By KatriceSomeone whose made your life worth living.
First, Jesus. My relationship with Him has been the single most profound influence in who I am and the decisions I have made throughout my life. While I've enjoyed wonderful friendships and subsequent experiences over the years, I have never been one to follow the crowd because I always wanted to live a standard-bearing life. If we've ever conversed at length, you know, I'm big on a person's back story. When you look at me and what I have been able to accomplish, you should know that it has been through no goodness of my own. I have worked hard to align myself with the scripture that talks about faith and works. These days, I am compelled to be as transparent as possible because I want to be a beacon. Be clear: Everything that I am is because of God. I assure you, His favor can not be matched by any other relationship or alliance we could possibly make.
My mom. I am the embodiment of sacrifice. I appreciate so much that my mom chose my brothers and me first. She didn't bring men in and out of our house, she raised us in church, she worked to provide for us, and made sure that there was consistency and structure in our home. When I came to crossroads in my life — from traveling abroad as a teen, to going to college and deciding to go out into the world with my move in 2006 — she always supported me and affirmed my desire to achieve beyond my circumstance. I appreciate that she is always my mother first, and did not blur the lines of friend and parent before I was mature enough for an evolution of our relationship. Not only did she offer wise guidance in words, she offered it by example.
My grandfather. My maternal grandfather is an icon for me. Period. I haven't known a greater man. He died in 2006, but I very much think of him in the present tense because his impression on me was everlasting. Achie Matthews didn't receive a formal education beyond spotty opportunities to attend school through the 6th grade, but he had an insatiable thirst for knowledge and reverence for education that was mind-boggling. He took a formal class at the public library in my hometown to learn to read at 74, though he had been studying scriptures and preaching sermons for decades. He, with my grandmother, was a present, providing and empowering father to 15 children. And my cousins and I were fortunate to know him as he aged as both caregivers and his friends. He told me once, while I was a young news reporter, that the most important thing I had was my name and that I should work to make it — alone — enough. My favorite anecdote about him ... When he turned 85, the high school in the township where he lived awarded him an honorary high school diploma in a formal ceremony. It was one of the highlights of my life — one because I believed it fit his outlook and respect for education. What I didn't expect to come of it though was that he'd be hoping to attend college after. I thought it was the funniest thing ever. He was serious. I learned my best lesson from him in that moment: Never stop reaching.