La'Keisha Ciprian, M.Ed.: A Story of Triumph

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I always knew that I would attend college, I wanted to be like my older sister Lori who graduated from Lincoln University when I was nine years old. I remember her graduation day vividly and for years fantasized about the moment that I too would take the stage and shout “I did it”! I envisioned it all…the flip of my tassel, my wave to the crowd, and my family squealing with joy; all of these actions coupled with my power pose would affirm the message that my mother engrained in her children that we could achieve whatever we wanted as long as we tried and worked hard.

When it came time to apply for college my guidance counselor instead suggested that I pursue work as a secretary and informed me that everyone is not college material, she also reminded me that it would be too challenging for my mother to afford sending twins to college considering we already lived in the projects and that it would not be fair to burden her with such stress. I also remember that day vividly and sitting down with my mother explaining to her what occurred at the meeting. I thought that my time spent with my guidance counselor would be encouraging but it was instead deflating. Over the course of a few weeks my mother assisted me with completing 13 college applications; the Director of an afterschool program in my neighborhood took time out of her schedule to read and critique my essays. I felt an incredible amount of support from my family in total and from members in our small community. Week after week I received acceptance letters, and after all was said and done, I was accepted to all of the colleges that I applied for. My family was proud, and so was my community.

In 1998 my twin sister and I were awarded the first academic scholarship offered by our housing authority and we triumphed in dispelling the myth that circumstances limit your growth. From that point forward I committed myself to advocating for access to quality educational experiences and opportunities; it is a right that we all deserve whether we live in a mansion or in a slum and no person or obstacle should stand in your way.