Feature Real. Strong. Women.

Living as a Real, Strong Woman: A Black History Month Reflection

By LaKeshia Horton (Iota Alpha, Alumnae Initiates)

My cultural values are self-respect, to have integrity, good character and always do your best at whatever it is that you try. No one is going to hand you anything without putting in work for it. Our culture has to work hard for everything that we need and want. These cultural values have shaped me to believe that there is nothing in this world that I can’t do. This is why I have accomplished so much. I push myself until I’m uncomfortable. I have learned that when a person is uncomfortable, you fight until you are comfortable again. That fight is you knocking out your goals, dreams and admirations.

My motto is “to forever learn.” You don’t have to go to school to learn new things. Different occupations, different neighborhoods and vacations bring different cultures together. Welcoming in these different cultures helps you with respecting and understanding different cultural values. This is the reason I joined Alpha Chi Omega as an alumna, because of its diversity. My goal is to have sisters from different cultures and heritages. People need to see that it is OK to love people of different races, cultures and backgrounds. Most of my friends look like me, but I also have friends who don’t look like me. I want to be around many diversities and give my kids the exposure to many diversities. I made this decision not only for myself but for my entire family.

I have been able to share my Black heritage through my career as an educator by pushing my students to do better and be better as people. I always make sure that my students know that they are beautiful and that they matter. This goes for my male and female students – no one is left out. The world today has the tendency to believe that our boys shouldn’t show vulnerability. With vulnerability comes empathy and sympathy for others. This is a part of being human. Black youth need to know that being a human, you will fail at something. You don’t look at them as failures. Consider failures a do-over; you have another chance to do it over, differently and correctly this time. I also have a chance to help my coworkers understand our students because I relate to them. I am a product of the same environment they are from. I help them with empathizing with our students and finding different approaches for each student. It’s all about building a rapport and trust. This goes for adults as well.

I chose Alpha Chi Omega specifically for the “Real. Strong. Women.” tagline. I consider myself a real, strong woman. I have been through so many things as a young woman and adult that made me strong in the end. A real, strong woman to me is a woman who takes life lessons positively or negatively and utilizes them in a way that benefits her in the future. She observes, learns and teaches. People may look at me and think that I don’t go through things, but that’s a part of me living as a real, strong woman. I don’t wear my life on my sleeves. I’ve been through failure, pain, excitement, accomplishments and heartbreak, but I use that as an excuse to make a better life for myself.