“It is a fall morning in 1974.  My 73 year old great grandmother whose parents were slaves stands at the school bus stop with me for the first time.  Tears invade her eyes. That day, we share a moment that catapults both of us into a new reality. My grandmother experienced a limited formal education; however, her offspring exceeded her wildest educational imaginations. This moment marks our sharing in my crossing of the threshold of “opportunity”.  At the bus stop, we both face new possibilities. While she was formed during an era in which the lines of black and white, rich and poor were clearly etched; I am to step onto an inclusive path. The first milestone on this path for me is the North Carolina Head Start program. As my great grandma waves goodbye to me that day, the tears relentlessly roll out of her eyes. She is overwhelmed. She is proud. She is hopeful…”

This encounter serves as an important event in my history.  As we wait at the bus stop, my great grandmother embodies my important cultural, spiritual and emotional identity.  At the same time, she affirms my ability to aspire for anything and to make a positive difference in the world, despite social boundaries that dictate otherwise.  Her presence in my life is a very powerful force.  It is this force that inspires me…–Tiffney Marley

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