"Sometimes I wonder how and why I got where I am today, but I guess that God has a bigger purpose for me. I moved around a lot as a kid and came back to D.C. three years ago. When I was younger, I was placed in foster care with my brother. But my mother fought and got us back. She then sent my brother off to South Carolina, where my parents are from, so he could have a better life.
"Since then, life has been tough and we kept moving a lot. I mean, I was in four different high schools my freshman year. My Mom and I were also homeless for six months. She tried to keep me away from as much of it as she could, but I still knew what was going on. Nobody would help us and we lived in a women's shelter near Judiciary Square. I live with my Dad now because my Mom and I don't get along. We have two different personalities. I love her, but I can't live with her. I look at those experiences with my Mom and don't want that for myself. That gave me the motivation to get out of the environment I was in and make a better life for myself.
"Now, I am 19 and a senior at Anacostia High School. I graduate next Friday and will be going to Kentucky State in the fall on a scholarship. I still haven't seen the school, but I have friends on campus who say it is a nice place. I want to study to be a neuroscientist, like Dr. Ben Carlson. I read one his books in the sixth grade and it touched me. My mentor at the time told me to read it because I didn't have any direction and she thought it would help me. I have wanted to be a neuroscientist ever since then. I have done a number of science programs at places like the University of Maryland and George Washington to help prepare me to be a neuroscientist.
"In the future, I feel like I don't have any choice but to come back and help my community. I really think that I can reach people with my story. Not all of my friends are graduating from high school. Some have given up and probably don't feel like they have a future. But I know plenty of people who came from the negative, like me, and are turning it into a positive. I would tell people who are thinking about dropping out of school to keep the fight going. If you give up now, you are basically giving up on life. I know it's hard, but it wasn't meant to be easy. If you really want it, you have to fight for it."