Updated: Jul 20
Meet Stephanie from The Bronx, New York
Growing up, I was very strong academically. I always got good grades, I always understood the material, I never needed to ask questions. I went to Hyde Leadership Charter School. This is where I learned to be a leader as well as a person dedicated to her community. I also took part in an internship called ACTION (Activist Coming to Inform Our Community) at the Point CDC. I was a community and an environmental activist bringing awareness to food injustices and steps the community had to take. In school, I was considered the smart, quiet girl, the math whiz, etc.
People saw me that way and so I was that person, I didn’t allow myself to be any different than what people saw me. In a sense, I had two lives in high school. I was very quiet in the classroom, but I did a lot of public speaking and conferences outside. With that being said, I wish I had more support socially. Although I had an image in school, that didn’t mean that was who I am.
Once I graduated high school and came to college I started to branch out and got to know myself better. In this process, I learned that I’m not as quiet as people peg me to be, I am a proud, confident and amazing person. Yes, I am smart but learning happens every day. I came to know people who were different from me -- different in every way. I learned who they are to me and who I am to them. I am still a community activist. In college, I took part in NYPIRG (New York public interest Research Group) where I was the leader of the MTA straphangers’ campaign. I brought awareness to how students are affected by metro-card prices even sacrificing food for a monthly metro-card. It’s amazing how a change in environment and mindset can really impact your world.
I wish I had more social support because maybe I would’ve found myself sooner and impacted
more lives. This is a message I want to share with the world. Finding yourself is a beautiful thing. It's a journey you take, a journey that happens at your own pace. Five minutes each day, reflecting on who you are is really life changing. When discovering myself, I found I am a strong, beautiful and independent woman. I know where my limits are and I know how to confidently yet kindly express those limits to others.
To the person reading this, you are an amazing person who is going to shine a bright light in this world. You are going to take people's breath away. You are going to leave people in awe. Growing up is not a straight road. I wish I knew that sooner. If I did continue believing who everyone else thought I was everything would just be OK. But now that I have changed and transformed, things are not just OK. Things are amazing and great. Don’t sell yourself short and don’t allow other people's opinions or views define your character.