Where I grew up, no one wanted anything for themselves. People who had an opportunity to attend school saw it as a joke, as they didn’t care for their education, and me? I blended in with the crowd. No matter how much help you asked, no one would help you to succeed. Education wasn’t an option because no one ever felt good enough.
They thought we would all be the same, just another black female destined for failure. I remember my elementary school teacher telling me “ I wouldn’t amount to anything” , my middle school teacher swore I wouldn’t make it into my performing arts high school, and that was only the start of the never ending cycle of always having to prove myself because to them, I was never good enough. But I knew my worth. I knew I had to be confident in my own skin knowing that there’s a chance I wouldn’t be accepted. Understanding that if I don’t do things for myself then no one else would. It meant spending my free time at a children’s center helping, rather than at home sleeping. I used my time and devoted it to working with other volunteers, helping people who didn’t see education as option and made it a priority.
Currently, I am seeking to help the community through volunteer work, being apart of leadership organizations— the one I am currently a part of is Union Settlement Leadership—, tutoring, being a mentor to not only my 7 siblings, but students that look up to me, doing internships with nonprofit organizations ( Bloomberg Arts and Culture internship and Poets House intern), singing to autistic students in elementary school, while also participating in monthly cancer walks.
So, some people may ask me, what is my goal? Well, I want to change the expectations. We should work together and not against each other. This is the purpose of Purposefully Pretty. Purposefully Pretty is an organization who strives to identify girls who have and will continue to aspire to greatness. I am seeking more knowledge to being an effective leader and contributor in my community. Growing to be stronger, more independent, and more collaborative, I will set an example and enable others to make empowering decisions for themselves. I will aspire to help and educate, so that they can do the same for someone else, since we will achieve and we will conquer. My name is Nadia Oakley and I am Purposefully pretty because I am a girl taking action to make reforms, help the community, and eventually work my way up to being a civil rights lawyer. I am a change agent.