In the Seed office hangs a handmade quilt, created by my 1992-93 first and second graders. It was made as part of our annual human rights study, which emphasized advocacy for human rights and devotion to making change in the world to improve the lives of others. One of the students in my class that year was Danielle Draper. Her photo, along with the pictures of her classmates who were the artists, hangs beside the quilt to this day.
An announcement arrived in the mail last week from Danielle. In May she will graduate from the University of Arizona College of Medicine and then continue her training with a residency in Family Medicine in Martinez, California. That alone is a major accomplishment and something of which all of us who knew Danielle are very proud. But the story gets better.
Attached to the graduation announcement was a letter written by Danielle, as well as one by a 19-year-old young woman she met on the front steps of her house in New Orleans, five years ago after Katrina devastated the Lower Ninth Ward. Franisha, then 14 and one of fifteen children in her family, survived the hurricane and against great odds, went on to become quite a scholar. She will graduate from high school later this spring and is planning to attend Grambling State University on a scholarship. She will be a first generation college student in her family and plans to be a teacher. In her words, “The reason I strive so hard to succeed in school and become a teacher is so that I can help kids like me who do not have all of the things growing up that I wished for when I was little.”
Danielle is asking that in lieu of sending a gift for her own graduation from medical school, we consider giving money to help with Franisha’s college expenses. When I read this, my heart was warmed by both stories. I thought back to our 1st/2nd grade study of human rights and advocacy for who need someone to stand up for them. Everything I ever hoped for in making a school that would foster stewardship for the planet and each other has come true in Danielle and Franisha’s story. Granted, Danielle is a compassionate, caring young woman because it’s in her nature and she’s been that way all along. She may have chosen the path she has without any influence from the Seed. However, I like to believe that our studies of Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad in some small way have made a difference. As Seeds like Danielle grow into adulthood, they will unquestionably continue making a difference. This is why we do what we do at the Seed.