I prayed long and hard, applied to five different PhD programs, fasted and sewed seeds of faith. Finally, it all paid off. Letters of admission were mailed & a choice had to be made… eventually it was. I made the decision to up-root the only life I’d ever known, in Omaha, Nebraska, and relocate to Southern California. Aside from missing occasional family gatherings, a holiday here or there, and too many birthday celebrations, I don’t hardly regret my decision to leave home. My pastor told me that I need not feel sad about leaving behind the life I had there because God was going to move, in a major way, and he has. He also told me that where I was going, like an amusement park, on a high ride in God’s favor, and not everyone could go on this ride. He was right.
For a year and a half I’ve been living a roller coaster of a life. Every poisonous relationship, inadequate friendship, and unfavorable person, has been removed from my life. I am surrounded by not only physical beauty, but a bountiful peace that surpasses anything I could have ever imagined. I am making strides as a woman, mother and person, and truly falling in love with the abilities that I have been blessed with and furthermore, walking in the purpose that he’s bestowed upon me!
I relocated to work toward my PhD at Claremont Graduate University. I was uncertain about the process and overwhelmed with the transition, but I had one hell of a support system: praying for me, uplifting me, checking in on me and encouraging me. Above all, I had a six year old being that had never seen, heard, or felt his mother fail. Talk about pressure! I straightened my back, laid on my face, and called out to God. Asking for everything and anything that I could think of to guide me through. I cried. I toiled. I was restless, anxious, proud and so I thought, in over my head!
I found myself, months later enrolled in 14 credits, when I was advised to take 8 and academically excelling. I’ve built relationships, immersed myself into the Claremont community and designed a life worth living. This blog, was created as an outlet to assist me in my transition from a full time mother, employee, recent Masters graduate into a full time employee, lone mother, PhD student and an alien to California. I wanted to stay connected to the things that I love most: writing, mentoring, inspiring, empowering and developing my Queen narrative ♥.
I guess it’s true what they say… that hard work pays off. Here I am, 18 months into my PhD program, a school of education fellow, campus leader, community volunteer, sports mom, scholar activist, Graduate Student Council President and 2016 Bowen Associate. I seldom think much of what I am doing until someone points out just how fascinating my life is to them. How much my achievements inspire them. I am honored, truly. God has given me a testimony that I am proud of because it helps to heal and motivate other people, all the while helping to keep me. I am inspired by me too. I am proud of me, too. I recently took time to consider myself, as if I was someone else and thought, “what would I think of me, if I was someone on the outside, looking in?” That question alone has helped me to further appreciate, honor, love and admire the way that He has made me, and the things that he’s brought me through. I look up to me. And the person I want to be most when I grow ALL THE WAY UP, is the future and better me.
As previously stated, I was named, a Claremont Graduate University, 2016 Bowen Associate. Tasked with assisting the School of Educational Studies on a variety of social, academic, research based, alumni and student focused projects. I am to attend educational conferences and serve as a support for faculty and staff, as well as a liaison between current students and administration. I do this with pride. Upon submitting my application I thought “eh, why not!?” This will be one more thing for me to conquer while I’m at Claremont Graduate University, and also another opportunity to connect with students, faculty and administration within my department. Another experience. Another opportunity to learn, empower, teach, triumph, edify & repeat :). A great way to network and serve the very student community that I am a member of–not to mention, serve as representation for the very few students of color that I am privileged to learn, grow and create with. Lastly, one of the most convincing perks, it comes with an enhanced fellowship offering. It’s kind of hard to say NO to money, when it’s offered for something you’d do for free! Anyhow, weeks post application submission, I was honored in receiving a unanimous vote to become a 2016-2017 Bowen Associate!
I could hardly believe what I was hearing. ME? Wait, no…for real…ME? I was in complete disbelief. Not that I had been chosen, but at just how well God orchestrates this thing called life. I sat after the phone call, smiling, trying to hold back tears. In awe at the work being done before me. And then, when I thought it could not get any better, my advisor emails me “CONGRATULATIONS MARQUISHA!” She had to almost force me to apply and was happy that I obliged. In addition to my being awarded the position she informed me that I was the first, black, male/female, at Claremont Graduate University to receive such an honor. I sat again, in awe…. ME? ME! THEE FIRST, Brown Bowen!
A little background: Claremont Graduate University was founded in 1925. It is the oldest all-graduate institution in the United States. It is too, a predominantly white and elitist institution. It comes with a very strong reputation in higher education and an award winning, doctoral level faculty. The Bowen Institute, in which the Bowen associates extend from, is named after Howard Bowen (economist and higher education president who served as CGU president from 1970-1971). He established Bowen’s Law which is a formula for spending in higher education. 2016 marks the 33rd year of the Bowen Institute.
33 years doesn’t seem like much, but consider this: 33 years ago Prince played purple rain for the first time. 33 years ago Ronald Reagan was President of the United States. 33 years ago many of us weren’t even thought of. 33 years ago Michael Jackson had just started to moon walk. People who look like me had the right to vote. 33 years ago the Martin Luther King Jr. Day bill was signed, creating a federal holiday on the 3rd Monday every January. 33 years ago the DARE program was launched in the US–continuing the so-called War on Drugs. Jim Crow (1965) was only a 5 year old thing of the past.
In 33 years, there was not a single, black/brown, student, serving as an associate. As a woman of color, academic, mother, mentor and Queen being, I pride myself on seeking opportunities and creating pathways for those after me. As a child I always said that I wanted to make history when I grew up. I wanted to be the FIRST to do SOMETHING. And here I am, years later…the FIRST Brown Bowen ♥.
I thank God for opening the biggest & best of doors for me and share this academic achievement as a testimony to his power. At 19 years old I gave birth, was told that I had ruined my life and set myself up for failure. I was told that I would never be anything other than a “BabyMama”. There’s a genuine satisfaction in proving people wrong, but there’s an even greater satisfaction in succeeding my own expectations of self and you can do it too!
The First Brown Bowen ♛