“I’m excited to wake up in the morning and say I’m getting an education…because Lord knows, you need it.”

Lakesha A. wants to be an inspiration – to her two sons, to her peers, and to herself.

“I came here (E3 Power Center City) after I had aged out of DHS,” she remembered. “My aftercare worker suggested it, and I couldn’t believe it was real – that ‘I get to go back to school’ feeling.”

Not held back by personal struggles or disappointments in her life, Lakesha has thrown herself into all the opportunities provided by E3, since enrolling in September. In addition to her GED studies, she’s a member of Youth Council, which helps develop learning activities for program members, completed Job-Readiness Training, and is looking forward to interviewing for a Paid Work Experience/internship. She’s also a member of ELECT, a group of E3 members who are learning how to navigate their educational dreams while parenting.

“It’s taught me that I can get this,” she said. “We learn how to reward our kids – and ourselves – when we stay on the path.”

The path, for Lakesha, was made easier with smaller classes, caring instructors – and a growing familiarity with one special poet and icon.

“I wasn’t the high school kid,” Lakesha said. “I wanted to be young and free, now waking up and coming to school – and I knew I wasn’t passing, even though public school kept passing me!”

But in learning about Maya Angelou with E3 Instructor Kai Davis, Lakesha felt worlds opening up for her – and drew strength from Angelou’s words.

“Her poem ‘The Lesson’ is very relatable. And it made me think about how I could forgive the past, even as I take pride in being a better me – getting up every day, being here on time, and setting an example.”

Her long-term dreams are many: having a small business, learning cosmetology, being a nurse practitioner – and one day, after getting her GED, taking advantage of the College Success program and enrolling at Community College of Philadelphia. But for now, Lakesha is learning to move forward and to be kind to herself.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself,” she admitted. “Then I thought, no one is perfect, but it’s okay to want and work for some of the things in your life to be perfect.”


Lakesha’s Poem

In a world filled with changes
each and every day…

I feel I’m being judged
for what I do and say…

I remember back to Barbies
and play days at the park…

When I didn’t worry about
other people’s remarks…

Now looking in the mirror
I see to my surprise…

A completely different person
staring in my eyes…

The carefree little girl
I saw at 12 and 13…

Has now become a teen mother…

Just trying to survive…

– Lakesha, E3 Power Center City Member


The Lesson

I keep on dying again.
Veins collapse, opening like the
Small fists of sleeping
Memory of old tombs,
Rotting flesh and worms do
Not convince me against
The challenge.
The years
And cold defeat live deep in
Lines along my face.
They dull my eyes, yet
I keep on dying,
Because I love to live.

– Maya Angelou

Posted in Client Spotlight JEVS Program: E3