Insight from Shaunea Brown – Lean In


With exams approaching, I always find myself trying to find the motivation to continue with the same passion and aggression from week 1 of my studies. It’s hard to stay motivated because so much can happen throughout the semester, making it difficult for you see the brighter side of your current struggle.

I lost my grandma last week, it was probably the most pivotal time of the semester and I couldn’t go home to say my final goodbyes to her. It hurt so much, most of last week was spent crying as opposed to focusing on my assignments and exam preparation. It hurt because she went unexpectedly, I know people die but until death comes knocking at your doorstep, claiming someone you love, you don’t think about it much. When it happens, it is earth shattering, you feel as though your world is coming to an end but as you take a moment to look around you, you finally come to a very painful realization that life goes on. Life doesn’t stop or wait for you to grieve, to finish crying nor does it give you the opportunity to come to terms with your new reality it simply goes on.

I started to think back on my grandmas life and the experiences she had. She never went to college, married at a young age and left her home country in South Africa to build a life with my grandfather in Zimbabwe. My life now in comparison to her life is a product of everything she sacrificed and worked hard for despite never being able to receive a college degree.

In hopes of trying to finish off this semester on track, Shaunea Brown’s story inspired me to be grateful for the opportunities that I have. She went to college late and was raised by a single mom who struggled to make ends meet, while raising three children. During her high school years, instead of thinking about colleges and SAT’s her concerns where about how she would support herself and where she would live.

“I was uprooted from one home to the next 21 times and attended 15 different schools. Several times, I was forced to live with other families spanning through my elementary, middle, and high school years”. -Brown

At age 18 her mothers friend encouraged her to enroll in a community college which she later dropped out of because she needed to support her family financially.

“Additionally, I didn’t believe that someone like me could succeed in college”. -Brown

While working various jobs and trying to stabilize her life, she was unable to further her career because she lacked a college degree, and self confidence. During this time, she expressed that she had regrets of not attending college and the fear of failing held her back.

Despite these fears and setbacks she decided to return to college and is currently pursing her Bachelors degree. Whenever I meet alot of older people, their advice to me is always the same. “Make the most of your opportunities now”. Many people have had to drop out of school for different reasons, but whatever the reason may have been at the time, one thing remains the same, they all have a sense of regret about it, especially if they feel their lives could have benefited more from having qualifications to support them further.

With this in mind, I am trying my best to finish what I have started and see where life takes me from there. So good luck to all my fellow peers to those of you graduating soon you are almost there so don’t give up and to those of you who still have a while to go, lets keep pushing and encouraging eachother to stay on course, because not everyone has the same opportunity to further their education.


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