• Hearing: The unheard voices of multicultural children that struggle mentally.
• Water 2 Spirit , gives rise to critical thinking and influence positive behavior(s)for
professionals to improve the lives of diverse children with mental health challenges.
Growing up, I lived with my mother, a single parent, who had not had a childhood. She was a teenage mom and was in an abusive relationship with my dad. When she left him, she started to live the life she never had. My mother began to party and drink excessively. Unfortunately, the unresolved problems from her past were projected on me from the time I was very young.
I believed I was of no value to anyone, which left me with low self-esteem and vulnerability to people who exploited my innocence. Sexual abuse left me confused and empty inside. At age 9 after years of constant abuse, I was sent with my sister to foster care where I learned that I needed to be tough. My sister had a disability that made her an easy target for physical abuse by the other children so I felt I had to protect her.
In foster care, I was separated from my sister and never in any particular school for more than a month. This instability left me feeling unwanted everywhere I was placed. As time went by, I slowly began falling through cracks in the educational system. One day in high school a teacher told me, “You’re not the smartest out of the bunch, but you’re a strong person.” I would think to myself, what made her say that remark to me with such confidence? I decided from that point on I had a choice: to continue to hurt and to follow my mother’s path, expecting the hurt in her life, or to start my healing process. I began to go to counseling and realized that the horrible childhood I had was not my fault, and that learning to love myself with all my flaws was a priority, along with taking charge of my life. I began to stay after school with the teacher who had made the remark about my intelligence and strength.
After graduating from college, I soon realized that I had other obstacles to conquer. I was diagnosed with PTSD, a consequence of the aforementioned sexual abuse. That began a regimen of intensive and painful therapy, powerful medicine, and self-examination. But having committed myself to overcome all obstacles, I could not be idle and take the situation lying down. I decided that even in my suffering I could help myself and others.
I am now engaged in converting the pain of the past into lessons that I can share with people in a myriad of creative ways for the good of myself and society and one of those paths is to speak and consult on those grappling with the problems that I have and that we all grapple with so that we can change the world for the better.
I built a strong relationship with her, realizing that her comment was her way of pushing me to see my potential. I learned that I could overcome adversity; I learned more independence. I could rely on myself, even if I had no one else. I began to reach out to other people at the high school and in the community, who could help me prepare for college. I realized that I had value and began to identify with what I could bring to this world, once the positive people who were in my circle helped me find my confidence.
After graduating from high school, I stepped onto the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s campus as a first-generation college student who has the power to be a successful, intelligent, young woman. Since then I became a part of the two percent of college students who study abroad. I have studied abroad in Spain and Argentina and I am thankful to those who did not give up on me.