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Alumni of the Year

Keisha Allsop-Harsey

It is said that a journey of a thousand miles, begins with the first step. I would like to tell you about how my journey began. Ten years ago, I was struggling as a single mother; I had no money, few friends and a lot of fears. The only thing I knew for sure was that I needed a change. I can’t say that deciding to go to college was a calculated decision; as a matter of fact the idea of College terrified me. I had been out of the academic setting for a long time, and felt deep concern about my ability to understand the course work. However, shortly after starting, it became the place where I began to believe in possibilities and embraced thoughts of what I could achieve.

During my studies the professors were supportive and encouraging, and reassured me that I would do well. At first it was a hard concept to accept, I was not your tradition college student, and the possibility of failing loomed in the back of my mind, constantly. I remembered quote I read by Winston Churchill which stated, “Success is going from failure to failure without the loss of enthusiasm”. I did not fully understand the implications or impact those words would have on me.  I knew failure very well; the only thing I wanted to see was success. These words showed me how to find balance. I had to keep trying even I did not get it at first, second or third time. I learned that failure is only failure if I stop trying. So I continued to push, and as I began to achieve, I began to believe.

I graduated from ASA with a 4.0 GPA and continued to find new opportunities to learn and grow, by pursuing my Bachelors’ and then my Master’s degree. I eventually went on to pursue my non- profit leadership certificate at Fordham University, and started my non- profit organization for autism awareness in honor of my autistic son. I am now an active Alumni Board member here at ASA College, and a proud ASA Faculty, where I am able to give my students the same determination and hope given to me. It is not easy thing to hold on to hope. That is why president Obama said “the audacity of hope” it requires you to bold and take risk even when you can’t see. I tell my students during our introductions, at the start of the semester that “I am you and you are me” so my outcome will be your outcome, and I dare them to believe me.

It’s hard to believe that a decade has past, since I first walked through the doors of ASA College. It is where my hard work and potential united to produce THIS fearless and confident young woman.

I walked in, a single mother of two, afraid and unsure, and left, with grit, focus, a husband and two more children, but that is another story for another time. I am now pursuing my PhD and scheduled to graduate this December. I often pinch myself at the thought of my current status; it is so far removed from anything I could have imagined. Me, a “c” student in high school, found my way to becoming a PhD graduate, with a bright future ahead of me!

I encourage you with an excerpt from a poem by Marianne Williamson, some of you might have heard it from the late Nelson Mandela “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is what we are powerful beyond measure”.

To the graduating class of 2016, I say congrats, continue to be powerful, and set the bar high. To your supporters, some of whom might be considering starting their academic journey, I say consider it to further, be brave, be fearless, you are more powerful than you believe.