June 8, 2021
"I graduated high school and then I finally needed to go to school or go to work. And in my house, my mom, she wasn't too big on pushing us to go to college. So college was just never an idea for me. It was like, I can go but it's not too important.
So I grew up with my mom and dad in Brooklyn. And around when I was ten years old, that's when they kind of got a divorce. And around that time is when I went through a transition in my life where I had to live without my dad. And my dad, he basically is someone that is me, in a sense. I had to start this new life without my dad. So the divorce, it took a big toll on my family.
And one of the ways that it did was that, my mom, she got remarried to my stepfather. And us being that age, I don't remember, like, ten, we kind of had to accept this new man in our life, we kind of rebelled against that. So, around that time, middle school is when it really was hard for us girls, and it kind of reflected in the way that I would just hang out with certain people because I kinda only resonated with people that were kind of bad in a sense.
So even though I was a good student, I just kind of steered away with people that were getting into fights or hanging in the streets and things like that. So young Melanie was just a duality. I was a happy girl with a great personality but at the same time, I had a lot of stuff that was on my shoulders."
"The last moment when I was lashing out and then I decided to finally get myself together was when I went out with my best friend. It was after a party, we were going to, and we were like 18, 19 and as well as were two feet away from the party, five guys walked up to us and they were like, what's cracking?
And then someone said, yeah, what's cracking? Because in a sense, if you say what's cracking to someone, that's crip. That basically means that the other person you're trying to figure out if they're crip or if they're not and stuff like that. So that was just a way of trying to figure out, where do you stand in a set?
So when that guy asked someone that we were with, what's cracking, and the other guy replied, yeah, what's cracking. The other guy started a fight with him basically symbolizing that the guy that initiated the question, he wasn't crip, he was blood. He was trying to figure out, okay, is he crip or is he blood?
So that initiated a big fight. So huge, that someone got stabbed in his head and I had to see that stuff. So I grabbed my best friend and I sat her down. I was like, don't get up, because she's a fighter. She grew up in a family where she had to fight all her life. So that's all she knew what to do when she was fighting. I told my best friend, I said just sit down, don't get up, just leave them. I think that moment when I was telling her to sit down, don't get up is what I was telling myself, No, you need to leave this alone. Because that wasn't the first or second time that I've been in a fight or I witnessed a fight go wrong.
So I think at that point in time when I experienced that, is when I was like, I gotta leave. I gotta leave the street life alone. And not only that, I had to make a big decision that I told myself that I have to leave her alone because she was so stuck in the street mentality. So after I told myself I'm not gonna be in the streets anymore.
Also, my mom, her moving out to Queens, that also helped the transition as well. So yeah, Queens is where a new life began basically because I left that life behind me. So even though I did a lot of negative stuff, there was that energy, inside of me that knew that okay, Melanie, you could do better."
"I think that's what I started to realize, okay, Melanie, you need to take all this energy that you have and apply it into your education because I'm getting older as soon you know it. It's not gonna be too late because I have a lot of classmates that are older. But it's like, do I really need to wait that long? I need to start making that step now. So it was a push from just feeling unhappy, you feel this imbalance in yourself and I was just like, you know what, what's gonna make me happy? And that was cool.
So when I look at the younger kids that are in my class, it seems like they're just in school because their parents have them there. And I look at that, I'm like, damn, you need to take a year off, figure your stuff out before you go to school because a lot of people, they just go to school to please everyone else. And I feel like for me sitting in that classroom, it's like I made the right decision by going out."
Up Next: Summer, 19 years old
After a rocky childhood, Summer plans to pursues a career in mental health counseling to help others through hard times.
"Graduating is very shocking. It seems so unreal, because I honestly never thought that I was gonna make it there."