This student describes her sense of alienation and fear from living in the projects. She explains that she always knew she was poor and would probably never escape her environment of constant violence. She finds the idea of college terrifying, since her family barely has the money to survive and she doesn’t know anyone else from the “hood” who went to college.
Because of the lack of role models in her life, this student has lacked knowledge about how she could possibly escape her dangerous environment. As a result, the very idea of leaving the projects is scary for her, since it equates with entering an entirely new, unknown world.
When she meets Cheryl Best, these thoughts change drastically. This woman, who also grew up in the projects, decided that she wanted to leave this negative environment. She survived a terrible experience: being kidnapped, raped, and left to die in the desert with acid poured all over her body. Instead of letting herself die, she realized that there were still many things she wanted to achieve in life and forced herself to walk toward the highway, where she was finally rescued.
This woman’s story is particularly impactful because of the uncommonly horrific experiences she has undergone and, at the same time, because of her extraordinary motivation to survive and believe in herself. This woman’s success in overcoming tremendous obstacles serves as inspiration to this student, demonstrating that a single positive example can make a huge difference in young people’s lives.
After surviving this ordeal, Cheryl went to college, where she graduated with honors. This student feels deeply inspired by Cheryl’s courage and, after hearing her story, knows that she too can go to college, trust in herself, and not give up on her future.
Cheryl not only survived, but also pushed herself to make the best of her life and succeed academically. This makes the prospect of college less frightening for this student, who finds comfort in knowing that someone else has already gone through this experience.