I GREW UP in North Tulsa, Oklahoma in a single father household with six siblings. Where I’m from, a lot of people don’t make it anywhere in life. There is a lot of poverty and generational curses. There are many large families who struggle and can’t make ends meet. Growing up, it was hard to know that you could be someone.
I’m showing all of my family the difference. I’m showing my community the difference. I will do whatever it takes to make a change and be that change for others.”
I always told myself, I want to do something different. I want to be somebody. My first exposure to success was as a sophomore in high school when I got into Harvard University’s Summer School Program. It was life-changing. They gave me a partial scholarship, but I still didn’t have the money to go, so my community did a GoFundMe.
That opportunity made me want to experience more. After that, I worked hard in high school to keep my grades up. I was accepted to University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff on a full ride academic scholarship. My major is international business.
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College is a big step for me, because in my family, there are no college students. My parents didn’t graduate high school. Oklahoma is one of the top five states for teen pregnancy and the top 10 for incarcerated women. My grandma had my dad when she was 14. I had two sisters who were pregnant at 14 years old, one of them with twins.
But your circumstances do not define you. Where you come from is not where you’re going. I always remind myself that everyone goes through stuff. It’s life. Resilience is important. You have to come back and push through and know that things will get better.
I’m showing all of my family the difference. I’m showing my community the difference. I will do whatever it takes to make a change and be that change for others. One of my main priorities is mentoring younger girls from my community. I help them with college stuff, scholarships, and mental health. I had a mentor who was important for me growing up, so I want to be that for them.
I have a heart for giving. Even in the midst of me going through my own struggles, I volunteered at community centers and gave back. My ultimate goal is to become an entrepreneur. I plan to build a community outreach center for at-risk youth. It would be a safe place where children can come and get anything they need.
I’m still helping out with a big role in Soaring Eagles Youth of Family Services, which is a nonprofit organization that my mentor started 10 years ago. We just had our summit for teen girls where I had a chance to share my story. I told them, five years ago I was in the same exact seat you are in now. I was just like you. You can make it. Stay focused. It’s possible.
It was an honor to be able to be that guidance and inspiration. It was a great feeling. I could have done it all day.