Strength in the Face of Adversity
written by Uduak-Obong T. Eyo
As women, we face many challenges. However, if you are a woman of color, those challenges are heightened. I am no stranger to adversity, but I was unprepared for the heightened challenges I would face as I navigated through adulthood. I went to high school at an educational oasis. The renowned Cass Tech in Detroit. My high school was a place where 97% of the students looked just like me, and 98% of all students pursued higher education. There I was surrounded by positivity and educators’ constant reassurance that nothing was out of reach. Naturally, when I started undergrad, I looked for that same environment. What I found, in the midst of a strikingly different educational environment, was Strong Sister Silly Sister, Inc. (SSSS).
Unlike high school, encouragement and motivation were not easy to come by. I realized that people that looked like me have to face things that were not readily apparent while in the oasis that was my adolescence. I had to work full time in undergrad to pay for education because of some unexpected changes in my family’s income status, one month before I started school. My mother had fallen seriously ill, my father became a victim of the economic downfall in 2009 and as a result of those stressors, admittedly my grades were horrible. At the lowest semester, my grade point average was 1.8. I still remember meeting with my academic counselor about my career plans. She was frank with me. She told me that I would never get into law school and I should consider saving money and dropping out.
So here I am, four years later, standing at the cusp of receiving my J.D. Not only am I in law school, I’m at the top of my class, I am on the Law Review Board, I am the President of a Legal Honors Society, and the Vice President of the Student Bar Association. And yes, I still work full time. So what changed?
The most important thing I learned through those years is what God has for you, will always be for you, and no one can do anything about it.
In my very first SSSS program participation, I remember learning that silly sisters tear others down and strong sisters uplift. What happens when it is not an individual that is working against you, but a system that is created to reinforce your status as a second class citizen?
The answer is you do what strong sisters do, you uplift. Even if it means uplifting yourself. Life will always have its twists and turns but it is important to understand that you are not a slave to your circumstances. You are brilliant, you are beautiful, you are strong, and most importantly you are YOU. There is nobody else on this earth like you. Your purpose is too great to let anything stop you, because the world needs you and what you have to offer.
Adversity is the silly sister that teaches you to embrace the Strong Sister inside of you.