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“My dad immigrated to the United States from Ghana with his family when he was just a kid. I was born when he was only seventeen. He left me with my mom in Chicago and went off to play football in college and finish his education. I was never really a priority to my mom and that left me pretty much spending the first part of my life being brought up by my grandma. We moved from Chicago to Georgia to Minnesota all by the time I was in fourth grade. It seemed like we were always moving around and that I was always starting at a new school. Nothing ever felt stable. When I was nine my dad got custody of me, and came to Minnesota from Nebraska to get me. I remember going to college with him and sitting in the computer lab while he was in class finishing his Master’s. He has taken my education very seriously too. He used to make me bring home random progress reports and do book reports that he assigned at home. I lived with my dad in Nebraska from fourth grade through high school, and he could be really strict. He was never even really home. Most of the time I was taking care of myself at home, by myself, even as a nine-year-old. I had to cook my own meals and make sure the house was clean every day. When I graduated from high-school I went off to college right away, but my head just wasn’t in it at that time. I moved back to Minnesota, got a job, started working and bought my very own first car. Everything was going well and I was ready to go back to college here in Mankato, but when it came time to file the FAFSA, my mom didn’t come through. I am finally back in school now that I can file on my own, and I am majoring in Computer Science. I might even go to grad school when I’m done, who knows. I’m just happy to be in school after all of the struggles along the way.”

Picture & Caption: Mackenzie Hendley, Torey Richards, Lexi Maehren

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