Updated: Mar 23, 2020
"Education can be power or it can be bondage."
“Two minutes!” shouted my cheerful teacher.
The card had landed on me, meaning when the bell rang, I would win the basket of candy. I was so excited - math was one of my strongest subjects. “I got this!” I thought to myself shifting the card in my hand as she wrote the question on the board. All I had to do: answer the question and claim my prize. In what felt like slow motion, the ‘popular girl’ stood up, in front of the entire class and looked at me with her vibrant green eyes.
“If you give me the card, I will add you on Facebook and you can stop begging me.”
I had wanted her to add me on Facebook for so long to prove to everyone that she had accepted me, to prove that I was acceptable. She had been aggressively bullying me for several months but this moment became an epiphany for me. I still vividly remember that moment because it was the moment in my adolescence that I felt truly alone. She accomplished her goal of appearing superior over me. In a simple sentence, she stripped away my confidence and my hope that seemed like a distant memory to me then.
She along with a decade of carrying the blows of microaggressions, watching broken families cover themselves up with mirrors and crippling insecurity taught me to be black was similar to having a plague since I stood out being the only black girl in sea of people who had never met anyone else who looked like me either. “Worthless”, “hopeless”, “black” rang in my head as I tried and failed to take my life several times throughout middle school.
But, I had no idea. Not knowing I’d one day be the first student in my high school to go to college in California, that I’d graduate the only black female in my department's class with a STEM degree from the top public university in the world. I’d study abroad in Ireland learning physics and the art of pouring the perfect beer. I’d backpack through western Europe or travel to Nigeria and spend a month in the villages with my extended family. I'd challenge the status quo and the stability of an industry job to build this agency and provide academic support to children around the world. I didn’t know it then, but God had a different plan for me.
Rather than letting myself succumb to anger and brokenness around me, I became inflamed with a passion for people in a way I never felt before. In the words of Petrarch, “Love is the crowning grace of humanity, the holiest right of the soul, the golden link which binds us to duty and truth, the redeeming principle that chiefly reconciles the heart to life, and is prophetic of eternal good.” Through my turbulent childhood and the knowledge it gave me, I learned to love people. Now, when I walk down the street, just like everyone else, I see faces. However, I see people behind those faces. I see people who have been handed different decks of cards in this game of life we all play. Some of us are ‘lucky’ yet cursed too by loneliness or lack of fulfillment. Some of us may be less fortunate, but have been graced with love only some could dream of. The level playing field we all have is education. Learning, knowledge, wisdom, creativity - these are what truly do not see color, obstacles, or even limitations. Education is my power and through Insight and our dedicated team I hope to make it yours as well.