This article was written by Armani Gaines for the Elevate e-magazine. This series features top featured writers from the writing program. The original article can be found here.

“ It isn’t where you came from, it where your going that counts,” once said by Ella Fitzgerald. Living in a low income neighborhood has shaped me to become a leader and also be inspired to be a better person.
As a young child to now being a young adult I have always lived in the same neighborhood which is located in NE of Washington D.C. Living in the same neighborhood for 18 years has caused me to be more aware but also immune to violence, crimes and the  extreme drug use that occurs around me. In my younger years I never understood what was going on but I did notice how lives ended so quickly and the same cycle of failure repeated itself. Constantly being surrounded by drugs, crimes and violence made it harder for me to stay focused when there was so much negativity occurring around me.

Based on my experiences living in poverty was actually like being born with the odds against me because there was no easy routes and no one to look up to. I knew that I wanted to make a change but was too young to actually know where to start so time went on and the violence begun to worsen. As I got older and entered my pre-teen/teen years I grew into my own person who knew right from wrong. The friends I grew up with were now people I felt like I never met, they had all been influenced by peer pressure which lead them to be involved with violence and crime also. My mindset was pure and I knew I couldn’t be like my old friends so that led me to be a leader. It was the hardest most loneliest time of my life because I had no friends due to my decision to be different and be a leader with aspirations and goals.

I got taught so many lessons from my community and the biggest lesson I learned is “ Don’t take the easy route, the hard work will pay off”. I watched the same cycle repeat itself over and over which inspired me to be better, different and greater. I always knew that I did not want to end up in prison or a school  drop out so I worked harder and pushed myself to do my best at all times. Watching my childhood friends go down the wrong route inspired me to stay focus because I knew that with hard work and dedication I would beat all odds and make it far in life.

I also want to inspire someone else, I do not want the upcoming generations to feel like their possibilities and chances are limited due to what they see around them. I will always continue to work hard and be an over achiever in everything I do. I am proud to say that I have obtained a 3.0 and higher GPA throughout my high school years. I have stayed focus with nothing being a distraction to me, with all the negativity, violence, crimes and drugs my community has exposed me to. I plan on attending Clark Atlanta University to major in business administration/ management. I know that being in college is going to challenge me but I am ready to continue being a leader ,work hard and stay focus so I could progress In life and give back to my community. In conclusion my neighborhood has shaped me to be a leader and inspired me to be success driven at all times. I will take this with me to college to help me get my degree in business and also be able to have my own business in the future.

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My name is Tina, and I'm a Public Relations/Marketing Coordinator for I'm a Vegas girl who enjoys writing, reading, hiking, running and learning new things!

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