What hardships have you endured?
I was living a wild life. I didn’t care about the law or school. I just cared about money and elevating myself. For me, this is my second chance. A lot of people gave up on me. I’ve been homeless, a junkie. You name it, and I’ve been there. When I came to Dallas College, it was hard. I got COVID and lost my car. It was so much. I even had to check myself into a mental institution and realized I had post-traumatic stress disorder from my childhood traumas like being molested and verbally and physically abused by my mother. And having been in the streets since I was eight years old. So, when I started school, it felt like everything I worked for at that point had been lost. My world was shattering.
Kimberly Blevins in the CARES Center met me when it was extremely difficult. I didn’t even have food. She provided me with resources to help me get back on my feet and a roof over my head. And because I’m a pescatarian and can only eat fish since I had surgery on my colon when I was 19, she helped me find food for my diet and lifestyle. We also connected on a spiritual level because she is also Muslim like me.
My journey’s been a roller coaster. But it’s not where you start, it’s how you finish.
When was that moment when you felt like you needed to make a change in your life?
There wasn’t a specific moment, but I can tell you when I started having a shift in my mindset. So, I was living in the streets. There’s really not much to do. I was doing the same old thing and getting the same results, which was nothing. I was at my lowest. My family, including my mom, stopped talking to me. When I was going through being in jail and other obstacles in my life, the people who said they would be there for me weren’t there. I was depressed and suicidal. I had already tried killing myself. All the stuff I was doing in the streets with gangs, it didn’t matter. It wasn’t paying the bills or changing anything in my life. When I separated from the person who I was going to have a child with, I felt like everything I had was for nothing because that was the only person I had ever loved.
Why did you pick Dallas College?
I used to think school would do nothing for me. But at the end of the day, I realized that a paper is better than having nothing. Same thing with a trade, I could tell you over and over that I’m really good at construction. But unless you see with your eyes the things I can create or that I have a paper saying that I know about it, it’s harder for people to believe that you know what you’re doing. So, that’s been my motivation for going to school and being at Dallas College. I gave up so many times going to school because there was always some problem or obstacle in my way.
The reason why I chose the Richland Campus is because it was the closest campus to where I used to live. But now, it’s just home. I can’t leave it. The people here are so amazing. If I have to stay here an extra semester to get a certain class done at this campus, I’m going to stay here to get it done because the people here are like family to me.
I have two and a half semesters left until I graduate, and I won’t stop there.
What legacy do you want to leave?
I want to be bigger than Tupac, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. I want to be remembered for loving people and making them laugh and smile. It’s not about me anymore. When I was younger, I was very selfish. Life is more than just ourselves. It’s about love and community. It’s about sacrificing your life for someone else. When I leave this world, I want to be remembered for the love and help that I gave to others. Telling people that it’s not about where you started but how you end. At the end of my journey, I want to be able to say that I changed the world. And not with money but with my time. You can get money over and over again but the time you have in life is limited. So, you have to cherish every moment and opportunity.
If I could change the world, I would change it by making food and shelter affordable and accessible to all. I want to make a change for young adults, teens, and adolescents who feel like people gave up on them. I would also like to work with kids who feel like they don’t have anyone, foster kids, and kids raised by single parents.
What does graduating as a first-gen student mean to you?
When I graduate, I’ll probably just cry for myself because I knew what my journey looked like when I first started. With being the first in my family for many things, not just the first to go to college, I know the pressure that comes with it. I’ve been called a dummy before and so was my mom, so I understand the frustration that comes with not feeling educated. I made a promise with my mom about finishing school, and I’m big on keeping my word.
Everything that I’m doing now is to better myself. I have more direction and structure in my life.
Tell us about a time when you felt courageous at Dallas College.
During my first semester of school, I was still heavy on the streets. I always struggled with reading and writing and during that time, I was taking English 1301. I was worried about being embarrassed if they called on me to read. But my professors, Christopher and Kevin, were really cool and explained a lot to me. They took their time. They made my experience at Dallas College amazing. They are the reason why I didn’t drop out. Any time I think about dropping out or if life is too hard and school is too hard, I think about those guys and Kimberly with the student care team who has helped me.
But in my English class, I learned I was a good writer, which shocked me. That class helped make me who I am today.
What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about life. Loving, laughing, praying, making a change and giving back to those who are less fortunate. I love to cook and make people smile. I write music and poetry to express my thoughts from time to time. I’m passionate about breaking generational cycles, helping others who have been through traumatic experiences like myself and cooking for the homeless or less fortunate. I desire to evolve into the greatest me that Allah will allow me to see, while getting closer to faith and my religion, Islam. I want to make a change for young adults, teens, and adolescents who feel like people gave up on them. Kids who don’t have anyone like foster kids and kids raised by single parents. I have learned a lot through the decisions that I have made: good and bad. I feel that my life lessons will enable me to provide support to others and assist them with the foundation that they need to be their best self. I will be great and make a change.