Jun 24, 2020
by AYSHA BOWENS
Burke High School Class of 2020 Valedictorian
The legacy that I would like to leave behind is not only for my family but for those who travel the same path as mine.
While my path was full of support from family members and friends, opportunities that allowed me to meet influential people just like every journey it also had its trials and tribulations: from deciding that I wanted to attend a historically all-black high school to dealing with the struggle of figuring out what I wanted to do in the future. I was able to stay connected with my family’s legacy but in the process I lost the variety of courses and opportunities that I could have taken if I went to another school. This decision inspired me to create a foundation and non-profit organization that will support the education of students from all walks of life providing the tools and resources for a successful future. This will be my legacy.
In order to open the doors for all students, especially when schools and districts fall short I would like to create a foundation called “S.Y.D Foundation” which stands for Support Your Dreams. This foundation would allow students to pursue their dreams when the district or school can not provide. The foundations’ focus would be to fund classes that are not typically seen within a standard high school such as: cosmetology, education, and journalism in conjunction to the standard science, technology, engineering, arts, math, which would then release an abundance of opportunities. Funding would also be allocated for a School Improvement Council or Parent, Teacher, Student Association, the funding would be used for helping teachers and student organizations to provide students a better quality of education. The Support Your Dreams Foundation will give students tools and resources to be successful in whatever path they choose to follow.
What I’ve learned in life is that we have to use what we learned repeatedly for us to get better at something, even if it’s a project or an apprenticeship. To aid in the knowledge that the foundation will provide there will be a non-profit organization to use the knowledge. The non-profit organization will be called Undeferred Dreams. An organization that will support the foundation, by taking what they learned in high school and applying it as they transition into careers. The organization will focus on providing students with career opportunities. The organization will also provide classes that will prepare students for college, military, and other post-high school choices. Undeferred Dreams will allow for students to take what they have learned a step further to create opportunities for themselves.
When the torch is passed, and it is my turn to leave a legacy, I will do everything in my power to positively impact my community by working towards providing equitable education and opportunities. The overall goal will be for the foundation and nonprofit organizations to provide students with a better quality of education that will lead to immense opportunities. My legacy will be to create the school system so that students have the means of sustainability in their academic, financial, and personal lives. They will also have support to be advocates not only for themselves but for the people around them who did not have a chance to have their dreams supported.
As my legacy evolves it will represent a stand against gentrification, and social inequality.
When I asked myself what would my legacy be, I knew it had to be one of the many building blocks of life. Something that is used universally, no matter the language or time period. I thought of education, as you have the ability to not only educate yourself but to educate others at any given time or place. As education is universal it can become limited due to the ideals of success within society. I knew my legacy would have to support dreams by allowing them access to resources that will allow them to utilize their interests and customize their own education.
I envisioned what I didn’t see in the school system and wrote a brief paragraph on it within 20 minutes. Then I expanded on it to create this piece of work. In order to expand knew that I needed to assess my own educational career. I had to be transparent and to not only rely on the great things that affected of one’s education, but also the negative. Great things like the election of Former President Barack Obama, which resulted in assignments that allowed me to find representation in myself more than just inventors who didn’t get credit or didn’t profit off of their own inventions. Negative things like the sense of hopelessness I felt when I heard the not guilty verdict for Trayvon Martin’s case, which caused my passion for justice. The righteousness and victory of our struggle influenced this dream of mine.
When the day comes when the torch of my legacy is lit, fueled by hard work and dedication, it should ignite a different path. A path where all black lives matter, where there is no pay gap between races, where there is an even playing ground. A path where all learners, no matter what age will have the resources to accommodate them in their own success. A path where we can write our own success. A path that will acknowledge the existence of prejudice, racism, bias and fight against it. A path where all races will have an equal seat at the table of law and life. Not just a high-chair at the table, that only allows us to see the spray painted surface that reads Black Lives Matter until the rain of law comes around to not protect us for 401 years and counting.