Shanika D. Torres
I come from a family whose definition of "graduation" involved moving up from juvenile halls to prison walls. I knew I wanted something different for my life, but without positive examples of people having success and pursing higher education, my options seemed daunting.
I decided that if I was going to make my life different from the negative role-models around me, I needed to be the one to break the cycle. Yes, I still had speed bumps along my journey (e.g., teenage pregnancy at 17, divorced mother of two by 20, trying to juggle college as a single-mother), but I was able to persevere and I can proudly say I have broken the cycle!
Fast forward to present day, I am happily re-married to the man I divorced in my early 20s, we now have 4 kiddos (2 girls, 2 boys), and I obtained my MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with plans to progress toward my doctorate in Health Psychology starting fall 2014.
I'll wrap up who I am with this...Yes, I thought about giving up and becoming a victim of my own circumstances, but I knew I had a higher calling to be more than just my pain, more than my failures. I had an opportunity to be an example, and what an honor it has been to say, 'Darn right it was hard! But guess what? I am still standing!'