Meet Denisha Scott, guest blogger and senior at Virginia Commonwealth University majoring in Fashion Merchandising. She received a Fulbright Scholarship to study abroad this past summer to Thailand. She is an Alumni Ambassador for CISabroad and volunteers on campus to reach out to students who want to study abroad.
This is the first of a three series post.
I have never had the opportunity to travel abroad. I grew up in public housing with a single mother and three siblings. Needless to say, funds were tight. The only places my brothers and I were able to travel to were field trips we went on in school. Coming from Virginia, that meant the furthest north we went was Washington D.C, and the furthest south was North Carolina.
Luckily when I was in fourth grade our school welcomed five non English speaking students. I was asked to be a guide and mentor to one non English speaking student from Thailand. At first the opportunity was odd to me as I was not sure how to communicate with him. As time progressed and his English improved, he and I became best friends. I was able to teach him about what little I had seen of the United States and he managed to teach me about Thailand. I learned more about his home country than I believed to know about my own. By the end of fourth grade, I was already convinced that I would go out and see the world when I got the chance. He and I attended school together up until our high school graduation and by that point I was positive that Thailand would be my first travel destination.
When you are African-American and live in public housing, you are often stereotyped and downcast. For most of the entirety of my primary and secondary schooling, I believed that because I was black, I would not excel, I would never succeed, nor would I be able to see the world. That seemed like an opportunity fit only for the white children that I was grouped into class with. Granted, I was in honors and advanced placement classes so I was blessed with a better education than many children. But those classes did not motivate me because all that I saw were upper-middle class white children who had no idea of what a budget was. I was often alone, the only minority or one of few in my classes. It was a daunting feeling; to believe that I could not do what my peers did, because I was different, because my skin was darker. Disheartening as it was, I had a mother who pushed me and believed in me despite all of my fears and doubts. Although she was a ray of sunshine on my darkest days, it did not make up for the fact that we were still financially challenged. So although I wanted to see the world, and she wanted the same for me, that idea seemed far-fetched.
Learning that I would have the opportunity to not only travel to Thailand, but study there as well only heightened my desire to go. Traveling has been, and still is an aspiration of mine but education is a passion. I am a first generation college student. My mother nor my brothers, aunts, or grandparents had the opportunity to attend college so education is something that I take seriously because I want to set an example for my younger brother. I wanted him to understand that where we come from does not matter nearly as much as where we intend to go.