As a former Live Your Dream Award recipient, I feel that it would be beneficial and inspiring to all women to hear my story.
During my first semester of college as a nontraditional student, I found Soroptimist’s Live Your Dream Award application. I was nervous but I did not let that stop me from applying. I am nearing graduation of my first degree and without the support of Soroptimist, I would not be the woman I am today. The award was so much more than money or recognition. It was the foundation to me becoming a mentor to other students and to empower them as I was empowered by the Live Your Dream Award.
My story begins during my early teenage years and the loss of my parents. I came from a very abusive home and became homeless at the age of fifteen. Some of the most critical years of my life were spent moving from place to place almost daily, striving to survive in an adult world that was unkind to a youth, and trying to understand how to grow up without any stability or direction. I have always referred to growing up as being raised by 1000 faces. Each person that came into my life, left me with a little portion of wisdom. I found myself pregnant at the age of 16, homeless, a high school dropout, and absolutely no support system. The child’s father was a drug addict and after careful consideration I decided to go back to my hometown to begin the rest of my life. His addiction led him to his death.
By the age of 20, I had finally become self-sufficient with my own home and two children by this time. I attempted college while working full time and failed miserably. Relationships were heartache and my only marriage ended in domestic violence. It was not until the age of 27, a failed marriage, and a third child being born that I decided to finish my education.
I had worked all those years to merely survive and never live. Graduating college seemed like a far-fetched dream and now I am living that dream.
My theory was that I have lost everything emotionally as well as physically more than once and rebuilt from the ground up. Therefore, the worst possible situation would be that I complete college or that I lose everything and rebuild once more. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” I searched for hours and found many supportive organizations, so I reached out for help.
Pride is the one piece of us that holds us back until we realize that we all need help sometimes.
I gained strength, courage, and confidence in every experience where I looked fear in the face. This confidence has given me the courage to pursue my dreams of being a mentor to others as well as a Director of Emergency Management.