“At Providence St. Mel we believe. We believe in a creation of inspired lives produced by the miracle of hard work. We are not frightened by the challenges of reality, but believe that we can change our conception of this world and our place within it. So we work, plan, build, and dream in that order. We believe that one must earn a right to dream. Our talent, discipline, and integrity will be our contribution to a new world because we believe that we can take this place, this time and this people to make a better place, a better time and a better people. With God’s help we will either find a way or make one.”

The above mission statement was recited every morning by every first through twelfth grade student at the school that altered my destiny: Providence St. Mel. A predominately African-American private school located on the West Side of Chicago, Providence St. Mel produced successful, productive citizens counterintuitive to the drug and gang-infested environment of continual low expectations. With an environment rich with administration and teacher support, after school academic and sports clubs, summer exposure activities, and extremely high expectations, I was molded into a well-rounded, diligent, internationally-driven, compassionate intellectual.

Without a doubt, Providence St. Mel was truly God-sent for it is responsible for all of my successes and where I am today: in Japan teaching English in Shibukawa Public schools. The altering of my life started when I became a fourth grade student at Providence St. Mel. For about eight years, St. Mel has instilled in me a powerful work ethic that disseminates in the classroom and my work environment, of which no one can take away from me. This work ethic has allowed me to attend Tufts University, from 2003-2007, on a full academic Tufts and Pritzker scholarship. At Tufts University as an Economics and Math major, I was able to study abroad in Hong Kong, which sparked my fascination and yearning to learn more about Asian studies. This was not however, the beginning of my international quest of which Providence St. Mel is responsible for. My quest began through St. Mel’s “S.O.A.L Program.” Through this program I was able to attend The University of Dayton Ohio’s engineering program, Georgetown University’s Junior Statesman program and Academic program, and Oxford University in London. Attending Oxford University, as a 16-year-old, was my first time traveling outside of the United States; this served as a major brink in my life.

At this point, I gained the yearning to become an educator and an internationally-driven young woman. I also became aware of the power of exposure. From this, I understood my purpose in life: to educate as I have been educated and to give children purpose and exposure to domestic and international opportunities. As a result, upon graduating from Tufts, I taught 8th grade Mathematics and Writing in the Chicago Public School system for two years, assisted in youth community projects and church-related youth programs, and I am currently teaching in the Japanese Public School system. In the near future, I hope to create avenues to educate children academically, socially, and internationally through non-profit organizations and community programs.

My mind cannot even conceive where I would be, as a 24-year-old, if Providence St. Mel did not exist as it did in my life. This effect affects the world and I am extremely grateful for the greatest gift that Providence St. Mel has given me: the ability to reciprocate and educate as I have been educated.
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