My family taught me respect and my background was solid growing up.

But things change. I have been up and above — just as been down to the ground. But I have learned how to make the best out of bad situations, which is a strong trait that I get from my mother.

I was raised by my mother and have one full sister.

Never judge a book by its cover. Every book is not the same, and every book teaches a different lesson. That wisdom is worth more than any amount of money.

My father wasn’t in my life as a child — I didn’t meet him until I was a preteen. And then he disappeared, and I left it at that.

I later found out about his alcohol and drug addictions, so I feel he actually did me a favor by disappearing. As years went by I learned a little too much about this firsthand. Just one day of it showed me how bad things can it. You can hang around the right crowd and try to be positive. Or you can hand around the wrong crowd and quickly become negative. And I’ve done a little bit of both.

By the age of 17 I developed a seizure disorder while struggling to graduate from high school. At the same time, I was watching my grandmother die of cancer, which was incredibly painful. I was up at 4 a.m. and would not get home until 9 p.m.

Some past decisions caught up to me in my senior year and jeopardized my entire education. I was forced to pass every single class in order to graduate high school on time. In my mind, I couldn’t let my grandmother die thinking I didn’t graduate from high school. My mother and sister were unable to do the same, so I made it a priority to get it done.

To be continued…