When I decided to apply to my #PhD program, the end goal was ALWAYS academia
or so I thought.
Go to school, earn the PhD, enter into the field and #endarken the ivory tower. It all seemed so simple… until last Thursday.
I spent four precious days with some brilliant, amazing, loving, determined high school students and my heart is about to explode!
I have never, ever, ever, been so fulfilled, emotional, enlightened, or encouraged as I was with #PeerForward.
#PeerForward is a summer workshop series that allows rising high school seniors from low-income backgrounds the opportunity to experience college life for 4 days. They live in college dorms, eat in dining halls, and get to experience early morning sessions after staying up well past midnight. #CollegeSummit
I volunteered as a writing coach for my first workshop, and I have never been more grateful. I was able to work with my #PeerLeaders to discover who they truly are… in writing form.
As a writing coach, I helped each student begin to craft their personal statements for their college applications. To see my students’ growth over the course of the few days that I spent with them was indescribable.
They laughed with me, cried with me, told me their future dreams and shared stories of absent parents (a story that I have in common with many of them and I shared a few weeks ago, here- My Daddy’s Issues).
My students ranged from being at the top 5 percent of their class, to being self-taught piano players, to being servant leaders within their religious communities, and they were just overall awesome kids.
I left the workshop with a my heart overflowing. On my 12 hour road trip back to Georgia, I heard God say, “are you ready to be obedient, yet?”
And all I could do…was cry.
I cried because I only had 4 days with students who I will never forget. I cried because I was able to hold on to them after they cried their hearts out during our final send off. I cried because they were actually holding me up. I cried because I needed them so much more than they needed me.
I cried because I have been running from the purpose that God designed me for. I cried because I knew, without a doubt, that I couldn’t run anymore. I cried because…I was finally ready to surrender.
I know that my pursuit of this degree is NOT just about me. Or my family. It’s about the students that I met a few days ago who never had a Black woman standing in front of the classroom. It’s about the Black boys that never get to break down because it’s not “cool” to cry. It’s about the #brilliantbrowngirls who don’t get to explore their true passions because they’re carrying their entire communities on their shoulders.
I can’t run anymore. Academia may pay my bills (initially), but it won’t edify me in the same way.
Realizing that I was hiding in pursuit of academia (solely) was a sobering and humbling experience for me. It is what is expected of me, but it doesn’t have to be my limit. And it won’t be.
Because the truth is, I won’t work in academia for free.
But I would work with those students, every day for the rest of my life, for no money at all.
That is how I know where my passion lies. It only took 4 days to bring what I have known for years to the surface.
Thanks to this experience, I have discovered my true dreams and passions, and I am learning to be comfortable with them not being what I once thought I wanted. I am forever indebted to this experience and I never want this feeling to end.
So, what happens to a dream…discovered?
Life happens. And change. And happiness. And peace. And gratefulness. And surrender.
Whatever your dreams are, it is okay if they change. Whatever you are meant to do, will ultimately find you.
Be ready. Be open. Be brave. Your dreams are waiting!