"What gives me hope for the future is this generation, with young folks who not only show up and show out for causes that they believe in but also actively educate others who are not so informed. I definitely know that we will all change the world. We're just taking it one step at a time."
Michell-Lee Graham, an alumna of Boys Hope Girls Hope New York, recently graduated from high school and will soon start classes at DePauw University in Indiana. She plans to focus on political science and philosophy. She earned a prestigious Posse Foundation scholarship that will fully cover her tuition.
Michell-Lee joined Boys Hope Girls Hope as her parents were parents were going through a tough time. She was living with her mother, brother, and grandmother in the Bronx. She wanted to find an opportunity to get a better education and pursue her dreams.
“Living in the dorm gave me a sense of sisterhood. I could always be myself. It was like a second family,” Michell-Lee said about the experience. In describing how the opportunity to join Boys Hope Girls Hope made a difference, Michell-Lee noted, “At home, I would have had a lot more distractions. I had the opportunity to stay focused and do what I want to do now.”
Michell-Lee has always been interested in politics and the law, and in high school, she spent three summers interning at the New York Police Department. She had the opportunity to provide workshops in the community to educate people about their rights and what to do if the police stop them.
When asked about the current civil rights movement, Michell-Lee said, “What gives me hope for the future is this generation, with young folks who not only show up and show out for causes that they believe in but also actively educate others who are not so informed. This gives me hope because growing up in this political climate, you’d only hope that there are others out there who like you are fighting the good fight by educating, lobbying, marching and rallying as we all are future lawmakers, judges, doctors, and nurses. I definitely know that we will all change the world. We’re just taking it one step at a time.”
Michell-Lee intends to go into the Army after college and become a lawyer, living in DC with a big family and a couple of dogs. Ultimately, she hopes to develop a career as a diplomat and someday become Secretary of Defense.
“I hope that my work and my life will impact others to not only speak up and use their voice but to be themselves,” Michell-Lee said, “Not everyone wants to be an activist or a ‘revolutionary,‘ so finding what you’re good at and passionate about will help you move through the world easier. Something I’ve always commended myself on was staying true to me, even while working on certain issues, or with certain groups or partnerships. I always remember what I was there for and who I was there for, never forgetting where I came from. “