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Education was always emphasized in my family. My paternal grandmother received her bachelor's degree at age 68 and a master's degree five years later. The only words I remember my maternal grandmother telling me were, "You've got to get that education." She said these words over and over again.

I "got that education." At age 19, I put myself through school and received a college education as I mentioned in my previous assignment. I still struggled, however. Education can mean so many different things.

My paternal grandmother died in 2007 at the age of 90. In 1944, when she was 27 years old, she courageously refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on an interstate bus. She was arrested and appealed her case all the way to the Supreme Court where she won. Her case (Morgan v. Virginia) set a course for the famous civil rights Freedom Rides that took place afterwards.

She is famously known for this singular act of defiance but she had it in her to accomplish so much more. She was severely abused by her first husband, my grandfather, and when she remarried it was to an alcoholic who, although was very loving, hampered her ability to thrive.

Confidence is a trait that cannot be emphasized enough as well. It's a trait that can, on one day, be with us and on another leave us altogether. I see girls who, although appear to be very outspoken, struggle to speak up and say "no" when they are mistreated by boys. I see women who have the confidence to manage a project on their job yet lack the confidence to ask for the raise they so well deserve and the raise their male counterparts all receive.

Compounding the issue of confidence are the concrete issues of stark economic inequality in my community. There are so many girls who not only receive a sub par education because they are in a poor neighborhood, they may also struggle to concentrate because they are simply starving. There are thousands of children in New York City alone who are homeless. They may be insecure about their immigration status or the status of their family members.

Children from a higher economic profile often have a nonchalance about them that I wish more children could experience. Their parents may have struggles of their own but at least there is enough food in the kitchen, the heat is working; there is no fear of them losing their home or being deported. It's an ease that comes from knowing you're attending the best schools in the city and that your economic future is also secure.

These are some of the barriers I see many girls in my community face. I hope that in my work I can alleviate some of them. While doing so, I will always remember my grandmother's courage on that fateful day and her potential for all those that followed.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Girls Transform the World Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring girls greater access to education which will transform their lives, their families, and communities. The Girls Transform Campaign elicits insightful content from young women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as women, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
Learn more »


delphine criscenzo's picture


Hello Nechesa,

This is beautiful. Not only did you answer more than the questions I had about you and your access to education, but you connected it with the experience of your grandmother and reminded us that there was a time in the US when "separate" was unequal. Furthermore, you underline how some of the inequalities your grandmother faced, still exist under different forms, different names.
Your writing style is very compelling, clear, open. I enjoy your chose of words and the flow of your ideas.
I am so glad you are applying for the program!

Delphine Criscenzo

ola.mahadi's picture

well done

Liked your story telling style.
Good luck
Was here

It is never too late to try make your way to your dream and left up your expectation.
Sudanes Women Building Peace

Nechesa's picture

Thank you!

Thank you, Ola.

Delphine, I couldn't have done it without you. If I just had a little more time, I could have made it come full circle a bit better but I wouldn't have had anything if it weren't for you.

Thank you!!!!!

EmmaKWin's picture

Nechesa, Thank you for


Thank you for sharing your powerful story about education in your community. I am particularly impressed with the way you tie your family history with segregation into the persistent problems experienced in your community today -- as a fellow New Yorker, I see this sort of inequality every day as well. I'd love to know your plans to alleviate some of these seemingly insurmountable problems. What is the first thing you would do to try to achieve your goals?


Hi Emma,

Thank you so much for reading my journal entry.

The objective of my business is to not only sell t-shirts but spread the message that anyone can make a change in the world - no matter how small and that each of us is capable of making huge changes. This objective partly addresses the issue of confidence that I've witnessed and personally experienced. Most people know about iconic figures such as Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi. What I want to get across is that we each also have that capability within ourselves to impact the world greatly for the better.

I want my activism to be through my business. I don't believe there should be a dichotomy between for-profit and non-profit enterprises. As my business grows, so too, does my activism. My business embraces pop-culture and sees how the two can go hand-in-hand. I applaud the young people of today who have helped elect (and re-elect) the first black U.S. president. They generally view one's sexuality as a non-issue and now we will most likely see the U.S. Supreme Court rule that discrimination against LGBT individuals is unconstitutional.

Now we may see comprehensive immigration reform. Changes to seemingly insurmountable problems are taking place before our eyes.

So to answer your question, I'm currently raising the profile of my business so I can use its influence to impact change by inspiring other people to join in making a change and through raising the profile of activism and supporting efforts of activism all over the world.

Thanks again for asking.


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