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To the Girl I Left Behind...

“The baby girl without a chance
A victim of circumstance
The one who oughta give up
But she’s just too hard headed”

via GIPHY

Reba may have sung these words, but when I hear them, I think back to my relationship with a very special girl I knew before I got to Harvard.

To whoever may be reading this, it’s about to get real. So, buckle up and get ready for the ride. It’s STORY TIME (pt. 2)!!!

via GIPHY

For context, I am from the east side of Springfield, IL. Most of us live below the poverty line, the schools are underfunded, gangs are prevalent, and people sort of write you off from the beginning. While growing up, I got to know a girl very well, and the more I spent time with her, the more I realized she basically had no chance of ever making it out of that town.

via GIPHY

It wasn’t really the girl’s fault, sadly, the odds were just stacked against her. Early during her mother’s pregnancy, doctors told her mom she would have caudal regression syndrome and that there was little hope of her ever living a normal childhood, when she was born she wasn’t breathing, and she never had a relationship with her biological father, so her mom dealt with it all on her own. As life progessed, it didn’t get any easier for my friend. At the age of 12, she was diagnosed with depression, and at age 16 she became a survivor of sexual assault. Everyone told her that her situation was hopeless.

Until, one day, that girl got into Harvard. 

via GIPHY

Plot twist: I was the girl destined to fail. Yes, me, Alexa, the one writing this blog. Now the question arises, why didn’t I? Why didn’t I fail? Some would say it’s because I worked hard and pulled myself up, but that is not completely true. I owe almost every part of any success I have to this lovely lady, my mama. The most important thing my mama instilled in me is the idea that with struggle comes strength. She taught me how to forgive this world and the people in it for any pain they may have put me through and move forward through it all. Without her, none of this would be possible.


the author with her mom

Pictured here: Me in my prime, I actually peaked before the age of five.

When it comes to my background, I am no different than the kids from my hometown who took a wrong turn and ended up in jail or worse, which is why sometimes being at Harvard can get really hard. When one of my classmates is gunned down and I witness those I grew up with attend funerals while I enjoy one of the world’s most prestigious institutions, I deal with a lot of guilt. Sometime in the last year, the girl destined to fail became the girl I left behind, and I am not sure I am fully at peace with that transition, but this blog is taking me one step closer.


the author at the age of 5 blowing bubbles

Pictured above: Me around age five, again, truly my prime.

To the girl pictured above and any of those in similar situations, you’ll get through whatever it is you’re going through, and when you do, I hope you know it’s okay. Okay to leave, okay to grow, okay to find new experiences, okay to feel new things with new people in new places. Sometimes it takes walking away from the past to fully embrace the future and what you’re capable of. One day, you may feel so far away from who are now, but you’re still you, you’re still her, just bigger, smarter, and in an incredible new place. Wherever you are, wherever you go, I hope you’re happy, because after it all, you are worthy of happiness. 


the author moves in on Move-In day

Video of me walking away from my mom for the last time on move-in day

About the author

Hey y’all! My name is Alexa Brown. I am a proud first-gen college student, born and raised in Springfield, IL and now living in Dunster House (D Haus best house!). When I am not singing with... View full profile

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