Good afternoon. It is an honor to be here. My name is Denise Nicole, and my four-year-old son, Kingston, and I just joined the Family Connections Program.
I am here on behalf of all the new and returning student parents and their families to thank you for believing in us and our children.
My journey has been filled with hardships that could have impacted my life in a negative way. There have been hurdles and obstacles that could have stopped me in my tracks. But I have persevered and stayed true to my path because I am worth fighting for!
During my senior year in high school, my mother passed away unexpectedly from diabetes. Two months later, I found out I was pregnant. I instantly went from the baby of the family to the head of my own household. My two older brothers were already out of the house and my father went into a deep depression and went his own way.
I was scared. Scared to be another statistic. So, I educated myself on parenting resources and took all of the available parenting classes. I continue to strive to be the best mother and role model for my children and my community.
I was an active, and engaged high school student, who happened to be pregnant. Teachers and community leaders told me that I wouldn’t attend college. I could have listened to the naysayers. But I didn’t.
I choose to hold on to one teacher’s voice, Pamela Dykstra my homeroom teacher, she planted seeds of hope within me.
She told me she believed in me and one day I would make it into Harvard if I choose too.
Her seeds of hope sprinkled with my mother’s unconditional love have inspired me to do many great things. Becoming a mother to a beautiful daughter and son, go to college, and go after the career that I desire and deserve. This past year, I completed the Race, Equity and Leadership in school’s professional development training at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. This achievement reinforced my commitment to my goal of creating a nonprofit leadership academy for young adults to become inspirational influencers in their own communities. I am going to name my nonprofit after my daughter, Charizma.
Currently, I work full-time and will be going to school full-time. The budget-breaking cost of childcare almost crushed my dreams of finishing college, but your support today will help me graduate with a bachelor’s degree, create more job security, and it will give my son a boost by getting him ready to attend kindergarten in a year.
My son just started his Pre-K program a few days ago at the local Y and the preschool tuition assistance that Goodwin Connections provides will be a game-changer for our family.
I am looking forward to us all being in school at the same time. I picture us at the kitchen table, my son printing his name over and over again, my daughter doing her biology homework, and me editing a paper I have to turn in the next day. It’s going to be a great year.
For some of you, your school days probably seem long ago and far away. But there are several people here today, just like me, who are starting a fresh school year right now! To the donors who have made this program strong for so many years, I would just like to say: we are so thankful for your support.