This picture was taken in March 2011 before I boarded my first plane on my first trip overseas. I spent a little over a week exploring England and Scotland with some brilliant minds from the University of Delaware and the UK. I was in grad school working on my MPA. I was doing something huge, on my own. This picture was my defiance. I broke through so many of the barriers I was never supposed to get through. Sexually abused and assaulted before reaching high school only to encounter an entirely different kind of predator upon my arrival. Abused, neglected, ignored, and so shattered, I did anything I could to just feel loved. In that search, I became pregnant at 16 prior to starting my senior year in high school. Isolated, alone, and desperately afraid, I did the only thing I knew how to do - hide. I hid from everyone (not well to be honest), but mostly I hid from myself. I didn’t want to face the truth. I was never going to amount to anything and I was never going to get away from the life I desperately wanted out of. April 18, 2003 something changed. There was this beautiful little face of the sweetest baby boy I had ever laid eyes on. Looking at that face, I knew I had to try like hell to change what felt like my destiny. I graduated high school with that baby boy in my arms. I graduated with my BA with that little guy watching me from the stands. I graduated with my MPA with that slightly bigger little guy watching me from the audience. I was slowly becoming the someone I only dreamed I could be. The second picture, the not so little guy who pushed me to be the best person I could be. He is the reason I have worked so damn hard not to take things lying down. He is the reason I get up every day. I walk this earth and move through this life praying one day I will make him proud. When I look at that face, I still see the baby who blessed and inspired me that Good Friday in 2003. The universe had other plans and I am so grateful those plans included him.