Alishea Sutton

Strategic – Intentional – Visionary

Redefining. Unlearning. Processing.

This will not be a typical post, but one of thoughts and experiences I’ve had over the past two months.

I decided to enroll in school last year after being rejected from numerous jobs. I was miserable at my former employer – I didn’t feel challenged and it was a toxic environment so my mental and physical health were a mess. Not only was I treated poorly, but the population we served was being pacified and I saw no real change. I recently had an epiphany that really summarized how I felt about that experience – you can’t change the Black community, Black infant mortality rates if you don’t care about Black people.

It’s a radical thought, but that’s how I feel. So when I decided to go back to school, I made a purposeful decision to attend a school where I could learn and make connections. I didn’t want to go to school just to get another degree. I wanted to have an experience of growth and learning.

What I found when I enrolled and attended school was just that – growth and learning, but not in the way I expected. I am in the process of unlearning everything I was taught about education and my life. Learning that most of what I thought about myself was a lie because of negative things that were said to me growing up that shaped a poor image of myself. Learning that perception belongs to the observer and can change based on the individual. Thinking critically and problem solving. Speaking up when I was always encouraged to stay silent. Eliminating excuses and pushing fear aside.

Now when I look back on my reason for attending graduate school for the second time, I’m so glad I did it. I had people ask why I didn’t attend a closer university. My reason – I would not have had the same experience that I am having now. I would’ve been in the same mindset of surviving and thriving instead of learning.

So you may be thinking what am I learning at graduate school? I’m learning how to rethink graduate school as a tool to be bold and courageous. To step outside of the norm and make a radical change. One thing that sticks out is peacemakers don’t make change. Sometimes resistance and being a non-conformist has its place. Sometimes people have to be uncomfortable in academic settings to learn something new and understand why that discomfort exists.

As I continue on this journey, I expect a change in how I write, advocate, pursue passions and making connections.

But change is good. It’s necessary. It’s happening.

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