Twenty-eight year old Dekia grew up in a small town in North Carolina where she excelled in a nearly all-white school, with little help from her guidance counselor, teachers and parents. She quickly realized that if she was going to college for teaching, she would need to create a path of success on her own.
“[My parents] never did anything to make sure we did [our homework]. It wasn’t like they sat us down to help with our homework – it was more like “You better have your homework done” and that was it,” she said.
Because Dekia didn’t have a support system at home due to her parents’ lack of education, she found inspiration to succeed through a 4th grade teacher. She explained, “I had a great teacher, very influential – he made learning fun.” This 4th grade teacher even inspired Dekia to become a teacher. When asked if there was an incentive for Dekia to exceed in school she replied, “I wanted to impress my teacher – go beyond what was expected of me.”
She points out that although she had someone who inspired her, she still feels that if there were more resources available to her growing up she would have a different life as well as her own kids. “I realized there were some things I wasn’t doing as a parent,” she said. “…Since my mom always told me bedtime stories, I was always telling my kids bedtime stories but I wasn’t reading to them. So I decided I would start reading to them 20 minutes every day.”
After asking Dekia what she thought was one of the root causes of illiteracy, she said, “Somebody at some point is going to feed into your life. [For example], me – as a community partner – giving time to a child. If I’m not there giving my time that opportunity is missed. If they don’t have that positive influence then I could be that positive influence that feeds into them. Someone in my life fed into my life to show me what’s important and I could have missed that opportunity.”
Dekia is currently living in Houston, Texas with her husband, two daughters and one son on the way. She’s passionate about impacting the lives of children through volunteering, providing awareness to the community and spending quality time with her family.