March 21, 2014, my dad went to court. As my family and I got to the 7th floor just before my parents entered the courtroom my dad turned and told my siblings and me, “No matter what happens, I will always love y’all.” Then, my parents entered the courtroom while my siblings, and I stood out in the hallway waiting.
When my mom came out, my dad was not with her. She was crying in pain as if someone had died; resigned tears of knowing the person is still here, but you can’t feel, talk to or see whenever you want.
She said the words: “Daddy is not coming with us.”
My 11-year-old heart broke into a million pieces. My head felt light, and my tears uncontrollably fell from my eyes. I couldn’t speak. My relationship with my dad has always been strong. I was taught nothing is wrong with crying. Cry when you need to, and in times like this, don’t be sad; be ready to work to fix your situation. This is what motivates me.
Through middle school, I could see the sleepless nights on my mom’s face. I witnessed her worry about getting laid off from her job and having bills to pay by herself. The biggest thing that worried her was giving us the family life we had before my dad went away. At a young age, I helped my mom by cooking dinner and helping my younger siblings with homework, so my mom didn’t have to feel overwhelmed.
While helping my mom and seeing my dad lose his chance to fight for his freedom, I began to find myself. I learned what I want to do. Since a young girl I had an interest in law, but it has now become my passion. Seeing my mother everyday get up to work and speaking to my dad about all the legal research he’s done to get home helped me realize that nothing is given to me and if I want it, I have to go get it. I then learned success comes with hard work, and I was prepared to work for it.
I started working, but my jobs weren’t typical 14-year-old jobs. I worked to find internships at corporate jobs like General Mills and The Jay and Rose foundation where I confidently networked with lawyers and business professionals. Working allowed me to understand the value of investing time and bettering myself. Wanting to be a criminal defense attorney to protect people like my father, these jobs brought me a step closer.
In the choice of my high school, I decided to go somewhere small with less distractions and a place where the expectations were always high. I set a goal of what my GPA needs to be. I limited myself from being outside. It was hard.
I wanted to hang out with friends, which was much more fun than doing homework; but I knew that if I didn’t work hard now, it wouldn’t pay off in the future.
I started using time management. I faithfully began to live by the creed that every second is crucial, so I have to use it to the best of my ability. I continued to educate myself on everything. I asked questions about what things that interested me and looked into why I enjoyed it so much. I surrounded myself around people with some of the same, but mostly people with different interests. I found out a lot more information that I didn’t know, and this expanded my way of thinking.
As I grew older I became resilient. I taught myself to always be focus, work hard and stay ready in everything I do, and because of that what I want, will be mine. I encountered the values of hard work. My life has never been easy, but I picked myself up and still continue to move forward with self–discipline.