Four years ago my life changed drastically. After experiencing more than eighteen years of poverty, violence, and substance abuse from my parents, my maternal grandparents took me in and quite literally saved my life. I can still remember the day I moved all my things in; I felt an enormous weight lift off my shoulders and I knew everything would be okay.
Looking back on my life, I realize I have overcome many hardships. When I was nine I lost a very close cousin to drunk driving, which resulted in me campaigning against driving under the influence in high school and college. Because of the turbulence and instability at home, I engrossed myself in books and school, and I graduated high school with honors. After taking a year off school and moving in with my grandparents, I left to attend Tennessee State University, in Nashville, Tennessee, which was a historical African American university. However, due to financial hardships, I was unable to attend class but was given the opportunity to work as a Resident Assistant in order to increase diversity on the campus. I left for Eastern Illinois University the following semester.
My time in Nashville helped me grow spiritually and mentally. I went there without knowing a soul, adapted quickly, and made friends I’ll never forget. It opened my eyes to a new culture I hadn’t had the chance to experience often.
My financial burdens didn’t improve and I accepted an on-campus job as a Night Assistant working the overnight shift nearly every night for two years. During this time, I was also working a part-time day job at the police department, taking 16-18 credits each semester, and was able to maintain a 3.0 GPA. Over the summer, I worked full-time and took additional classes so that I wouldn’t be too far behind. Finally, halfway through my junior year, I quit my jobs and put all my focus on school.
During the summer of 2007 I jumped at the chance to go on the trip of a lifetime. I went to Europe for a Multi-Cultural Human Behavior course with a group of students and two Psychology department faculty members. I traveled to six countries, experienced many different cultures, including those of my own heritage, and interacted with the locals in Maastricht, Holland. I funded this trip entirely on my own and formed close relationships with both of my professors. Like my Nashville experience, this trip opened my eyes to issues and societies around the world. I have become much more aware of everything around me.
Now, as a senior, I am working a part-time job so that I can concentrate on my studies. I am on the Dean’s List with a 4.0 GPA and I’m excited to see where I end up this summer. I'm graduating with my BA after only three and a half years. I have overcome so much, and I’m proud to be a positive role model for my younger siblings and cousins as the first person to get a college degree and then attend graduate school. I am very passionate about helping others with their own personal hardships, and psychology has always been something I'm eager to learn more about.
Thanks in advance!