Shondell France (Class of 2013), Guyana



"I was not supposed to be here. The circumstances of my birth and early life gave no indication that I would ever accomplish anything, and, as a child, I felt quite insignificant and inadequate. However, a deep desire not to repeat the mistakes of generations past, couple with hard work, commitment, and tenacity in the face of challenges, have helped me become who I am today. Now, I am working with youth in my community to help them discover their strengths amidst challenges and learn to live peacefully with themselves, their families, and community.

 

When a pebble is dropped into a pool, the ripple effects are seen long after the pebble has sunk to the bottom. In the same way, my experiences in this Master's program will have ripple effects seen and felt long after I have graduated.

 

This Kathryn W. Davis Peacebuilding Concentration expands my frame of reference and gives me the hands-on experience and training I need to plan more strategically to achieve my goal in a sustainable way. I want to use what I learn as stepping stones for action that will improve the lives of youth in my community and country.

 

I plan to use my life story in my work with vulnerable youth, not just as a badge of pride, but more as an inspiration to overcome and reinforce that humble beginnings do not determine the measure of one's life - strong endings do."