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Jaz Howard Univ. Fund

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My name is Jazree Ridley. I am 18 years old and of mixed race from Oakland, California. I was born into a single-family househould because my father was incarcerated most of my life. I am also an open lesbian.

My father's incarceration has been a big factor in my life and was the source of my personal statement that helped me get into one of the most prestigious HBCUs, Howard University. For many years no one knew of his incarceration until I joined a non-profit called Project WHAT! That deals with youth and their parents incarceration. Now I am able to let go of this fact and move on to start my new life.

When I was growing up I didn't even know i would be able to go to college, let alone the opportunity to go to Howard. Since 5th grade, every classroom i was in, i was the only girl from African descent. No other girl in the class looked like me. And this has been the same status through middle school and high school. I have been in advanced classes since 7th grade. Hearing about Howard gave me a realization that there are more people who look like me that can be successful in academics and not just sports or music.

My mom has always said that i have an old soul. I love all the oldies since the 20s. I love how music can express my feelings that i did not even know i had. My mother has always tried to embrace my African-American side of my family, and i never knew why until i grew up in high school. I want the chance to have educated conversations about race, gender, and other topics with people who knows what I mean. It is hard being black, gay, and a woman. I want to prove that i won't fail.

When i go to Howard i will be a history major. My goal is to get my Ph.D in history and become a college professor because I love to teach and I want to help the next generations surpass their parents, grandparents and so on to help this world. I don't want my father's incarceration become a obstacle that will hold me back. I will surpass it and become something great of this world. All i need is for you to help me get there.


Jazree Ridley
San Leandro, CA

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