The Black American individual who has inspired change in my life is the woman who I admire the most. My grandmother, who I call Nana, has truly been an inspiration in my life. My Nana participated in sit-ins at restaurants during the civil rights protests in the 1960’s. She also spent 30 years at the Department of Social Services advocating for families in the community. In 2021, my grandmother ran for the office of city council for the city of Kannapolis, North Carolina. It was exciting being a part of her campaign, as she went from neighborhood to neighborhood talking to people and asking them their concerns about the city. My Nana, Mrs. Jeanne A. Dixon, made history to become the first African-American woman to be elected to the Kannapolis city council. Her platform was to keep the local economy strong and to build stronger relationships with the community residents
Because I am inspired by my Nana’s commitment to the community, I volunteer for the Iredell County Partnership for Young Children. Nana is on the board of directors for the Partnership for Young Children in her county. This is a wonderful organization that focuses on the educational development and health of children from ages birth to five. I volunteered in the Early Learning Resource Center which holds a collection of books, learning games, and educational materials for families and preschool teachers to use and check out. It was rewarding to me because the time I invested in the Partnership for Young Children was time invested in the future success of young children in our community.
When I decided to donate a tote full of books from my early childhood, I visited a small charter school in a severely neglected area of town. In talking to the principal, I discovered the students do not have adequate access to books because the school does not have a library. In addition to donating my books, I started a community book drive for the school. I accepted donations of new or gently used books, and I requested books by African American authors or books about successful African American people. This opportunity was also rewarding to me because like my grandmother, I believe it is important to help children get a firm foundation for academic success later in life.
My career plan is to obtain my master’s degree in Urban Planning at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Urban planning is a profession whose mission involves building equitable and thriving communities for families and senior citizens as well. I also want to be a voice for environmental justice to ensure underrepresented communities are not subjected to unfair or hazardous exposures in their neighborhoods. Another aspect of my job would be to create short and long term goals to help revitalize or maintain the character of the community. Just like my Nana, I am excited about the possibility of having a positive impact on my community for many years to come.