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Life has never been tookind to me. Growing up a black girl in the hood, I wasn't supposed to make it.By now I should be someone's babymama and chasing after my drug dealingbabyfather, but that's not the life I wanted. I know the odds were stacked againstme. Not only was I a black girl from the hood, I also didn't have any parents.My mother left me to go chase behind my father. He introduced her to a certainlife, a certain life that she'll forever chase. I understood her. I understoodwhy she left me. She was chasing something I couldn't give her, a feeling shewill only come close to getting but never feeling it truly again. I forgiveher, but I won't forgive my father for introducing her to crack and taking mymother away from me. Life wasn't always hard. I was raised by grams, Mae. Mygrams was the sweetest lady you'd ever meet. She taught me everything. Shetaught me to survive. My goal in life was to make my grams proud. I wanted herto see that she didn't fail caregiver just because my mother was a drug addict.I wanted to show her that I could beat the odds. Sadly, my granny passed awayfrom brain cancer when I was 15. With no family I had to raise myself. My gramstaught me how to survive, but she never prepared me for life without her. I'm still learning. I graduated high school.I was the valedictorian. That's not saying much though. The education systemwas terrible in the hood, but I knew my grams was happy I did so. Just doingthat was beating the odds, but I knew I needed to do more. Graduation day Ialmost didn't come. I knew there wouldn't be anyone there for me. I had nofriends and no family. I still went. I also got a full ride to the college ofmy dreams. I got into NYU where I dualed majored in social work and psychology,with a minor in black studies. I didn't know what I wanted to be, but I knew Iwanted help black girls. I wanted to be that someone a black girl could turnto. That someone I lost when my grams died. My name is Raven like the bird.Although Raven's symbolize bad luck, which seemed to follow me, I feel likethey're misunderstood like me. Why must everything that is black symbolize bador bad luck? I'm 23 in my junior year of college. I know that's a little olderthan the traditional student, but I was far from traditional. I was going tobecome someone by any means necessary. I was resilient and despite the oddsstacked against me I was going to make it.

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