A Letter from the Graduate


I was born prematurely on June 24, 1993. Because I came early, the doctors prepared my mother for what seemed to be her soon reality- my death. The OBGYN in the delivery room attached me to just about every machine the delivery room had. After monitoring my heart and other organs, he shared with my mom, that I wouldn’t make it. I did.

In 4th grade, at Florence Elementary, I wanted to play for the basketball team. But there was one problem: Florence only had a boys’ basketball team. I shared with some of my then “friends” my plan to try-out for the squad. They laughed and told me I wouldn’t make it. I did.

Growing up, I had always wanted to become somebody. That somebody to me at 9 looked like a poet. By 10, I became a skilled arguer and thought naturally, I’d become an attorney. By 11, hell I just wanted to be valedictorian of my 6th grade elementary class. Ms. Koenig, the school’s PAC room teacher explained to me that because I had so many physical altercations that despite my 4.0 grade point average, the school’s PTO wouldn’t select me to speak at graduation. I did.

Fall of 2005, as a 7th grader at Monroe Middle School I joined (for the first time) Mrs. Rosenthal, Mrs. Woodard’s and Mrs. Knight’s Track & Field team. There, I worked on my talent in the 400- meter dash, the 100 and 200 hurdles and the girls 4×4 relay. I told the girls on my 4×4 that if they didn’t “tighten up” I would make it to state with or without them. I did.

After advancing onto high school, I managed to earn all As every year. But from 9th-12th grade I seemed to find myself in fights every other week in and out of school. Somehow or another I would always find a way to turn anything into a boxing ring: Benson High School’s gymnasium, movie theatres, the local Applebee’s, neighborhood parks, hell even folk’s front porches. HAHA They told me I wouldn’t “go anywhere” in life. I did.

I remember falling in what I thought was then “love” and getting pregnant during my junior year of high school. At 15 I was old enough to know that I had made a mistake but young enough to not know the ramifications that mistake would have on me. While reluctant to parent, my God Mom Mrs. Ronda Harvey-Shaheen told me I would become a great mother. I did.

Realizing I had a lot to prove, I began applying for scholarships and while fighting still, I made a bet with school’s Resource Officer, Mrs. McCants, that I would graduate from Northwest High School with a million dollars in collegiate scholarships. I did.

I enrolled into Texas Southern University’s Honors College where I thought I would double major. I deduced that a Spanish degree coupled with an Administration of Justice degree would advance me in the legal field and set me apart from what was then my “competition”. My advisor, Dr. Ratliff shared with me that being a double major in undergrad was tough and that because I was a mom who frequented home so much, I probably wouldn’t graduate in 4 years. In three years, I did.

I aspired to study abroad in Salamanca, Spain at the University of Salamanca to compete with some of the best and the brightest students on the planet on an international level. The Foreign Language Department required a $700.00 down payment from each student. Though (at the time) I worked for Coniston, Hardmon & Sankey Law Firm, Payless Shoe Source and the university’s Quality Enhancement Plan Office, I was not sure how I would accumulate such funds. Hell at the time, I was struggling paying my probation officer the funky $253 required of me each month while maintaining a car payment and rent. Desperate, I assured Dr. Sun that by the next day I would have the $700 to reserve my spot to study abroad. I did.


I remember the Summer of my first year in undergrad working for the United States Department of the Interior as an intern. I told my then “friend”, Zeng Cheng, that I was going to be hired to work for the agency so that after that year, I would no longer be an intern, but now an employee. A prospective Cornell University Ivy League student, he asked me what school I attended, so I told him. “TSU”? He exclaimed and explained that no federal agency- and certainly not one ran by the executive branch of the United States federal government- would hire any student from a Historically Black College (HBCU). The following Spring, I applied for the agency’s entry-level position and like I told Zeng I would become an employee, I did.

I remember leaving home (Omaha, Nebraska) and relocating to Houston, TX. My mother’s mom (at every chance she got) would discourage me from leaving the state. She explained that there was no way I could go to college in Houston because the city was too large. She told me I would not be able to make it out of the state as a student-parent. I did for degree 1 and 2. And again for degree 3, I did.

In one week, I will be graduating with much more than a legal degree. While oblivious at the time, I enrolled in the rigorous program with a lot I needed to work on. In addition to the degree, I am leaving with a lot to work with (i.e., self-awareness, communication skills, patience, social, professional and parental maturity).

Gratitude on Infinity right now. Thank you, God!




4 thoughts on “A Letter from the Graduate

  1. Chief says:

    My dear and precious friend and colleague. CONGRATULATIONS! I am so proud of you and love you like a daughter. I have watched you grow, mature and become the beautiful young women that you were born to be. Your curiosity, your passion for life, your perseverance and your brilliance come together in such a magical way. I only want the best for you and your little Ladybug. Huge Hugs of congratulations and pride – the chief.


  2. Rosa M Santiago says:

    My dear Mynesha,
    You are definitely a strong, brilliant and resilient human being. Continue being who you are, share your light and your passion, you are a warrior! I am proud of you!
    Many blessings!!!


  3. Ronda Harvey-Shaheen says:

    Dear Mynesha, my heart is full of joy as I think about all you’ve accomplished, despite many challenges, since 4th grade at Florence Elementary! I am so grateful to God, that you have been uplifted during your most difficult moments and that you have persevered to arrive at this amazing time in your life!! I am looking forward to the next chapter of your journey! Love you! Your God Mom.


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