In an alternate universe, my parents never immigrated to the US from Liberia. I would’ve grown up in the village along with my other siblings who were native there. I would’ve been the common village girl, fetching water, and cooking for the children of the compound. Depending on my tribe, my status would be beneath my brothers or any man of the village. I would be considered disposable and married off as soon as it was seen fit before the age of 18. There is an even greater chance that I would be married before getting the opportunity to learn how to read, making me illiterate among my male counterparts. My education would have been terminated and my youth, a distant memory.
But that has not and will not happen to me.
But what is to say about my sisters whose only disadvantage is the region or country in which they were born? The life I was given is elusive in the eyes of 132 million. One hundred thirty-two million girls who do not have access to education. One of the sustainable development goals is to provide safe access to education for all adolescent girls and gender equality on all fronts. As a former teen advisor for Girl up, I find myself surrounded by those with dreams and goals alike; goals for improvement and innovation. We need to remember that education is not only the expansion of knowledge but also a remarkable tool for women’s empowerment.
Fresh off the boat, many, in my parents' position, wonder if this place was true to its words: A land of opportunity and prosperity. Growing up, I’d hear, “Do you know what it means to graduate from high school back home?” These words resonated within me. It was a continuous tune hearing how much of an honor it was to be graduating from school in America. Family, God, and Education were our pillars of life- as it is to many others.
I now look back at how far I’ve come and the values instilled in me since I was young and I look forward to what is to come with an eager mindset to exercise these values at Cabrini.