Mother: My mother influenced my life because she was my first teacher. My mother is a verrrrrry independent woman. Although she had 17 other siblings as a child, and later married my father (still married) she always taught me to try things on my own and not to wait for a man nor anyone else in this life to “give” me something, she taught me how to problem solve and to try and figure out how to get myself out of jams. I am happy and blessed to have a strong mother because it is her strength that she instilled in me that has carried me through difficult situations and to develop a thicker skin. As a teenager, I did not walk with my graduating class, but she still gave me a dozen red roses, so I made sure my mother would see me walk as an undergrad graduate which she did and just recently I am happy to say she witnessed me walk as a graduate student. I am happy that my mom allows me to make my own mistakes, and encourages me not to wait for any person to “give me” my hearts desires but instead, I need to make my desires/dreams a reality for myself.
Father: Well there is sooo much I can say about my dad; he is proud of anything I do and has always supported me and my other siblings and my son in all of our endeavors. At 37, I am proud to say that I am still a daddy’s girl! As a child, my father would always say “Go to school and get yourself a good education”, but I didn’t value that statement until I became an adult. However, growing up as a child, my father was supportive of anything I did whether it was taking piano lessons for two weeks or my saying I wanted to be a chef, he was right there in the kitchen with me telling me to wear my goggles while I cooked so the cooking oil wouldn’t splash into my eyes. One of my fondest memories was being a little girl and driving up to my third floor home in Northern NJ, and as soon as I saw my house I would pretend I was sleeping because I did not want to walk up the stairs; instead of my father waking me up, he would carry me up all of those stairs and as soon I we got to the front door, I would jump out of my dads arms and run and play. I know he knew what I was doing but he never said “wake up”, and my father still in many respects carries me by providing me with continued spiritual, personal, and professional advice. My father never tells me NO, he has spoiled all of his children and grands and I know that if I were to call and ask my dad for his left arm today, he would give it to me; it is that support that has made me the woman I am today.
Cousin Cedenia- My cousin Cedenia is more like a big sister to me and that is because our mothers (which are sisters) were very close and in turn we were pretty much raised together. My cousin has always been in support of me even when I went against things my family believed in, she was always there to offer me an out. In addition, I always thought Cedenia was “cool” so I wanted to do everything she did. As an adult, I am proud to say that I continue to mirror her footsteps. For example, Cedenia went to and graduated from undergrad and became a teacher, and I did the same; she even went to graduate school and later became a counselor, so I went to graduate school and finished and I am now working on my second master’s degree. My cousin has always listened to my concerns and never agreed with me because I am her cousin but instead she would tell me when I was wrong and or right about a situation. I remember going to my senior prom and my cousin came to see me off at my “show off” and she just looked at me like a proud sister and she told me she was proud of me and to have fun.
Great Grandmother Sally- My great grandmother was not your typical great grandmother; she was spunky and didn’t bite her tongue. I remember learning how to use the telephone as a child and one of the first phone numbers I memorized was my grandmothers. I would call her and tell her every little thing that went on in my house. My grandmother was more than a grandmother; she was more of a best friend. My grandmother always told me as long as I make safe and good decisions, I should enjoy life and try new things and if people who portray to be my friend, will always have my best interest at heart and that in life, and relationships that I have with people may change as I change and grow, but she wanted me to always be true to myself and treat others the way I want to be treated. For all of those who are blessed to still have their grandmother, my advice would be to cherish them and sit down and listen to all of their stories, and get all of their recipes because tomorrow isn’t promised.
Mrs. George/1st Grade Teacher- My 1st grade teacher Mrs. George impacted my life in a great way. For instance, she always pushed me to do my best and worked towards strengthening various skills and talents I had at an early age. I remember Mrs. George came to my senior prom “show off” and she actually remembered me and I cried, she told a friend that was with her that I was one of her babies and that she was proud to see me at my senior prom. As an adult, Mrs. George was one of five teachers of color that I had in my entire elementary and high school career. As a result, she taught me that woman of color can have jobs other than your stereotypical job and she made me proud to be a child and now woman of color so I can hopefully encourage other little girls of color to pursue their dreams and the sky is the limit as long as you believe in yourself.