Words from a First Lady
Pillars of focus are: (1) purpose (2) mentorship (3) sisterhood (4) community service/civic engagement/social justice (5) leadership (6) high school readiness (7) college readiness (8) career readiness (9) entrepreneurship (10) etiquette, (11) finance and (12) building strong families.
In a narrative of 500 words or less, please share how your personal experiences in First Ladies have ignited your pursuit of the following: self-discovery or purpose, influenced your academic success, driven your participation in extracurricular activities, and empowered you to advocate for your community through service during your high school tenure.
While a Freshman in college, please share how you would like your First Ladies family to support you. Also, share how you plan to help your middle school First Ladies after graduating high school and beyond.
Ti'yona K. Stephens
The voyage of self-discovery is a pilgrimage each person is destined with. The road to purpose is embedded with character-building obstacles and exciting opportunities. Exploring new paths we gather pieces of God’s map for life along the way; each segment a clue giving directions to the destination He has in store for us. As I sauntered down the path of education I was handed a crucial fragment of this map that would greatly influence the course of my journey. The First Ladies Youth Leadership Foundation was a piece that not only guided me into self-recognition but influenced my academic success while empowering me to be an advocate for others through extracurricular activities.
“I am Lady Ti’yona Stephens. I am a child of the almighty God. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am Lady Ti’yona Stephens.” These words became a part of me. “I am... ” The same words that God used to define himself in Exodus 3:14 where, “God said unto Moses; I AM THAT I AM...” We were taught to announce these words confidently, without fear– repeating them many times over as self-doubt began to fade. Saying them was a reminder of who I am in Christ– that the creator of the world is living inside of me and his love surpasses all
insecurity. Once I knew who I was in the eyes of the LORD, it enabled me to empower those around me through encouragement and affirmation.
Additionally, First Ladies increased motivation for my scholastic success. To participate in the program we were required to maintain our grades at an appropriate level. This not only motivated me to prioritize my studies but also exposed me to more opportunities. After learning the importance of responsibility I was able to maintain my grades in high school and ultimately place within the top ten members of my class. This also opened the door for me to be eligible for the Hope and Zell Miller Scholarships. The foundational teaching of responsibility granted me much favor in many areas of my life.
Furthermore, the First Ladies program empowered me to actively support my community through extracurricular activities in high school. First Ladies taught us to be confident when taking initiative in our daily lives including things ranging from leading a group presentation, to giving tours of the school to new students. Through our closely knit sisterhood relationship, we learned to consider our sisters’ feelings and spread genuine love and compassion with one another. This segued for us to share the same love with our community through volunteer work such as providing food for the homeless. These elements prepared me for the service I would do as a peer leader. As a representative of the Peer Leadership program and a member of The Voice organization, I helped to spread awareness of issues such as teen suicide and human trafficking. I was also trained to support and share authentic empathy with my peers as we worked through emotional obstacles together. First Ladies was the cornerstone to my continuation of such community service in High School.
I am continuing to discover new sections of my map of life each day. As I gaze back at the road of my past I realize how far I have traveled, and that I would not be where I am if I had never found First Ladies. My desire is that my First Ladies family will support me through encouragement as I go forth into my freshman year, and I hope to give back to my sisters by being available for any spiritual or emotional guidance they may need.