“I visualize where I want to be in five years and ask myself, ‘What steps can I take to get closer to my goals?’”
Music is everything to me. In sixth grade, I joined my school's chorus. I couldn't sing all the songs because of my religious background, so I couldn’t continue. That discouraged me musically, but my mom suggested I try band. Although I was worried I wouldn't fit in there either, I chose the trumpet. I'll be the first to say it: I was really bad!
It took more than a year of hard work to become good at playing the trumpet, but that one instrument catapulted my passion for music. Today, I also play the piano, saxophone and drums — and I'm 100% self-taught. I even write and compose music.
Like many young people, I didn't have an easy life growing up. Experiencing hardship early on caused me to struggle with my mental health. As a child, I couldn't express my feelings. That turned into anxiety and anger and depression as a teen. Music helped me cope, but I always knew I needed more.
Boys and Girls Clubs of St. Lucie County played a crucial role in me finally coming to terms with my issues so I could become the best version of myself. I started treatment in 2019 and dug deep into how my mental health impacted me and those around me. Being at the Club gave me a foundation to stand on and the strength to move forward — especially because I had the support of my mentor, Ms. Rasheedah.
I'll never forget Ms. Rasheedah’s first day at the Club. She asked us: "Does anyone here know how to sing?" Then she started singing. Her voice was amazing. Even though I didn't speak up to say I could sing, I felt an immediate connection to Ms. Rasheedah because she loved music like me.
The day my father passed away, I didn't want to go home because I knew I'd have to assume the responsibility of my household as just a teenager. Usually, I would keep to myself, but I felt compelled to share the news with Ms. Rasheedah. She sat with me in the office and listened. She even bought me dinner. She showed me something I had been missing my entire life: individual attention. Interest in me as a person. The kind of compassion that says, "I don't know you, but I still love you and care for you."
Not only did Ms. Rasheedah care about me during that difficult time, she kept caring about me. She helped me with Youth of the Year, applying for jobs and many other things.
As I prepare to graduate from high school, it hasn’t always been easy to stay motivated. I visualize where I want to be in five years. I ask myself, "What steps can I take to get closer to my goals?" Thankfully, I have my Club and Ms. Rasheedah to give me that extra push beyond my comfort zone.
If I could give advice to other young people, I would say don't be afraid to put in the hard work or mess up. Sometimes it's scary to put yourself out there, but I haven't let challenges get in my way of pursuing a scholarship to college to study music education. I'm looking forward to passing along my love of music to the next generation.
Two years ago, the quiet kid who didn't speak up the day Ms. Rasheedah asked if any of us knew how to sing would've never dreamed she'd be going to college to turn her passion for music into a lifelong career. But now, I'm living proof that dreams have no limits — especially when you have the right people to back you up.
Did you know that 11.3 million kids and teens don’t have a safe place to go after school? Your donation to Boys & Girls Clubs of America will give more youth like Essence a safe and caring environment, positive adult influences and the life-changing experiences necessary to become anything they can dream — because dreams have no limits when kids have Clubs.