My name is Artesia Graham and I’m born and raised here in Las Vegas. I have been chosen as an Education Mentor of the SID Center. Over the years, I’ve learned that I’m not ashamed to share my story because it can inspire someone to also be a great leader and philanthropist in their future also. I would like for you to understand the path that I’ve taken to improve as a person and student.
While reading the stories of other mentors, it sunk into me that I am also damaged from the horror that I experienced in my childhood years. In relation, most of my life has been a learning experience because I spent the majority of my childhood fatherless. Truth be told, I believe a lot of children have been longing for the love of their biological father who should be present and supporting their children in their educational and personal endeavors. My biological father has been in jail and prison multiple times throughout my life, although he was there mentally through contact but not physically involved in my education. Though he was incarcerated, he also encouraged me to stay focused and positive. My mother has been incorporating both aspects of being a mother and father into the lives of my siblings and me. She has struggled with the basic needs such as working a full-time job, paying bills, keeping food in our refrigerator, and ensuring that she supported us in school. I have understood that being a mother and father was demanding for my mother because she had to learn how to balance all of her responsibilities and learn to remain stable with all the weight on her back. Also, I have begun to understand how this childhood struggle has impacted me.
Essentially, the psychological effects of my childhood have had an outsized impact on who I will become later in my life. An important quote by Ben Spencer says, “growing up without a father could permanently alter the structure of the brain”. This quote has set my mindset to enhance and grow continuously. I have learned that being a child who is fatherless brings upon emotional distress such as Depression and a sense of low self-esteem. As children, we never learned the meaning of what emotions we felt until we become older and learned about them more. Not only is it hard to discuss my story, but it brings back dark memories of my father being taken into jail custody. Being fatherless has made me feel very depressed and upset. I remember getting many bouts of depression that permeated into every aspect of my life; physically and mentally. There were many nights that I watched my mother struggle and cry due to the confusion of not being able to manage to pay all of the bills from her one paycheck every two weeks. I would hug and try my best to support her. It made me more upset at the thought of not being able to help contribute to helping her pay our household bills. Every night, I’d pray for emotional restoration for my mother and stability to be brought into our home. Although, my thoughts continued to dwell on me as I progressed throughout middle school and high school. As an effect, I was also fighting and being suspected from school. In middle school, I was sent to Jeffrey Behavior School which caused me to forget the meaning of my education. In high school, I’d also be called to the dean’s office due to something that was I said or drama that was brought to the administration’s attention. Essentially, there were many occurrences where I didn’t care about my education or where my future would go. Thankfully, I have always managed to pull through these bouts of depression. I attribute this struggle of being fatherless to the ongoing support of my mentors and their unrelenting efforts to help me restore balance in my life. I also remember many of my high school teachers who went out of their way to urge me to apply myself and do better. In many ways, life is a team sport. I encourage you to not be afraid to lean on your teammates for emotional support and reassurance.
My educational life did a 360 turn and become more achievable. I wasn’t fighting and involved in drama. I joined many clubs and organizations that included positive, high goal-orientated students such as National Honor Society, Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps, etc. Additionally, I also implemented a temporary Peer Mentoring program that aimed to support and encourage academic stability to current high school freshmen students. Due to this, my passion has come to be centered around volunteering and public achievement. I’ve volunteered at various non-profit organizations such as Rescue Mission, Shade Tree, Three Square, and Project 150. These organizations have helped me to shape my future into being a better philanthropist and passionate person of enhancing the lives of many people in my community. As of June 2017, I graduated with many scholarships, cords, stoles, and metals. I’m currently enrolled at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. To continue the ever-lasting accomplishments, I’m a member of Rho Epsilon Beta (NRHH), housing honorary that promotes the values of Recognition and Service within the residence hall and among campus residents, and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, an honor society that aims to honor, inspire and engage its members. Indeed, experiencing many bouts of depression and failures in middle and high school has made more passionate to inspire and encourage my fellow peers to stay focused and motivated to achieve. Through his absence, my father taught me that life isn't fair. There are no guarantees that we will attain anything, achieve anything, or be loved by anyone. No matter what predispositions we are born with, or what psychological effects may be associated with our childhood experiences, we are the ultimate forgers of our destiny. I have come to believe I can overcome the disadvantages of growing up without a father. I have also believed that I can still determine my future. I have begun to shape my future career through my involvement and improved confidence. Now, I am more dedicated and enthusiastic about sharing my story, but how this struggle has shaped my mindset to be stronger than others. Not only did my mentors inspire me, but the strength of my mother has made an ever-lasting impact that made me a stronger female. I’m more confident and motivated that my future will be full of happiness and joy. In the end, I’m even more excited about the continuous achievements, but also the opportunity to empower and strengthen my peers who are experiencing what I did.