I attended the graduation ceremony for the Native American Youth and Family Center's Early College Academy in Portland, Oregon and witnessed some amazing moments that I feel like sharing. One of the eleven graduates was Shela Upham who has overcome significant barriers. Shela is a Native young mother who fulfilled a dream through receiving her high school diploma this year. She nervously read a beautiful poem to the packed room of people who were there wishing all of the graduates well. Here is her poem-
I AM by Shela Ariana Upham
I am an inspiration, a role model
I am a somebody, a lover, a fighter
I am smart, I am intelligent
I am going to make a difference,
One day I will be a historical figure
One day I will be the change that this world needs
One day everyone will know my name
One day I will have everything that I need and
One day I will be the most successful
Native Rights Lawyer
The world has even seen
One day you are gonna love me...
It is these special moments we need to celebrate because we all know the challenges our youth face and try our best to advocate for access to better, culturally relevant education, but how often do we stop and take in what they've actually accomplished?