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Overcoming Tragedy and Celebrating Life Again

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Born in Norfolk, Va., and raised by a single mother, I felt a special responsibility to go to college but, at first, I failed at it – quite literally.  But I turned my life around and see a pathway to success. Studying in London as a Frederick Douglass Global Fellow was instrumental in healing my wounds and making me whole again.   

First enrolled as a college student at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., I left school my freshman year because it wasn’t a good fit for me. A year later, I transferred near home to a historically black college, Norfolk State University, but I abruptly left during my second semester when tragedy struck in a way that I could have never imagined.

In a scuffle on campus, one of my friends, Sean Williams, was tragically stabbed to death.  Like me, Sean was a classically-trained vocalist. I was in such shock from his murder, I left school and didn’t even tell my teachers why.

I moved to Florida, where I fell in love and was blessed to have a son. I wanted to make a positive future for my son, but I really didn’t know how. I thought about it long and hard and decided I wanted to be a lawyer in arts and entertainment. I knew I needed to be in New York City. I knew I had to go back to school.

I got my transcripts. I put myself in a suit and put myself on a bus and, transcripts in hand, I went to the headquarters of City University of New York, CUNY.

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