started getting into the sport of climbing. Following that point, she’s adamant about creating an inclusive space within the climbing gym, and elsewhere, for new climbers to feel wanted and welcomed and encouraged.
Advocating for inclusiveness
“My experience as almost always the only black woman at the crag (another word for a rock face) has pushed me to connect with Brown Girls Climb,” Gabby explains.
The organization's mission - mentorship, community, and education - meshes perfectly with Gabby's ethos and what she is aiming to accomplish. She's committed to helping educate and uplift the voices of those who are less visible in these spaces.
“I strive to work with affinity spaces, climbing and outdoor companies, and individual leaders to help increase access to climbing and the outdoors, as well as to share and elevate the voices of those in under-represented communities.”
But her advocacy doesn’t end with climbing.
Personal growth never stops
Along the way, Gabby is becoming her own best advocate. She is working on herself in every sense of the word. She explains that her late sister was a huge inspiration, and remains so to this day.
“Learning and working on being a better advocate for myself – something that I’m in no way perfect at just yet – is not only for me, but in honor of her.”
A journey to health and wellness
Gabby admits that her quest for a “better and healthier” version of herself can be challenging.
“Nutrient Foods has been integral in my journey towards eating better with a crazy schedule,” she says. Her focus has shifted and now she is “deliberately focusing on an increased intake of vitamins and nutrients, and overall just taking care of me!”
Gabby’s daily go-to is Vitamin Coffee. She makes a large tumbler full of Vitamin Coffee (two packets) before her morning commute to work. “I never thought anything could replace Dunkin’, but this has!” Gabby proudly notes.
“With my crazy schedule of balancing work, grad school, and rock climbing, I make sure to have Vitamin Coffee packets on me at all times,” Gabby says. “Being able to make it with cold water is an absolute game changer for me.”
Follow Gabby’s personal journey on Instagram: @gabbyplainandsmall