Page 1

1

Campus Echo

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 13, 2011

A CAMPUS ECHO SPECIAL FEATURE N

in

e h

t

st

O R TH

C

A R O L I N A

C

E N TR A L

UN

IVERSITY

person true stories from the lives of ten nccu students

What I learned from my worst birthday ever

I had an affair with my high school teacher

You can’t choose your parents — alas

BY DREYVON MCLENDON

BY JESSICA MARTIN

BY MIKEA MARTIN

I

I

I

remember that day just like it was yesterday. That was the day I received the best gift any 13-year-old could. Everyone was happy for me because I was going to be a teenager soon. I was ready to leave my childish days behind and make my way into adolescence. That whole week I started doing things for myself. I woke myself up for school in the mornings, I fixed my own lunch, washed and ironed my clothes, and cleaned the house. I thought all these things would be important if I were going to become a teenager. January 18, 2005 was my last day of being twelve years old, I was extremely excited. My mom, my two little brothers and I went over to my grandparent’s house. I talked with my grandmother for awhile about but I was bored by the conversation. As soon as she finished asking about school I told her my birthday was the next day. I was not sure if she remembered, since her multiple sclerosis had taken a toll on her memory. But I did not mind reminding her at all. I’d mention it a million times that day if I had to. Apparently she hadn’t remembered because when I told her she replied with enthusiasm. When I told her I would be turn

ing 13, she gave me a crazy look that almost scared me.

lay on the cold table with my legs propped open watching the doctor prepare to give me a sonogram. The gel was cold on my belly. “Can I see it?” I fearfully asked the doctor as he pulled my baby up on the screen. He said no. I guess that was best; if I had seen the shape of the creature I knew I was about to kill I probably would have freaked and walked out of Planned Parenthood. A few seconds passed and the doctor said he had found it. My 7-week fetus was down in the lower part of my stomach on the left side. I still feel like he was hiding in there — his little ass probably knew what was coming. The sound of the vacuum still rings in my ears almost three years later. In the car I leaned my seat back and closed my eyes and cried all the way back to WinstonSalem. He had taken me to Greensboro because he was scared of someone from school or anyone catching us together at the abortion clinic — didn’t want anyone “getting the wrong idea.” A year earlier he had invited me to his spot to watch drum major clips on YouTube. He said the footage would help me and the squad that year. That night I climbed into my ‘84

t was a dark and gloomy midnight on Asbury Drive. All that could be heard was the voice of a girl yelling, “STOP, STOP!” That young girl was me. I had just started sixth grade. I saw him grab my mother aggressively. He looked so scary and mean. His eyes were bloodshot and he was very agitated. He was a man I had never seen before. I recall him and my mother arguing upstairs because she was trying to convince him to go to the hospital. He said, “You want me to leave. I’m not leaving, you are.” He became very aggressive and started pushing my mother to get down the stairs. Following them down the stairs, I screamed, “STOP! Get off of her!” I saw him grab and hold my mother’s arm tight, push her into the garage and lock the door. I tried to grab his arm to pull him away, but my mother told me to stop and sit down. I was sitting down, screaming at the top of my lungs for him to stop. I could hear my mom say from the garage, “Mikea, it is okay. Everything is going to be okay.” After he locked my mother out, he went back upstairs. My face drenched with tears, I unlocked the door. My mother ran to the closet to get our jackets, shoes, and the car keys. We went to the closest school in Fort Washing-

n See DREYVON MCLENDON Page 6

n See JESSICA MARTIN Page 5

n See MIKEA MARTIN Page 2

Stories written by students in Composition II, taught by Dr. Lisa Carl


Feature

2 N

ORTH

C

AROLINA

C

ENTR AL

Campus Echo WEDNESDAY, APRIL 13, 2011

UNI

VER SI T Y

I AM NOT CONFUSED, I AM BILINGUAL Janaye Greene’s family and friends teased her for being a “wanna-be Hispanic” BY JANAYE GREENE

T

he frightened cry struck my attention. “Ayuda, ayuda!” I looked behind me and my heart sank as I watched a woman fall to

her knees. Her eyes rolled to the back of her head and she fell to the ground. She had passed out. I stood paralyzed in the middle of downtown Manhattan. But because of my ability to speak Spanish, I saved a life. My infatuation with Spanish began as a freshman at Wakefield High School in Raleigh. When I heard we had to learn another language in order to pass high school, I chose Spanish. The Hispanic population is growing the United States, which means more Spanish speakers. Hispanic men are attractive and I would be able to communicate with them: that excited me the most. My teacher, Senora Ces, was from Spain. I began to take private lessons with her after school daily. Senora Ces taught me how to speak with an accent, hold a fluent conversation, and read and write in Spanish. While my classmates were having trouble understanding Spanish, I was embracing the culture of Puerto Ricans, Dominicans and Cubans. I would walk around my high school communicating with the Hispanic I knew in Spanish. This made me feel like a new person: I could speak another language. If someone upset me, I could fuss them out in Spanish, if an Hispanic student was confused on an assignment, I would translate the words. These students were grateful because I took the time to learn their language. Many Hispanic students said I was one of them. Unfortunately, learning a new language has its downsides. I begin to be known as a “wannabe Hispanic,”an imposter. Some people took me as a joke, someone who didn’t know what she wanted to be in life. I was embarrassed. In Spanish class, I would not answer questions, even though I knew the answer. I wanted people to think I was just like them — confused. I believe my ability to speak Spanish fluently disturbed others because I was getting an A, I always

Janaye Green MORGAN CRUTCHFIELD/Echo staff photographer

“You are a confused fool. You are black and you need to realize that,” my cousin said.

received attention from peers who needed help, my Spanish teacher would never call on me in class and we would have side conversations in Spanish during free time. My ability to speak Spanish helped me and others. I was not trying to be someone I wasn’t, only to learn a different language. As a part-time worker at McDonald’s in Raleigh during high school, I communicated with customers who could not speak English, employees who did not understand an order, and I even translated English into Spanish for notification signs posted around the store. My managers greatly appreciated having an employee like me. After the embarrassment and name-calling of high school, I decided to leave North Carolina before senior year.

I was hoping to leave all the negative comments in Raleigh and go home to Harlem. I had lived in the Bronx, New York as a baby, so I stay with my cousins on W 150th street. A variety of Hispanic live there, and most everyone in New York can speak and understand Spanish, regardless of their race. One day I was watching the Spanish channel and my cousin entered the room. “What are you doing?” she asked. I responded, “Mirando a la tele.” She rolled her eyes and walked away. I didn’t think anything of it, so I continued watching television. Later that day I decided to blast a song called “Toma,” by Pitbull as I got dressed to go out. Once again my cousin entered the room, turned off the system. “You are black,” she yelled at me

in disgust. Ouch. I thought family would be proud of my accomplishments. As we were walking to the train station on 145th street, a tall, lightskinned male approached me. He had long, gorgeous hair and a smile that made my heart triple its beats. “Buenos tarde mami, se habla espanol?” he asked. “Si.” I smiled. While I was engaging in conversation with the guy of my dreams, my cousin interrupted. “She is not Spanish.” To me, she said, “You are a confused fool. You are black and you need to realize that.” The triple beats of my heart quickly lessened to one slow, mind-blowing, humiliating thump. I walked away. That’s all I could

do. I had just been embarrassed in the streets of New York City about how much of a fool I was for thinking I could speak Spanish. I started to think Spanish was no good for me. After all people in North Carolina thought I was confused, and so did my cousin. I decided to leave Spanish alone for good. We got off the train on 34th Street. I was hoping shopping would take my mind off what just happened. That is when I heard the scream. “Help, Help,” the woman was screaming in Spanish. I could have acted like I didn’t understand and kept walking. I decided to take a chance. I leaped across the busy streets, and I felt my adrenal glands begin to work; my heartbeats were quicker, I felt as if I was running faster than I had before, and sweat began to take control of my face. As I approached the woman’s breathless body, my skin crawled. The way her body lay on the cement made me forget my English; all I could think about is helping her. “Que paso, que paso?” My voice trembled. “No se, no se, mi amiga se desmayó,” the woman responded. Wondering whether she was breathing, I placed my index finger on her carotid artery and felt no pulse. “Mami, si puedes oírme, apretar mi mano.” There was no response. I tilted her head back and began CPR(Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation). After 10 minutes of forceful chest pumps and mouth-tomouth breathing, the woman coughed and opened her eyes. “Angel,” she whispered, and smiled. A chill went through my body and tears flowed down my cheeks; I smiled back. I couldn’t believe I had saved a life. If I had continued to let people’s comments control what I liked to do, I would not have been able to save this woman’s life. This incident tested my ability to speak and understand Spanish; I am lucky to do it so well. I am Janaye Greene, an African American who knows Spanish. As I walked back across the street with my cousin, I looked her in the eyes, and firmly told her, “Yo no estoy confundida, soy bilingue.” I am not confused, I am bilingual.

Mikea Martin CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 In my senior year of high school, my father left for good. ... I hated that he left during that time because he missed me going to prom.

Mikea Martin CHI BROWN/Echo staff photographer

ton, Maryland, and sat in the parking lot. My mother called his sister, Ann, as well as our pastor, Minister Walker, and Deacon Mims and explained what had happened. I curled up in the passenger’s seat, crying and wondering why he had gotten so violent. His sister met us in the parking lot, and we all went back to the house. We all walked upstairs slowly; my mother was in front, then Ann and me. My mom knocked on the bedroom door. “What?” he yelled. “Your sister is here to talk to you,” Mom replied. The door swung open and he yanked my mother into the room, pushed his sister out, slammed the door and locked it. I heard him ranting and raving. His sister took me downstairs and started praying. When our pastor, minister and deacon came, they all went upstairs. I tried to hear something, anything, but I couldn’t. Some time later, everyone came down. Swiftly, my mother gathered some clothes for us and we left. Later that day, the sheriff came to the house and took the man to a holding cell, for a couple of days. Sadly, the man I am speaking of is my father. My father has bipolar disorder. My mother could not explain why he acted the way he did. As I got older, I researched the disorder on WebMD.com. I found out that bipolarism is a mood disorder, also called manic-depression, caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. The brain tells the person that he or she does not need medication. During a manic episode, a

person might become hyper, aggressive, irritable and argumentative. Depressive episodes are characterized by loss of energy, restlessness, irritability and feelings of worthlessness. My father had a manic episode on the day I described. My father had been in my life constantly until 2006. March 8, 2006 seemed like a regular day to me. I was getting dressed for school when my told me my father had moved to Stone Mountain, Georgia to live with another woman. I couldn’t believe my father had left his own family to live with somebody else’s. Tears ran down my face uncontrollably. “He got up in the wee hours in the morning, around 2 or 3 a.m., packed up all his clothes and said, ‘I’m leaving,’” my mom told me. He should have woken me up and told me himself that he was leaving. I knew he was off his medicine but I never thought he would do some shit like that. Unfortunately, my father came back; everything wasn’t peachykeen in Stone Mountain. He told me that if he had found a good job, he would have stayed down there. Now I wish he had. In my senior year of high school, my father left for good, to return to his hometown in Virginia. I hated that he left during that time because he missed me going to prom. Although he was there for my graduation and moving into college, he wasn’t in my life physically every day. My father is very selfish; he never thinks about how his actions hurt others around him, with or without medicine. That’s why, now, I’m struggling to

pay for college. My savings is gone from my first year’s tuition. My father makes promises he never fulfills. I asked him last semester if he would give me $100 a month to help pay for books. Did he ever do it? No! He tends to make up excuses like, “I don’t have the money” or “things are tight,” but every time I see him, he has new shoes and clothes. Really? That’s some bullshit. How is he supposed to be a father when he doesn’t even provide? Now he is divorcing my mother and wants half of everything, which he barely put money into. He thinks my mother has all this money, which she doesn’t, especially since she’s on retirement income, trying to pay for my schooling and trying to pay for a lawyer for his selfish behind. He thinks he already did his job for my schooling because I received money from his disability. Now I have to figure out a way to help pay for school, to ease stress on Mom. At times my father is hypocritical because he tells me I should do what the Bible says, yet he wants a divorce. Also, the Bible says the husband should be the provider of the home, which he hasn’t done. Every child wants “perfect” parents who give them anything they want, a protector and a provider. But we can’t choose our parents. We have to accept them for who they are. In return, they should be willing to change for the better. As parents, they have to exchange “I” for “us” and think about what is best for the child. Apparently, my father is still lacking that “us.” I don’t think he will ever change.


Feature

Campus Echo WEDNESDAY, APRIL 13, 2011

N

O RTH

C

C

AR OLINA

3

ENTR AL

UNI

VER SI T Y

KNOWLEDGE IN SILENCE People wonder why Akil Jessup is so quiet. He recommends silence and careful observation. BY AKIL JESSUP

W

hat someone told me not long ago was this: “You don’t talk very much.” I suppose I would agree. I don’t talk very much. To strangers at least. But who does? Friends from elementary school through high school might say I talked too much. In first grade, I didn’t win “Student of the Week” until the last week of school, even though I consistently had the highest grades, because of my propensity to talk in class. People ask me if I’m shy. I’d say yes. This could be why I don’t say much to strangers. But those who ask me that are usually strangers. Again, my friends probably wouldn’t call me shy. But initially, yes, I am shy. I don’t think it’s from a lack of desire to know a person; plenty of people I would love to know better. I think there’s a lack of will to act. My trepidation in going up to a person and starting a conversation outweighs my desire to know that person. That, and saying “Hi, how are you doing?” is less of a conversation starter and more of a greeting. I’ve never been able to strike up an engaging conversation with a stranger. Maybe I just don’t know how. But on numerous occasions, it just hasn’t seemed to work. But people do have one misconception, not just about me, but about most of the “quiet ones.” People seem to think that because I don’t say anything, I don’t have anything to say. People think that because I’m quiet, I’m oblivious to what’s going on. In fact, have plenty to say. I just don’t say it. Why? Laziness maybe. It might take too much energy to move my mouth to sufficiently convey what I am thinking.

Akil Jessup CHI BROWN/Echo staff photographer

People need to open themselves up to the magnificence of the world. We need to see the world through our own eyes, not someone else’s.

If asked what’s on my mind, though, I am more than happy to share. But my Facebook status update box is the only thing that asks me that on a regular basis. Looking back, that’s a terrible excuse. My peers, though — they open their mouths and say absolutely nothing at all. Listen to the popular songs of the day. Most music has no message, tells no story that a person would read, were it written down. I don’t get it. Maybe they can’t help it. I’ve read that the power of the written word isn’t what it used to be. Maybe it’s because fewer people are doing any writing that doesn’t

involve an e-mail, text message, or a social networking site. But I think something just as important, maybe even more so, is being directly affected. The current population seems to undervalue the power of the spoken word. Some of my peers talk day and night, saying absolutely nothing of substance. I won’t lie and say that I don’t. Everybody does. Everybody should, every once in a while. It’s a relaxation, a break from the daily grind. But all day, every day? I think this craving to talk, and talk about nothing, has a put my generation in a precarious position. The

way we communicate now is not conducive to the progression of the human race. I see my classmates preoccupied with what this person said on Twitter last night, what pictures this person posted on Facebook, what is the breaking news on TMZ. People no longer talk face to face. They would rather text a friend, or send a message on Facebook or Twitter. These “conversations” don’t allow one to take in critical body language and facial expressions. But a number of my peers stay immersed in an alternate reality, surfacing only when the shock of real life smacks them in the face.

This immersion has left them with a slanted outlook. Recently, Japan was wracked by an earthquake and massive tsunamis. Nuclear reactors were damaged. Some of my peers took to their social networks to opine about the disaster. The majority expressed sorrow and concern. However, some made comments insensitive to the seriousness of the disaster. Many said the disaster was the result of karma for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor more than 60 years ago. I can’t help but think that without an almost symbiotic relationship with social networking sites, these ignorant thoughts wouldn’t have escaped into society. But perhaps the most important side effect of the degeneration of my generation is the loss of the art of observation. My generation doesn’t know how to pay attention anymore. Maybe that’s because everything they believe they need to know is shoved directly in their faces from birth. Parents tell us how to act, teachers tell us what to know, the law tells us what not to do. But that isn’t enough. People need to open themselves to the magnificence of the world. We need to see the world through our own eyes, not someone else’s. My quietness could be hereditary; my father is not the most social of men, outside of his profession as an attorney. It could just be an effect of my growing older. Wherever my personality comes from, I wouldn’t change for anything. I notice things others miss, hear things that escape others. I would rather talk to a person in the flesh than rely on technology. The world would be better off if people could learn to be less oblivious to the little things, which really aren’t so little. Maybe people just need to be quiet, to understand that there is knowledge in silence.

RISING ABOVE THE PAIN A student’s daily struggle with sickle cell anemia BY SHAMEEKIA LEWIS

Every day, I want to just give up on life.

didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to go to the hospital. In my eyes, the hospital is the devil in disguise. But she forced me. I wouldn’t take my medicine because I felt I didn’t need it. I just really want to be a normal kid. Why should I spend my time worrying about if in the next five minutes I’ll be in the worst pain ever? I just want to be normal, by any means necessary. On May 23, 1992 at 9:27 p.m. in St. Johns Hospital, Far Rockaway, Queens, New York, a little girl was born. I was premature and smaller than usual. Four pounds, 8 ounces to be exactly. I was the first child born after three miscarriages. I wasn’t supposed to have made it into this world at all. I came into this world with a mission, and even as a baby I knew I was supposed to make it, if only because they told me I wouldn’t. I had been home from the hospital for awhile and I was doing just fine. Then one day I got really sick, and my mother took me back to the hospital. That was the day she found out I had sickle cell anemia. Sickle cell anemia is a disease passed down through families in which red blood cells form an abnormal crescent shape. Red blood cells are normally shaped like a disc. The distorted red blood cells are shaped like crescents or sickles. These fragile, sickle-shaped cells deliver less oxygen to the body's tissues. They can also clog more easily in small blood vessels, and break into pieces that disrupt healthy blood flow. In other words, my red blood cells don’t function like normal. (I have two brothers who do not have sickle cell anemia.) I experience pain every day. And I hate it — I’ve been up and down because of it. I’ve been in a deep depression and even been diagnosed with severe anxiety because I don’t know when it could hit me. I would be fine one moment and

Every day, I play a guessing game

I

with my body.

the next I could be on the floor in tears. It’s just that serious. I didn’t want to go. I really didn’t. But she made me. She picked me up from NCCU around five and told me she was going to take me home. I had been in pain for more than two weeks at school. But I didn’t tell anyone, because I don’t like people to feel sorry for me. My mom told me I was going to go see my specialist whether I liked it or not. I was in so much pain, but you couldn’t tell it all. I was coolin’ it. I’ve been dealing with this for 18 years. On the outside, I was fine. But on the inside, I was in so much pain, I wanted to die. They checked me in and did the normal routine. Give me a gown, draw blood, take my blood pressure and temperature, ask me a couple questions and be on their way. At that point I knew I was going to stay. It always happens. I’ve even started liking the hospital food, I’ve been in and out of there for so long. It’s a damn shame. I shouldn’t be used to shit like this. It makes me mad. I just want to be normal. They made me stay that night. Every hour on the hour, they gave me more sedatives. I’ve taken oxycodone, percocet, morphine, ibuprofen, the works. I stayed in that hospital bed for almost a week. Then the doctor told me I could stay and they could give me medicine or I could go home and take medicine. I’m trying my best to get back to NCCU, so I decided to go home. One of the worst decisions of my life. That night, I took an oxycodone and went to sleep. I knew I was going to pass out so I wrapped myself in my covers and fell into the deep sleep that is supposed to take my mind off the pain. Not take it away, just knock me out cold so I don’t feel anything.

And then it happened. I woke up in a cold sweat and I couldn’t breathe. I tried to take one deep breath but I couldn’t. It was dark in my room as I grabbed the doorknob and stumbled into the hallway. I was panicking, on the verge of another anxiety attack. I knew what was about to happen. I hit the bathroom, feeling like I was about to hit the floor. And then I passed out. The only reason I woke up is that on the way down I hit my head on the sink. I couldn’t move. I felt like I was going to die. I felt the most excruciating pain in my back as I lay on the floor, stuck. I couldn’t think straight. I couldn’t talk. Instinct told me to bang on the wall, and to keep hitting it until somebody heard me. I hit the wall of my brother’s room. He woke up and found me on the floor in a ball. Surprised to find me on the floor, he ran and called my mom, then called the ambulance. My younger brother came out of his room and asked if I was okay. I couldn’t respond. He sat on the floor and held my head up. He knew I couldn’t talk but he kept talking to me. He didn’t leave my side until it the ambulance came. Then I blacked out again. I remember waking up on a plastic backboard in a neck brace. The ambulance people weren’t sure if I

Shameekia Lewis CHI BROWN/Echo staff photographer

had hurt anything. I tried to lift my arm but I couldn’t. I tried to turn my head but I couldn’t. Yet the pain in my back continued. Have you ever been hit with a metal bat? Have you ever been kicked the shit out of for no reason? Have you ever been perfectly fine and the next minute you can’t even function? Yeah, this is exactly how that felt, times ten. My mom was at my side, asking if I was okay. By that time I could talk but all I could say was, “I just want the pain to go away.” I cried and I cried as it felt like someone was constantly stabbing me in my back with a long knife. I was in tears because of fear. Fear that this sickle cell crisis would take over my body again, like it always does. By this time, I just want to die. Every day, I want to just give up on life. Every day, I play a guessing game with my body. I try my best to stay healthy but

sometimes that’s just not good enough. I remember being in the worst pain of my life. They wouldn’t let me go. I couldn’t do anything but beg them to give me anything that would knock me out. I’d rather be knocked out cold than deal with it. I wouldn’t say I’m addicted to painkillers, but they help me get through life. If you look at me, you can’t tell that I have sickle cell anemia. I’m a pretty girl with ambitions. I like to listen to music and play around with my friends. I am in college studying criminal justice with an applaudable GPA and the ambition of becoming a forensic scientist or a narcotics officer. I love the flowers, the birds and the bees. I listen to Chris Brown, Lil Wayne and Lady Antebellum. They told my mother that there was a slim possibility that I wouldn’t make it to 18 years old. On May 23 at 9:27 p.m., I will be 19 years old. Now run and tell that.


Feature

4 NO

RTH

C

AR OLINA

C

ENTR AL

Campus Echo WEDNESDAY, APRIL 13, 2011

UNI

VER SI T Y

A PHONE CALL CHANGED IT ALL Ariel Hughes was a typical 17-year-old, eager for graduation, planning for college

I

BY CANDISE ROBINSON

t’s a regular day at work — a busy Saturday morning at McDonald’s. “Would you like to add two hashbrowns to your order, Ma’am?” Cash registers continuously opened and closed, hungry customers in their cars wrapped around the drive thru. Me, busy on the speaker taking orders. Then I looked at my phone. I had only been clocked in for two hours and my cell phone had 30 missed calls and 15 unread text messages. I tried to secretly check my phone to see what was going on. I stepped to the employees’ room and my phone rang. “Candise, Candise, sit down. I have some very bad news to tell you.” It was my friend Courtney. “What, what, are you all right? What’s wrong?” I could barely make out what Courtney was saying between her sobbing and stuttering. “Ariel’s dead, she’s died ... this morning in a car accident.” I couldn’t hear anything else, the atmosphere around me was silent. Tears ran. My nose ran all down my face like a little baby. I didn’t know what to do or say. My heart just felt crushed. I had lost a friend I just spoken to the day before. My manager was all the way in the front of the store, yelling. I didn’t care what the consequences were: fire me, write me up, whatever. “Candise, where are you?” Soon a crowd of people and my manager made their way to the employee room. They immediately began asking what was wrong. All I could do was show them the R.I.P. text messages I had received from my friends. I fell into the nearest chair, lying on the table, crying even harder, trying to figure out why this had happened. I had to call someone to drive me back home; driving was the scariest thing on my brain at this point. On Friday, May 14, 2010, at around seven in the evening, I was logged onto Facebook chatting with my friend Ariel Hughes. We were discussing how eager we were to get out

Was I dreaming? Was this a false, crazy rumor? How could I have a conversation with her, then just hours later she’s dead?

of high school. We had already had our senior prom so there was nothing left to look forward to other than graduation. We were also excited at how close we would be to each other once we started college. Ariel was attending the Art Institute of Durham and residing in nearby apartments. I would be going to N.C. Central University in Durham. It just didn’t seem real. How could she be gone? How was this possible? Was I dreaming? Was this a false, crazy rumor? How I could have a conversation with her, then just hours later she’s dead? Ariel Hughes was your typical 17year-old high school senior. Captain of our high school step team, participant in the color guard, a peer tutor for freshmen, she still maintained a part-time job. She was involved not only in school activities but also in our surrounding community. She spent weekends volunteering at the homeless shelter, preparing plates. All this would come to an end around 4:30 a.m. on May 15, when authorities pronounced Ariel Nicole Hughes dead. She died in a car accident on White Oak Road near Garner. Ariel was a passenger in a vehicle driven by one of our schoolmates. The driver, whom I’ll leave nameless, told authorities she had swerved to keep from hitting the deer and instead had hit a tree. The impact of the car crash caused Ariel to die at the scene. The police also said that Ariel wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, which could have helped saved her life. The driver left the scene with a broken hip, a couple of bruises, and a hurt arm. Days later the driver was charged with death by vehicle. Many people wondered what

Candise Robinson CORLISS PAULING/Echo staff photographer

were a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old were doing out at 4:30 in the morning. Her mother, Christina Hughes, told reporters the two went to a step show in Raleigh and afterwards hung out with friends in a nearby parking lot. The accident occurred as the driver was taking Ariel home. My senior year was filled with heartache. In Johnston County, most people are only familiar with the

Carolina Premium Outlets Shopping Center in Smithfield. Johnston County has many secondary roads that have lots of curves and sharp turns. These roads have cost 30 teens their lives since 2006. Johnston County has seen 43 fatal teen car accidents since 2005. Every day it seemed I was informed of another one of our classmates or somebody from our county

dying in car accidents. According to NBC-17 news channel, 1,200 citations were issued near Johnston County high schools. All the deaths, citations, and wrecks caused the county to enforce a mandatory course students must take before they can drive to school. Mandatory seminars also were held at middle and high schools to promote safe driving. I looked at life from a different perspective after Ariel died. I was scared to drive anywhere, even just to run errands down the street. My days after Ariel’s passing were filled with tears. I remaining silent, trying to cope with her being gone. The Monday after Ariel’s death, people were on lockers, desks, against the walls, hugging one another, crying their eyes out. I didn’t want to come to school but I knew I had to so I could graduate and not miss too many days. As soon as I entered my classroom my principal came on the intercom to announce Ariel’s death. I fell on my desk and began crying. My schoolwork was far from my mind. I had never walked into my high school and felt so depressed. It was so weird not seeing Ariel walk past my classroom or yelling, “Hey Candise!” down the hall. At work, school, and home I was as silent as could be. Although Ariel and I weren’t best friends, we were really close, taking several classes together, going to parties and prom. She was a good friend. The funeral was crazy packed. As my boyfriend and I arrived, the line from the church was at least a block long and cars were parked everywhere. Entering the church, I fell on the ground seeing her body lying in the coffin; she had had an amazing future ahead. Cherish each day; tomorrow is never promised. Never play behind the wheel and always, always wear a seatbelt. Don’t holding grudges or argue with your friends. Ariel’s death still replays in my mind. I get quiet when death and car accidents are brought up. When I pass by the Art Institute while on the city bus I try to hold back tears. I know she is in a better place now.

LIFE AS ‘BLACK FORREST GUMP’ Breaking free of taunts about bow legs and leg braces brings self-discovery BY MICHAEL GARRIS

W

ith these dreadful words my daddy woke me out of my last day of summer: “Doeboy! Get up, boy, you have to get ready for school.” I lay in bed trying to savor my last minutes by pretending that I did not hear him. Forcing myself out of bed, I looked at my legs and at the metal braces in the corner and shook my head. This was going to be one of the worst first days of school I would ever have, and probably one of the worst school years I would ever encounter. In school I always felt that I was different than the other children. I would see those children walking and wonder, “Why does my body have to be retarded? Why can’t I have normal legs like everyone else?” As I went through my day I would constantly be stared at and talked about. Having leg braces made me feel like I wasn’t the same as everyone else. It seemed my condition had the world’s strongest grasp on my selfesteem. To top things off, the gazes of other people caused me to feel even more insecure. How great was that? Those “normal” people would make insults about my legs such as: “Look at that boy’s legs — you can drive a train though them they are so bowed.” Or, “Doeboy boy put your legs back together,” trying to be funny. I hated going out in public. Eventually, to help fix my bow legs, I had to have big metal braces placed on my legs, which made me look like the black Forrest Gump. I just knew they were going to cause me even more humiliation. Having braces on my legs was not

“Left, right, left, right,” were the words going through my head as I walked down the narrow hallway at school, trying my best to keep my mind off what others were thinking.

easy by any means, I had to basically learn how to walk again. “Left, right, left, right” were the words going through my head as I walked down the narrow hallway at school, trying my best to keep my mind off what others were thinking. Every time I would take a step I would hear those braces singing, “cling, cling, cling, cling.” To me they sounded like a band playing louder and louder as I went down the hall, trying to be strong for myself. Every day began to seem same day with those braces on my legs, and this caused me to become more comfortable. As the school year progressed many of the children in my class started to overlook my leg braces and to see just me, not some metal I had around my legs. As I adjusted to the braces, I started not caring what others thought of me. I came to realize that I was not different, I was merely unique. Having adjusted to the braces made me feel confident. Whereas before I walked down the hall with my head tilted low and heard that loud “cling, cling, cling, cling,” now I cruised down the hall with my head high, smiling and instead of cling, cling, cling, cling noise I heard a sweet swoosh, swoosh, swoosh. Those cruel jokes gave me the motivation to succeed. Those words didn’t threaten me anymore. After all the long days of being laughed at, talked about and stared at, the best day came when I got rid of my

braces for good. I truly felt like the other students then. After the braces were taken off in a sense I felt naked, like I was missing a part of me. Those braces gave me the confidence that I needed because for so long I had let others mentally control my life. I would let those words they spit at me get to me, and it made me feel lower than a bug. I now know that those words allowed me to improve myself. My uniqueness brought me the confidence I needed. Being with leg braces taught me that no matter what you look like on the outside, it’s what’s inside that really matters most. I started off as a shy child with legs as wide as the Pacific Ocean. When we are younger, the smallest of things in life may seem like the biggest issues we will ever face, but those so-called big issues will give you more strength to surpass any obstacle. In my case, the braces gave me the power to break free of the hand that gripped my self-esteem. If it weren’t for my leg braces I would probably still be that shy boy walking around feeling lower than a bug crawling on the side of a curve. I wasn’t just any little bug — I see myself as a caterpillar. I started off crawling across the ground, but when the time was just right I began the slow process of metamorphosis. I turned into a cocoon and waited to break out into a beautiful butterfly ready to fly high and be seen. With that feeling I know that I

Shyron Garris CHI BROWN/Echo staff photographer

can accomplish anything, instead of failing just because of a few words that meant nothing to me. I often remind myself that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I am here to say that you should never let words or people get you down because at the end of the day,

words are just words and you cannot allow people who try to hurt you to succeed. So a reminder to everyone who may be getting put down now: you one day you to will turn into a butterfly and that’s when all eyes will be on you, spreading your wings and flying high, not caring what anyone else thinks of you.


Feature

Campus Echo WEDNESDAY, APRIL 13, 2011

N

ORTH

C

AR OLINA

C

ENTR AL

5 UNI

VER SI T Y

A HIGH SCHOOL REBEL RECANTS After years of As in academics and Fs in conduct, a rebel decides enough is enough BY QUIANA CAPERS

A

s I take one step through the door a black buckle awaits for me. Oooch, ooch! I scream louder and louder. The pain tingles through my body. He continues to hit me until my eyes are red and full of tears. I cry and say, “I’ll never do it again.” My heart is beating fast; I’d say anything to stop the pain. My father screams, “I am tired of this. You have got to do right!” I just look up at him like a helpless puppy. A belt against my body was the worst feeling a child could bear. I had gotten in trouble for arguing with my teacher again. I guess a beating was necessary for an average little girl, but I wasn’t your average child. I had been told from the time I was born that I was always doing something bad. They told me, “When you were little you were the baddest little girl. You would pull the baby”s arm out of socket, fight, bite, and kick.” I continued these traits into grammar school. In second grade I would disrupt the kids and argue with the teachers. They recommended to my father that I get on a drug called Ritalin. My father didn’t think it was necessary because he knew I was a smart child. It wasn’t my grades that allowed school to become challenging, it was my gruesome attitude. My blood pumping and my mouth running is what got me in trouble. I would tell my teacher what to do instead of her telling me. She had a smart mouth and I had a smarter one, coming right for her. One day she

scolded me saying, “Quiana, you really need to shut up!” Picture a little girl the size of a pencil telling the teacher, “No, actually you can shut up, dummy!” Yup, that was me always. I thought I had every right to demand a teacher to shut up if she suggested it to me first. My body raged when people would yell or tell me what to do. I would lash out, become uncontrollable. My parents weren’t there to defend me, so I defended myself. What was wrong with disrespecting someone who disrespected me? I grew up pretty decently with a caring mother and father who did well financially, even though both only had high school educations. I was taught that in order to get respect you have to give respect. I apparently took this to the extreme. Every day I was in the principal’s office. My name would be called on the loudspeaker for various incidents. My attitude stunk and every faculty member in school knew that. I didn’t care; this was a natural routine for me. My reputation followed me through school. The teachers knew I had an attitude and they would do anything to provoke me. Mrs. Guarneri, a teacher who had it in for me. She got me expelled for the entire school year. There I was in seventh grade, lined up like a good young lady. I was on my way to her class and she had a nerve to close the door right in my face. I had to knock on the door to get in. How embarrassing is that? No teacher got away with embarrassing Ms. Capers. I was furious, but I tried my hardest not to display it.

Deep inside I felt everybody hated me, even my own parents. How could love be so mean? Why did I blank out and lose control?

Quiana Capers NEKA JONES/Echo staff photographer

I returned to homeroom, but Mrs. Guarneri burst through the door demanding my parental information. I sarcastically mocked her and shouted out my telephone number. She was angry, but I knew nothing was worse to a teacher than getting embarrassed in front of an entire class. She yelled, “Go to the principal’s office.” I chuckled and slammed the door right in her face. The vice principal tried to tell me to go to in-school suspension for the remainder of the day to calm down. I refused. I didn’t think I deserved to be punished for

something I didn’t do. He said, “You can go to inschool suspension or leave for the entire school year.” I refused again and they expelled me. Luckily, only two weeks of school remained. When I got home my father beat me again and threatened to send me to boot camp. I cried so much my head hurt. I sat in my room and prayed to God to help me. I knew I had a problem and school wasn’t the only place trouble followed me. I mean, what was it? I made straight As in aca-

demics, but in self-control I always received Fs. I had been to all the anger management counselors at my school. They didn’t work; I only loved going to get snacks and miss class. I had been to the Scared Straight program, in which troubled kids to visit a jail. I thought it was a funny trip because jail was the last thing on my mind. I mean, how could a smart kid like me end up in jail? It all changed the day I found out my house was for sale and I was headed to North Carolina to live. My parents must have lost their

minds if they thought I was going south. How could I leave my family and friends? Paterson, N.J. was all I had ever known. I hit the streets hard and turned to anything. I became my parents’ problem child. I was running the streets at 13 and coming in 6:00 a.m. I was fighting females and hanging with the wrong crowd. I would disrespect both of my parents, after all they had done for me. I knew I was wrong, but every time my mom or dad said anything I didn’t like, it was a wrap. Slamming doors and tuning them out was a daily routine. My mom would say, “Quiana, you’re the worst child in America and I hope one day you realize you have one set of parents and once we are dead this is what I will remember you by.” Deep inside I felt everybody hated me, even my own parents. How could love be so mean? Why did I blank out and lose control? I didn’t know the answers, so I kept lashing out. Eventually, I found myself downtown in the juvenile facility with a smirk on my face. My father came to get me out. Two days later I was on my way to Charlotte. This was the worst day of my life. I had a plan to make my parents’ lives a living hell all over again. I had to start all over in a high school I hated. I walked to my first class and sat there without saying a word. I just thought if I was quiet then I wouldn’t get into any trouble. That didn’t last long. My teacher said, “Honey, you don’t know much, so I suggest you shut up.” Who was this awkward

n See QUIANA CAPERS Page 6

Jessica Martin CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 Mazda 626 and drove down Peterscreek Parkway to his apartment complex. I walked slowly to the front door, somewhat anxious about being at his apartment that late but hey, it was for band, so I didn’t mind. He opened the door with a smile. He had tried to have me come over before; I guess he was just happy to see me. The YouTube videos only lasted a few minutes. Eventually we sat on the couch and talked about school, band, and the rest of our season. I don’t know what came over me but I had the urge to tell him how I felt. After knowing him for two years I was comfortable enough to say that I thought he was attractive. James Smith* was fresh out of college. At 24, he had the charisma of someone our age but his maturity and intensity compensated for his young face and body. I think it was the way his eyelashes curled up. Or his musical virtuosity , or the way he wore polo shirts tucked into his sweat pants. The words slipped out so easy, as if I had planned it. “How would you feel if I kissed you?” I asked. His head was resting on my thigh while we watched television. The way I looked down at him made me feel if I had some control. I found it sexy and I wanted to continue, just test the limits. He made a comment about my age (I was 17 at the time), but he never said no. I leaned forward and touched his lips with mine. It was as if he had wanted me as bad as I had him that entire year. He leaped up, and I was on my back kissing a man 7 years older than me. My long legs wrapped around his tiny waist as he grabbed my breasts and

I drove home wide-eyed and full of energy. Who in their right mind would ever believe I had almost had sex with our band director?

Jessica Martin CORLISS PAULING/Echo staff photographer

devoured them. I couldn’t believe this was happening. It was so wrong but it felt too damn good. Then I looked at the time. “Fuck!” My dad was going to kill me if I come home late. I told him I had to go home, jumped up, pulled my bra back on and walked out of the apartment. I drove home wide-eyed and full of energy. Who in

their right mind would ever believe that I had almost had sex with our band director? The first time I spotted him was right before ninth grade, when he came to help at our band camp. His dark skin and 5’6” frame didn’t really catch my eye (especially since I’m 5’10”). Junior year this mystery man came into the picture again as our new band direc-

tor. He walked into the room and demanded attention. My best friend thought he was fine; I couldn’t see it. That year he taught us discipline and pride. His love for music and his demeanor became eye-catching and even attractive, but I didn’t act on it. At Basic High School I spent every day with my best friends. We played sports together, we marched to together, we smoked and skipped school together. I never would have thought we would be sleeping with the same man together too. When Smith came to Parkland my junior year, my best friend Shayna* would always say how cute she thought Smith was. You all know how girls are — we see a guy we both think is fine and we talk and joke about it. All talk. Over the time that Smith was at BHS, my best friends and I became his friends. We were like a crew. Everyone else in the band was jealous. Who else was able to joke and talk shit to Smith like us? Who else could go chill with him at his house? Who else could go get drunk with him? Senior year it all took a turn for the worst. I started noticing Smith spending time with Shayna a little more than the rest of us. She would sit in his front seat and answer his phone. He would spend time with her and her family. He was close to her mom, almost as if they were one big happy family. But I never thought he and Shayna had anything going on. I think back to the first time Smith and I spent time alone. We were texting and he suggested I come watch some FAMU drum major clips with him. That night was the first of many that I spent with him alone. As my friendship with Shayna and the rest of the

crew died out, my relationship with Smith seemed to get stronger. He denied every rumor that he and Shayna had anything going on, and because I was so caught up with the idea of having sex with a grown man I let it go. We began spending every day together. After class I was the chick in his front seat sneaking out of the campus parking lot. Before I knew it a year had passed and the relationship I developed with this man became more than just lust. We had sex every day. I began spending the night with him, skipping school, lying to my friends and family just to keep this whirlwind romance a secret. The first time I got caught with Smith, we had spent the evening watching “our” favorite show and eating Cookout. We pulled up in front of my house acting as if it were normal that my teacher was dropping me off. We didn’t realize that my dad was sitting in the basement with the lights off, waiting for me to come in. I saw Daddy’s 6’4” frame walking across the driveway. I froze. How would I explain? “Go inside,” Daddy said. After that, Smith made sure to drop me off at the top of the hill near my house. My stories were always perfect: “Oh, I have late band practice.” Or my favorite, “Daddy, I was with Davaun.” He was my best friend so I knew I could put some lies off on him. My mom hasn’t had anything to do with me since middle school. She sleeps in the back room alone, ignoring the family, so I knew if I came in late she would never say anything. My daddy always worked late so I worked my sex schedule around his work schedule. If Dad got in from his first job

at 6, I would still be at practice. He was asleep before I got home because he had to be at his second job by 2:30 a.m. He would leave for work never realizing I wasn’t home. Between the end of senior year and the beginning of freshman year at college it all came out. After falling in love with this man and almost becoming his sexual guinea pig, I was hit with the truth. Smith and Shayna had been a couple the entire time. One night I asked Smith about his relationship with Shayna. He had always denied it; that night he told me they had had sex. I remember finding the Valentine’s card she got him, or their text messages. I’ll never forget the night I found a used condom under the bed. “It was left there from the last time we had sex,” he told me. How could I have been so stupid to not realize that we were fighting for the affection of the same man? How could I have been stupid enough to continue when the truth came out? I guess after Shayna and I fell out, I was able to be alone with Smith like I’d always wanted, but when I wasn’t with him she was. He eventually told her the truth about us, she still doesn’t know about the abortion. His bitch ass was probably too scared to admit that part. You’re probably wondering what was going through my mind at 17. How could I let something like that happen? I think I needed the attention. Maybe it’s the “middle child syndrome” or growing up with a mentally abusive mother. I always felt alone at home. I was constantly fighting with my mom. Her favorite saying was, “You just like ya damn sister!”

n See JESSICA MARTIN Page 6


Feature

6 N

ORTH

C

AROLINA

C

ENTR AL

Campus Echo WEDNESDAY, APRIL 13, 2011

UNI

VER SI T Y

A GIRL’S HERO TURNS TO DRUGS Her perfect world comes crashing down when she discovers her dad is a cocaine addict BY SHATIRA SIMPSON

S

itting in the room with the man I loved the most, I wondered why he had lain curled up for three days. I knew he would come around soon. I asked him was there anything I could do to make him feel better. He asked if I could make his medicine for him. I said, “Of course,” and he handed me a razor. He told me to chop back and forth through the powdery substance for two minutes. Years later, I found out that the powdery substance I had played with at age 7 was cocaine. My perfect world came crashing down when I found out that my daddy was addicted to cocaine and had been for years. Never in a million years would I have thought this would happen to me. My daddy was a perfect man in my eyes. Yes, he had days when he was falling asleep behind the wheel, but I always thought it was because he worked late nights. I will never forget how he left my mom and me in Disney World. We had gone there for a week as a family to celebrate my tenth birthday. I was so happy to have my mom and dad with me. My dad left us in Disney World Thursday night because of a “stomach virus” he was having. I cried so hard because I could not understand how he could leave, knowing how much his presence mattered. Besides, I was terrified of flying, and my dad was the only person who made me feel safe. Sunday morning rolled around and it was time to leave Disney World. I cried the entire flight, screaming, “I want my daddy!” My mom tried to calm me down, but I only wanted to see my dad. I had lived with my dad since I was 4. I told my mom that I would rather live with my father, not imaging he could ever betray me. My father was once a good man. At one point, he had himself together. He would take me and my friends to “Jeepers,” a place like

My dad left us in Disney World ... because of a “stomach virus” he was having. ... I could not understand how he could leave, knowing how much his presence mattered. Chuckie Cheese for older kids. We would order all the pizza we wanted and he would gladly pick up the check. Anything to satisfy his baby girl. Other times, we would sit up all night watching “WWE Raw,” rooting for our favorite wrestlers. Everything went downhill when he began messing with Missy. I will never forget this bitch. I believe she is the reason my dad is so far gone on cocaine. When she came along, I was just about to start middle school. I began to notice things I had never noticed before: how he nodded off just about every night as we drove to pick up my grandmother from work. Before, when he was nodding off while driving, he would laugh as if it was a joke. I am not sure if things became clear to me because I was older or if he just became so careless that I couldn’t help but notice. Before Missy, my dad was freespirited. It was rare for him to be caught doing nothing. He would run up and down the street with me. He sprayed me and my friends with the hose during the summer days and was like a neighborhood dad to everyone. He and my mom even got along during this time. They broke up shortly after we came back from Disney World. My mom could not deal with his lifestyle and had finally had enough. She had always known he was on drugs, but stayed with him because she wanted a better life for me. I guess things just took a toll and she could no longer stand to look at my father. She moved into her own apartment — but she was always there for me when I needed her. And my mom and dad remained friends for

Shatira Simpson NEKA JONES/ Echo staff photographer

my sake. However, when Missy came along, things changed. His money started disappearing. He began to spend more time with Missy and less time with me. I started asking why he was so tired all the time and what exactly was wrong with his stomach. This is when the idea that he was doing drugs first entered my mind. Missy acted the same way he was. I wasn’t a dumb girl and I had been exposed to the streets, so I knew how a drug addict acted. My cousin was on drugs as well and my dad used to talk about him all the time, saying he needed to get himself together and get clean. I always thought in the back of my mind that he was on drugs but I never came out and asked him. When I asked my mom, she gave me a weird look and said, “Why did you ask that?” I said “Never mind,” and left the subject alone. I watched my dad closely as the years passed. Just before my junior year, I returned from a week-

end at my mom’s house. As I unpacked, I noticed something on my bed. An empty vial. The kind cocaine comes in. Anger, disgust, disbelief, betrayal, hurt was all I felt. I knew that my worst nightmare had come true. I called my mom, crying hysterically. I begged her to please come pick me up. I grabbed some clothes and the empty vial and threw it all in my bag. When I got in the car, I showed my mom; she held me as I cried my eyes and heart out. After that day, I never returned to my dad’s house. My aunt and cousins said they had tried to get my dad help multiple times. He was in denial and did not want help from anyone. I started school in the fall with my mind all fucked up. Feeling betrayed and angry, I started skipping school and doing my own thing. I began drinking more and even smoking. I felt lost in the world.

When I confronted my dad about the situation, to my surprise he lashed out me. He called me a liar and said that I had betrayed him when I left. I did not argue. My grandmother was angry that I had told the family about my dad. I didn’t care, though. I was hurt and I wanted him to feel that pain. My grades dropped drastically in eleventh grade. I stopped doing work and stopped caring. Eventually, when I saw that my actions did not make me any better than my problems, I got myself together. I begin talking about my situation and to my surprise many of my friends reached out to me. I even found out that they had cousins, brothers, and even mothers who were on drugs. They assured me that everything was gonna be okay and that I had to make myself proud and do what was best for me. They told me not to shut people out of my life who were trying to help me. I stopped drinking and smoking, and attended school on the regular. I even picking my weight back up and started to feel human again. My senior year in high school, I pulled a 3.85 GPA and got numerous scholarships. To me it was a slap in the face to my father. It was as if I was saying, Dad I do not need you to make something of my life. I am going to be something despite the odds against me. I had thought my acting out would make him want to change, but it didn’t. I am proud of myself for overcoming this challenge. I want my peers to know that you do not have to let your challenges defeat you. You have to fight to become bigger than your problem. To this day my relationship with my dad is not the same. Every time I talk to him, I feel I am living a lie. I cannot talk to him until he admits to me that he has a problem and that he needs help. I would do anything for him but he has to want it for himself.

Quiana Capers CONTINUED FROM PAGE 5 lady talking to? I cursed her out. Then I told her to kindly shut up. I maneuvered to the remainder of my classes. Spanish was fun but my teacher was crazy. She didn’t want anyone to talk in class, but I laughed, talked, and made funny gestures behind her back. The next day I was pulled out of class by a resource officer. I remember her exact words: “Just listen and don’t talk back.” I looked at her, puzzled — I had no idea what d-court was. There I was, face to face with administration. My teachers had written me up,

and they hadn’t even told me. They read off the list of my transgressions: cursing out the teacher, disruption, laughing, talking, and being out of control. I sat there not paying attention. My punishment ended with anger management counseling. I couldn’t return to school without a conference. To me, the whole thing was a joke. I returned home with the exciting news. At this point, my parents had stopped with the lectures and beatings. I returned to school for a meeting with my parents, counselor and teacher. The problem was resolved

when I gave the fakest apology. I would have said anything to shut these people up. Sitting on the bed at home, I realized all the wrong I had done in my life. I made a list: I had been expelled from school, locked up for fighting, and cursed out all my teachers. I know people thought I had been raised wrong, but I had made these bad decisions myself. My parents spoiled me and I still continued to do them wrong. My mother came to my room, her body tensed and her eyes puffy. “Quiana, I love you, but this time

in life you have got to change. You are an intelligent and beautiful young lady,” she said sadly. Even though I heard these exact words a thousand times, this time I listened ten times harder. She prayed, “Dear Lord, please bless these demons out of my daughter and get her right before she ends up in jail.” I closed my eyes and a powerful feeling I had never felt in my life hit me. I felt a change. I knew it was time for this bad behavior to end. I told myself the daily changes I would make. Positive influence and

pep talks would get me through it. The best days of my life happened after that day when I decided to give up all the wrong and finally do right. I thank God and my family; if it weren’t for them I don’t know where I’d be today. I was given chances and now I am in college, accomplishing all my goals. Trouble creeps up on me every now and then, but now I always think about my future before I let my actions take control.

a teacher and having an abortion. Today I don’t speak to either of them. They are still together. I guess I was just a easy lay when it comes down to it. A lot of girls can talk the talk, but we all have to be

aware of that guilty walk that comes with the territory. * These names have been changed to preserve anonymity.

When my grandfather saw me, he was furious. He asked why I wasn’t in school and I told him my mom said I didn’t have to go. He told me to get out of his face and that he wouldn’t get me shit for my birthday. I was distraught. I ran to my grandmother in tears. But she didn’t remember it was my birthday again. On the way home, my mom called my father and handed me the phone. He kept asking why I was being a punk. I felt he was being ignorant so I hung up. I don’t know how the day could get any worse — but it did. When we got to the store, because I was acting out, my mom would only buy me a piece of cake. I cried even harder. I hadn’t gotten my cell phone, my meal, or my

birthday cake. Later that night my dad came by to take me to dinner. Seeing that he wasn’t always around growing up, he owed it to me. That night I kept saying it was the worst birthday ever and that I hated my family. Maybe I overreacted. Looking back, I’m glad everything happened the way that it did. I learned that you don’t always get everything you want, that being a baby doesn’t get you anywhere, and that school is important. I grew up that day, and I’m thankful. Sometimes I wonder what would’ve happened if I had gone to school that day. Considering the lessons learned, I have to say it was the best birthday ever.

Jessica Martin CONTINUED FROM PAGE 5 My dad was no help either. He always had time for my sister’s games and competitions, or to become president of my brother’s football team. But when it came to my performances, he had to work or

was too tired. Never having someone to express my feelings to, being under my teacher was a release from my other problems. At the end of the day, I would be with Smith, and that was

my cure from the other bull that was hammered into my mind every day. Now, in my junior year at NCCU, I am still scarred by the experience. I lost my only friends and abused and embarrassed myself by sleeping with

Dreyvon MCLendon CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 She said 13 can be a bad number. I wasn’t sure what she meant. I didn’t pay her much attention because she always says some crazy things. I told her I had been alive for a long time already. She laughed hysterically and told me I was too young to know what a long time felt like. I guess she was right, considering that being 5 felt like yesterday. I asked my grandfather if he knew my birthday was the next day. I was almost sure that he would have something good for me because all my life he has provided for me, even when my mother and father weren’t there for me. I had been asking for a cell phone since Christmas. When I brought up a cell phone, he replied, “We’ll see.” Nine times out of ten, “We’ll see” means yes because my grandfather

is a sucker when it comes to his family. He did guarantee me a birthday dinner, though. For as long as I can remember my grandfather has been cooking up a storm in the kitchen. He’s the reason I know how to cook and one of the many reasons I love him. My birthday couldn’t come any faster. I knew it would be the best birthday ever. That night, my brother asked why I was going to school on my birthday. My mom said that she didn’t care whether I went or not. She never did care — we just went so we would do well. Now that I didn’t have to go to school, my birthday would be perfect. I could sleep in, get birthday gifts and wishes, a special meal and birthday cake. I don’t know how I

could forget the cake. Without a cake, a birthday is just another day. My mom said we’d get it first thing the next day. I woke up to my brothers getting ready for school and wishing me a happy birthday. It felt some kind of great to hit the snooze button that morning. Once I woke back up, the first thing on my mind was my birthday cake. I went to wake my mom up but she didn’t budge. She woke up two hours later and took forever to get dressed. She was really pissing me off. I don’t know why I was surprised, though, because my mom often has this I don’t care/self-centered attitude, which is why we rarely get along. When we finally left, we didn’t go to the store — we went to my grandparents.’

In the First Person - April 2011  
In the First Person - April 2011  

campus echo, nccu

Advertisement