I must admit that I have found myself at a lost of words when I read about the amazing things accomplished by our youth today. Some of my deepest thoughts often leads me to wonder if I had the support of my parents and the same platform I provide for my own daughter, what accolades would I have to share from my past today. I remember being that kid in class that sat there bored and unchallenged– I did not know how to speak up and ask for more and to be quite frank, at home, there was no one guiding me or setting expectations. I would lose my focus in class and begin to interrupt class with my girl chatter. When my 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Wiggins said, “your mouth” will ultimately ruin my future, I sat up and expressed my disinterest in her and her class. Well, I actually enjoyed Ms. Wiggins class, but I was my own boss! I wish I could see Ms. Wiggins today and thank her for recognizing my potential and caring enough to try to guide a little lost girl.
Thessalonika Arzu-Embry is a 14-year old girl earning her undergrad degree from Chicago State University this year. Thessalonika’s story is one of the most recent stories that inspired me to write this post. Her mother, Wonder said, “The parents are the most influential force in their own children’s lives, and they have the power to influence them to do good and to go forward.” This statement reminded me why I constantly explain to my peers, that I am only providing a platform for my daughter to take advantage of opportunities and that she is empowered to choose her own path. My journey with Nadia is exciting because she has her own expectations, which are typically higher than mine and further challenges me to become a better parent each day. Nadia came home in 6th grade with a catalog from The Taft School, and explained to me that she desired to attend this boarding school in Connecticut. Although I was in shock and could not agree to this notion of boarding school for high school, I allowed my daughter to dream and explore her opportunities. Honestly, I was not planning to entertain the idea and figured she would move on.
Nadia’s desires to attend boarding school became more prevalent in 7th grade, so as a good parent should do, I stepped out of her way and joined her band wagon. I am thankful that my daughter has the determination to pursue her goals and resiliency to overcome the challenges that may place hurdles in the road to success. Nadia is in her sophomore year at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Connecticut. She is not only excelling academically– Nadia is committed to community service, learning Mandarin Chinese, serves as a leader in various school clubs, and Co-captain of the Junior Varsity Volleyball team. Miss Porters provides a wonderful environment for girls and is a second home for my daughter. I provide the platform for Nadia to jump as high as she can! I am thankful to be that force of strength for my daughter.
Nadia and Thessalonika’s accomplishments are just two of thousands of success stories from youth and girls around the globe. I am thankful for my past, lack of guidance and all, because my past has become my platform to jump higher as an adult. It is my childhood experiences that give me the passion to work with youth and make a difference. It is my vision for the GirlGeeks program to be a platform for girls around the world, one community at a time, even if this means one girl at a time. As my dear sister-friend, Dr. Bettina Love stated, “stay in your lane” and do what you can to help our world be a better place.
Natina Marie Adams