Amber Grisby - ESL101 Scholarship Winning Essay
I could tell you a million things about me, my family, and my life. You might understand. You might not. Either way, I will keep my head to the sky and wonder, ‘What's out there for me? What's important in this world? What is my higher power - my purpose?’ I would like to welcome you to my autobiography; a simplified version. I won’t keep you long. As you read this story take a minute to imagine yourself in my world. Put my shoes on. Take a step into my reality; get know me.
Born the oldest of seven children, I grew up in South Stockton, California in a single parent household. My mother worked most of my life. While she worked my siblings and I stayed with my grandmother. The last memory I have of my dad was when I was about 4 years old. My mom, my little brother and I lived with him in the projects in South Stockton. One night he decided to bring another woman home and that didn't sit very well with my mother. We were put out on the streets with nowhere to go. My grandmother picked us up and took us to the Motel 6 on Ben Holt Drive. At that time my Grandmother was homeless as well. That night we gathered around for a prayer, then went to sleep.
The next year we moved into our own project apartment. Living with us was my grandmother, uncle, aunt, and two cousins, all in a two bedroom apartment. I started kindergarten at George Washington Elementary and every month I brought awards home to my mom. She took me to school by city bus every morning. We lived in Central Stockton so my school was far away but my mom made sure she took me to school and picked me up every day. I started first grade at Victory Elementary but I didn't get to finish the year because my mom did not have transportation. I finished the rest of my school year at Eldorado Elementary. I was retained in the second grade. My classmates made fun of me and picked on me for flunking. My family also made me feel bad about being held back. They looked down on me. I grew depressed at a young age and I didn't have many friends. The friends I did have were in a grade higher than me, so I felt stuck and alone. My mom was ashamed that I flunked second grade. Deep inside my eight-year-old heart I was ashamed as well.
Starting third grade, I did very well and I was very advanced. I made the honor roll. In fourth grade I discovered my flower and what it meant. I was really scared, I didn't tell my mom for a year. I got acne and my body started to develop. I didn't have a boyfriend but my friends did. I didn't care for boys too much - they were my friends and I was OK with that. In sixth grade I ended up back at Victory School. I was student of the year and was on the honor roll. I was so happy, but sad as well because I had to go back to Eldorado for seventh and eighth grade.
In the seventh grade I started raising my third little sister. My mom worked, so the responsibility fell on me. It was hard taking care of a baby and finding time for homework and watching my other two siblings, who were eleven and five at the time. I was thirteen. I had just met my first boyfriend and started to take my first relationship seriously. That didn't go so well and it brought out a dark side in me that has never left.
As time went by my baby sister got bigger and I took her to the park whenever I wasn't in school. Everyone believed she was mine - so did I. My eighth grade year went by - I had a rough year. I was getting over my ex-boyfriend. My grades were good but I wasn't happy inside. I couldn’t figure out why everyone around me was so happy and I wasn't.
I attended Health Careers Academy during my freshmen and sophomore years of high school. It was a pleasant experience. I loved the school and my new friends, but my mom couldn’t afford to take me to school anymore, so I took the bus. I couldn't go to school without having a sword in my scrubs for protection. Once my school started doing security checks I had to figure something else out to protect myself. Eventually I had to be homeschooled through Venture Academy, and I finished my junior year there.
After high school I worked two jobs to get by and take care of me, my baby sister and another baby - my mother had her fifth child a month before I graduated. Now there were two little girls in my budget and in my life. I love them dearly but sometimes I wonder - what would life be like for me if my mom had raised her own children? My mom was in our life to support us. She worked hard for us but whenever she wasn't working she was so used to me picking up the slack that she didn't really know where to fit in. She loves us, but we never had the intimate, loving relationship a child needs. As for my father, I'm not sure what to say. If he had been the first man to tell me I was beautiful that may have prevented a lot of the decisions I made in my life.
I currently attend Carrington College. I love it. The staff is friendly and very happy. I've never been around so many people who wanted to see me succeed. It’s wonderful for me. I haven't joined any clubs yet, but I will. My major is Medical Administration. In the future I want to be a radiologist. As an adult I learned that no one is going to be around forever. You only have yourself in this big, lonely world. People say they care about your well being but that's not necessarily the truth.
Through the hardest times, I had to keep my head up and fight to make everything count for the good of myself and my little ones. I have learned valuable lessons in my life that will be helpful to me. My only wish is to further my education and to take it seriously. I know I can. I will win. I am the future.
(Editor's Note: Congratulations to Ambraya Grisby - ESL101 Scholarship winner for January 2017. I am publishing her essay late - apologies for that. Ambraya is the co-winner this semester - the other winning essay will be published next month.)