My name is Shaquanta Stacey, and I'm a senior at Young Women'sLeadership Charter School. I am a proud African American female who grew up in neighborhoods all over Chicago. Currently, I live with my mother and sister in the Archer Heights neighborhood.
I work hard in school, and I've already been offered over $100,000 in scholarship money from a combination of colleges.
When a Freedom Fellow Alumni told me about the Chicago Freedom School, I thought it would look good on my college resume. The first few days of the program, I wasn't sure I would like it. It felt like we were spending a lot of time playing "getting to know you" games. But soon, I felt myself growing. I started to build relationships with the other Freedom Fellows based on the similar struggles we experienced. The Summer Leadership Institute ended up being one of the most influential periods in my life because I learned so much about myself and the world around me.
In the fall, I began working with my Fair & Just Schools cohort to design a campaign. We decided to create a workshop about the school-to-prison-pipeline that could be offered to young people all over Chicago. This action was important to me because it gave me a chance to present what I’ve learned to my peers who weren’t fortunate enough to have been a Freedom Fellow. Also, it gave me the opportunity to inform my peers of the school-to-prison-pipeline, which most of them are unaware of, and to call them forth to take action. We have already facilitated the workshop once for a group of our peers, and it was a success. I look forward to facilitating it many more times in the future.
Through doing this action, I learned that people like my ideas and they think that I am a very strong person and a great leader. I learned that many of my peers are unaware of what the school-to-prison-pipeline is and what they can do to help dismantle it. I learned that in organizing, you have to be well informed on the problem in order to come up with a solution. I’m very proud of my cohort's hard work and dedication to getting our action complete.
I’m hoping to change the world, to be honest. However, for now I’ll settle with dismantling the school-to-prison-pipeline by getting more peer juries in school, more student governments, less police and security offers, more counselors and less suspensions.