Matters Of The Heart
My parents divorced when I was a child. Neither of my parents attended college, consequently, my home in a housing authority apartment, included three siblings and was headed by a single-mother faced with the realities of poverty.
I endured homelessness, hunger and molestation. I witnessed hate crimes, violence, and community neglect. But my mother provided and still provides “faithfulness and excellence in the small things, love, respect, and dignity for family and neighbors, and compassionate service.” This to me, defines, a Model of Victory.
Despite the odds, I persevered through obstacles and did not succumb to the threat of the lethal force of a degrading and impoverished environment. Hope of a better life nurtured a focused motivation to rise above the poverty of my mind and my wallet. It was not easy nor was it a Cinderella story; I was a black woman, an unwed single mother of two children with different fathers who lived in public housing and in poverty, just like the situation in which I was raised.
It seemed as though I would fall into the legacy that poverty and society binds to poor, colored people. Living the “American” dream has not been easy for me to reach; nevertheless, I always believed victory was mine.
I believed I could achieve my American dream through the path of education and service, therefore, I chose a vocation in Nonprofit and Human and Community Services. It is a career that provides the culture to serve as well as being a discipline that values positive changes within people and the community. It affords me the opportunity to change my life in a purposeful manner and produce better choices for me and my children. Today, I still hold on to the dream, and parts of my dream have come true.
Commonly, first generational college students do not have the cultural, human and cash capital to attain quality higher education. Additionally, to successfully address and provide the needs of a person or a community, one must be an innovator and life-long learner. This is where my journey continues.
Within 11 years, after being laid off from two jobs, I felt it was time for a change. Although, this time, the change would be one I had control over; a positive, calculated, and empowering change. I decided, by the time my children go to college, I will ensure they are not living in public housing and in poverty. So, in 2003, I moved to Charlotte, NC and enrolled in Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) to pursue my dream.
At CPCC, I tutored first-generation college students in developmental Reading and Writing and facilitated study skills classes. I also served as President of the Human Services Club where I stressed the importance of being a life-long learner and an agent of change within the community. In 2005, I completed an A.A.S with a 3.95 GPA and as the Human Services Student of the Year. Nevertheless, the journey continues.
My dream included attaining a B.A. at a prominent private college, with honors, serving my fellow students and attending the conferences, just as I did at CPCC. Obtaining funding to continue my education was vital. I discovered taking the initiative, motivating and advocating for myself and others, and researching were my strengths, and so, through the generosity of others, I was awarded several scholarships. I attended Queens University of Charlotte, a private college, the tuition each year was more than my annual income!
Many dream killers told me that I could not afford to continue through college. They said it was a luxury and too much of a sacrifice, but, I believed that I could not afford not to. My children were witnessing their mother pursuing her dreams, persevering and hurdling over obstacles to fulfill a mission of service.
In December 2007, I completed a B.A. and graduated magna cum laude. At that moment, I had become a servant leader, yet my dream was unfulfilled. Norcross Graduate School at High Point University was the next stop on my journey. My intent was to learn the best practices to proficiently execute my career goals and serving in excellent manner was the end goal. Unemployed, I completed a M.A. in 2011, and more importantly, my oldest child was accepted into college at my alma mater; thus, dream fulfilled.
I can continue to give examples of miracles after miracles and the wonderful things currently happening in my life; however, I think one can read this and get the point. But just in case you don’t, I will end this testimony with the “model of victory” I created for my family, the way my mother, the dream midwife, created for her family:
Supporting, encouraging, and empowering others will enrich your life,
Perseverance and positive attitude leads to victory,
Unconditional love motivates others to change for the better,
Education is a trustworthy liberator,
Each person should live a life of dignity and autonomy,
God is in control of all things, and
Laughter is contagious.