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I grew up in a tiny city Lynchburg, Virginia and with that, I knew nothing but love until July 4, 2009. My stepfather who was the only man I had ever known as a father was arrested in front of my three little sisters and me. I wasn’t born into a home where I wasn’t loved and provided for but everything that I knew to be love was snatched from me at that very moment. I am the eldest daughter of four. I have one mother who struggled her whole life to ensure that every adversity we faced I would overcome to be the woman I am today. Due to her love and strength, I have been blessed to have graduated from Spelman College, Magna Cum Laude.
After my stepfather was arrested I was questioned in the kitchen of our home about a book bag, a bag I had seen my dad carry in and out of the house. I never knew what the bag was or what was in the bag and I never knew that drugs were the reason we were all comfortable. The reason I got puppies for Christmas and my mom got cars for her anniversary. I never knew that drugs were the reason our lights were on. I do know that drugs aren’t the reason my family is broken it is a system that is built to break Black families and my family was unfortunately subjected to a system I hope to one day improve.
A while after his arrest my mom decided to move my three younger sisters and me to Atlanta, Ga. This is where I learned many things; pain, resilience, and true love, this is where I learned Christ. I was nine when landed and I wasn’t too excited. I was scared, I felt alone like any child would and I was right to feel that way. Months after our big move my mom got into a car accident and we lost our car, my mom, the strongest woman I know fell into a depression. A depression, so deep that I watched her attempt suicide because she had no more fight in her. For months after that, I cried every day but I worked so hard to fight for her, for my sisters, and myself and we recovered. We moved into a new home and my mom brought a new car all by herself, she stood up when the world continuously kicked her down. It wasn’t easy for my mom to find a job as a convicted felon so losing a very good one was detrimental to our family and that is just another reason I believe our system is so broken. Not because I have watched it happen to other people but because I experienced it and I felt the impact of loss and pain.
Since my mother could not find a job that could provide for our family of five we experienced homelessness several times throughout my matriculation of high school. This is where I learned to love, I would not be writing this letter without knowing love. Several women reminded me that I am worthy and intelligent, and I should indeed take up space wherever I desire because my circumstances do not define me. These women reminded me of that every single day of my matriculation at Spelman College. A school where I was taught to question what I learn, to explore the world, to work at understanding others, and to be an advocate for a sustainable world.
While at Spelman I took all of the hardships life had handed me at a very young age and used them as fuel to pursue my degree. I worked hard to show my little sisters that you can be more, you can be your wildest dreams. Not only did I work to show my sisters but to show all young girls. This is why while at Spelman I mentored at Barak and Michelle Obama Academy, in hopes to encourage young Black girls to pursue their dream despite their circumstances. I also worked with Spelman College’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, seeking to eliminate racial inequality in all disciplines of life: social, economical, and political. As a sophomore, I conducted research exploring the disproportionate rate of maternal mortality between White and Black women and how medical research affected maternal outcomes. I continued that research as an advocate for Georgia Women’s Policy Institute, working as a Communications lead fighting for mothers to have proper access to healthcare after childbirth. My work is what reminds me that we as a people have broken in so many ways and I know that I can’t fix every hole but I am confident that I can fix some of them.
If there is any lesson I have learned from my not very long-lived life it is to speak when you see there needs to be a change, to love others like they are your own, to always get up after you fall, and to change the world at all costs so that my little sisters do not have to. I have seen the system rip my dad from my arms, I have seen it drive the strongest woman I know crazy, and I have seen it hurt those I love the most. Someone once told me if I wanted it done right to stop telling people at the table and instead put myself there. After, a very long fight with myself I am ready for my seat at the table. I am ready to be the change that the world has molded me to be, I am ready to be a trailblazer in my community and to show the legal world that Black women can. I am ready to be a difference in the courtroom because I have seen what a trailblazing lawyer can do and I am ready to be that woman for those who have experienced our unjust system.