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It Was Both a Fast and Slow Year

This year has really had its difficulties for me. I thought so many times, “Naudia you should just give up already it is too hard.” I’ve been through so much this year it is so crazy, but with God by my side I knew I just couldn’t give up because there are way too many people in my life counting on me. This school year threw many hard challenges my way, but I managed to get through it, so I can graduate from Goshen High School and go to a wonderful college. I only have one class that is hard, but i am doing great as of right now. Algebra two with trig gets complicated if you miss a day of school. I try very hard not to miss school because i have responsibilities as an Ambassador to have good grades and attendance. I took the ACT twice in the beginning of the seester and I was not very happy with my score. I was very shocked and disappointed in myself, but I am going to take it again no doubt. I am going to go even harder when I take it again. I am aiming for a twenty one or higher because I want to go to a good college.

I have set several goals for myself than I did last year and the year before that. Other than that, the school year has gone by fast. This school year taught me a lot of stuff on how to be more responsible and better myself not just in school. This school year went by slow and fast at the same time, if that makes any sense. I’ve had many times when I had assignments due and I thought I wasn’t going to turn it in on time. I stayed up knowing I was missing hours of sleep just to get my assignments done. I had to do whatever it took to get it done. I’ve had many setbacks this school year that really stopped me from achieving what I had to. I’ve had my darks times when I lost my great grandma and other family members. I wasn’t sure if I was going to get back on my feet and continue getting good grades. I wasn’t getting enough sleep because I was up all night thinking about everything. It was a very tough time for me when all those crazy things happened this year. My grades starting dropping to B’s and after I had all A’s. Then when I had a long and deep talk my mom, she helped me get through all the pain I was going through. I started getting sleep and focussing on the most important thing: my grades. I got them back up to straight A’s because I knew I had to maintain my grades, and as of right now I’m doing well in all my classes!

Naudia Dorsey
GUA Ambassador
Goshen High School

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The Opportunities of This Year

This past school year, I have gotten a tremendous amount of opportunities that have been beneficial to me. Some of those opportunities include: being a GEAR UP Alabama Ambassador, becoming a dual enrollment student at Tuskegee University, becoming an FBLA member, and more.

This year, I haven’t had any lows that affected me in a terrible way in which I am eternally grateful for. In the next coming months, I am looking forward to being inducted into the National Honor Society, campaigning (and hopefully winning) the position of Miss Booker T. Washington High School, becoming a senior, being a GUA Ambassador for the second year, and many others. This has been a wonderful year and I can not wait to see what else is in store for me opportunities wise as well as college and career wise.

By Tekajah Lewis
Booker T Washington High School
GUA Ambassador

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Junior Year: Learning New Things and Seeing the Bigger Picture

My junior year of high school was an amazing time for me to grow as a person and also learn new things about the world around me.

To kick off this year I dived into my second year as a majorette for the Sidney Lanier Marching Poets band. From the time we marched in to the time we marched out it was always an electrifying experience.  For the duration of football season I lit up the field with my baton every time I stepped foot on it with my superior twirling prowess. To add to this, all of Lanier’s auxiliary lines won superior trophies at Selma’s Annual Battle of the Bands. Wrapping up a fantastic year of band I found myself marching in the 95th Annual Turkey Day Classic Parade.

When it comes to school accomplishments I have been very fruitful. Being enrolled in a few advanced placement classes, I am to receive a rigorous lesson that challenges me and ensure the optimal learning experience. Throughout this year I was fortunate enough to stay on the honor roll and maintain a high grade point average.    

During this school term I was able to experience events that will help me make wise career choices for my future. An example of this being how I was able to explore my interest in writing. I took journalism and was apart of the staff responsible for my school’s newspaper the award winning Blue & White. Spending a year in journalism I was taught how to be a more proficient writer. Also several of my articles were published in the newspaper this year.

Because of all this I realized how much I love writing. All of the hard work and time that goes into making a story proves itself to be worth it when the product is finalized and completed. As a student in journalism, I was also given the opportunity to write about Black Belt Friday. After this experience I decided to become an ambassador for Gear Up Alabama.

My most recent undertaking is to make a good score on the ACT. The faculty and staff at Lanier High School have dedicated all of their time to making sure every student does their very best and is well prepared for the test. Consequently, when I recently took the test I was ready and gave my it my all.

In a nutshell my junior year of high school was a great time for me. As a person who has a thirst for knowledge I can say that my thirst was effectively quenched for the year. I’m just curious to see what next year will have in store.

By: Jaliyah Stokes
Sidney Lanier High School
GUA Ambassador
Class of 2020

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A Volunteer's Perspective on Black Belt Fridays

My name is Grace Whitmire and I am a senior at UAB pursuing my Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood/Elementary Education. I changed my major to Education a little over a year ago and it has been one of the best decisions of my life. I first heard about GEAR UP Alabama in one of my classes last semester (Fall 2018). We were studying different types of families and Dr. Briggs, Project Director of GUA, visited our class and gave a presentation on families living in poverty. She talked about her experiences visiting the Black Belt and her passion was both obvious and contagious. Knowing that there were families in counties within the Black Belt who didn’t even have running water broke my heart and ignited a flame in my being that urged me to learn more about GUA and its mission.

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After class, I went up to the front of the classroom and spoke with Dr. Briggs. I introduced myself and expressed my interest in attending one of the Black Belt Friday Bus Tours. She told me where to go to find more information and where to sign up for the bus list. Walking away from class that day, I felt like I had taken a step in the right direction. I immediately went online and signed up for the next bus trip. This trip was on Friday, November 30th and we were scheduled to travel to Booker T. Washington High School in Macon County. I had read on the website and in the details about the trip that there would be some time to discuss the history of the area and that we would be visiting a historical landmark as well, so I was really looking forward to the day ahead. I enjoyed the bus ride down to the Black Belt because we engaged in meaningful discussion and we heard amazing things from the brothers of Let Us Make Man. I’ll admit, I had never participated in anything like this before, so I was very nervous. The staff at Booker T. Washington High School and the GUA staff all made me feel so welcome and comfortable, so as soon as I stepped foot into the school, my nerves were completely gone. The school welcomed us in such a way that was so far from what I was expecting. You could tell that pride, honor, and school spirit lived in this school and its students.

Getting to speak with the students, share my own experiences, and answer their questions was such an inspirational experience for me. The way those students spoke about their school and their plans for their futures was nothing short of amazing. I was so very honored and humbled to have met everyone there. Needless to say, I left the school that day wishing I had been a student at that high school. Following our visit to the school, we toured Macon County’s Vocational School and the historic Shiloh Rosenwald School. This part of the trip was very interesting because we were able to learn about some of the amazing opportunities for students in Macon County and learn about the history of the area. On the bus trip home, we discussed everything that happened and what we learned from the trip. Overall, I learned that we should invest our time and resources in today’s youth because they will be tomorrow’s leaders. I feel very thankful for the education that I have and for the opportunities that were given to me when I was in school and now, I feel an obligation to help ensure others have the same opportunities as I did.

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Since the trip to Macon County in 2018, I have participated in each Black Belt Friday Trip in 2019, including trips to Butler County, Montgomery, and Wilcox County. Each time I go, I learn so much more about the students, their communities, the GUA staff, and myself. I am a true believer that what GUA is doing in the lives of these students is making a difference. Dr. Briggs and Dr. Perry have both explained multiple times that even if we just spoke to the students for a small moment, we planted seeds. We may never get to see that seed grow, and that’s okay. Giving students hope that their dreams can become a reality is something that I want to keep doing as long as I’m able to. I am so thankful that I made the decision to attend one of the Black Belt Friday Bus Trips because it has changed my life in so many ways. If you are reading this and are on the fence about whether or not you should go, then take my advice and DO IT!! You will be so glad you did. I am so thankful for the opportunity to get to know the GUA staff and members of Let Us Make Man. This organization is simply amazing.

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The Relevance of Black History Month

Black History Month should be relevant to everyday life as a whole and is especially present in the historic town of Tuskegee, Alabama. Being in the city of Tuskegee has me at a great advantage because I am surrounded by history and some of the many people who has lived through some of it. Being surrounded by history shows me how there are many sacrifices that had to be made in order for going to Tuskegee University to be possible for me and many other students.

Being on the university’s campus is not only great but it is also awe-inspiring, to say the least. To be surrounded by almost 140 years of history can take a great toll on the mind by showcasing that we are awesome and can be successful in whatever positive things we put our mind to. Walking through the campus has given me the feeling that many years ago, people probably my age and older, walked through these doors and saw the endless amount of opportunities that was available for them. At the same time, being able to see all the historical sights and imagining how it used to be before modern times allows me to know that the work Booker T. Washington put into this school to have it built. Now, to have Tuskegee University be one of the most well-known HBCUs in the nation makes me believe that this was his dream and that we are all living it to make this school become what it is today.

Going onto TU’s campus gives me an even better view and a more clearer picture for my future, as achieving my goals has always been my main drive in life. Many years ago, there were students who wanted to learn and students who wanted to make life better for themselves and the next generation to come. I am grateful to be a part of this next generation to do something great and to make my mother proud no matter what happens.  

Living in Tuskegee has the effect that Black History Month is not only in February but its every month. Black History shows the struggles and the successes that have came into fruition because of years and years of being told what we couldn’t do. I’m glad I have this opportunity to be in a place where there are countless success stories. I am proud to be a Tuskegee citizen.

Tekajah Lewis 
GUA Ambassador 
Booker T. Washington High 
Class of 2020

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