Cincinnati, Ohio, 25 August 2015 | 09:00 AM America/Chicago Adversity Made Me Who I Am Tajha's Journey As a child, Tajha’s family was constantly on the move. Although they never had a reliable shelter to call home, Tajha refused to fall through the cracks. “If you’re in an environment you don’t want to be in, push yourself,” says Tajha, “I knew there was so much more out there for me.” “ Growing up in adversity has made me who I am- more resilient and adaptive Tajha„ It Takes a Village Luckily, she wasn’t alone. Tajha surrounded herself with a number of helpful role models along the way. One such supporter was her teacher Miss Fleming, who encouraged Tajha to pursue the world of possibilities that lay ahead. Equipped with great mentors, Tajha graduated second in her class, and the president of several clubs. These achievements earned her leadership service awards from Toastmasters and GRAD Cincinnati, funded by State Farm. The GRAD Cincinnati scholarship brought Tajha new mentors such as the organization’s Program Manager Jamell Taylor and its Executive Director Patricia Stewart Adams. Jamell says he knew right away Tajha was different from the others. “[She] is wise beyond her years,” he said fondly, “She has dreams and is willing to put in the hard work and dedication to make [them] come true.” At a Crossroads Dreams of a better life led Tajha to Ohio University, but the move from a small high school to a college of 27,000 students was overwhelming. Midway through her freshman year, the transition intensified as Tajha’s family lost their home due to financial hardship. Tajha struggled to balance her education with her ever-growing pile of worries. This left little time for making friends or being happy. Soon, Tajha thought about dropping out and returning to Cincinnati. During those trying times, however, her mentor Patricia helped her back on her feet. Patricia reminded her that opportunities don’t always knock more than once. Tajha reflected on how far she had come and repeated her mantra to herself. When you want to give up, just think where you will end up. With renewed motivation, she was able to finish her first year with a 3.5 GPA, an internship with the Community Food Initiative, and plenty of friends to boot. Chasing the Dream While college life still has its challenges, Tajha is making the best of it. Her infectious smile, captivating personality, and determination will enable her to overcome whatever life throws her way. After college, Tajha plans to work for the United Nations or the Peace Corps, with the goal of creating a culture that connects people. Her dream is to establish a non-profit organization that both mentors and provides full-ride scholarships to 7th – 12th grade students.