ESSAY PROMPT: Please compose a 500-600 word essay that addresses each of the following questions: Reflecting on your participation in the 20/20 Leadership program, how have you grown as a leader? How will you use what you’ve learned in the future? What does “leaving a legacy” mean to you?

Alumni 23

Legacy to me is Toni Morrison. Toni Morrison was an African-American novelist, who spent years furthering her education, before going on to teach at the institutions she studied at. She would teach at Howard University for seven years, and then transfer to a publishing company where she would discover her passion for writing. Morrison would go on to be the first American-American woman to win a Nobel Prize in Literature for her splendiferous works such as “Song of Solomon,” “Beloved,” “Jazz” and other novels that displayed the life of Black Americans. Beloved would also win her other awards prior to her Nobel Prize, and be a Bestseller for 25 weeks in 1987. The novel would also be made into a film starring well-known actors such as Danny Glover, Thandie Newton, and Kimberly Elise. Morrison’s work earned her an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Oxford, and this furthered her range as a writer, as she began writing children’s books with her youngest son before his passing in 2010 and her passing in 2019. 

I chose Toni Morrison because she is everything I can see myself being. A poet, a novelist, a strong African-American woman who never cut herself short when it came to opportunities for what she wanted to accomplish. She broke the color barriers in the literature industry, and proved that your skin color doesn’t determine how much you can accomplish.  I would like to further my education at Regis University of Colorado or Langston University of Oklahoma, and be a part of one of their writing programs just like her. Choosing to do so will make my legacy a stepping stone of importance as I will be another woman of color contributing to the literary works of all those before me, including Toni Morrison. 

Along with legacy, there’s also all of the skills I’ve learned whilst being a 20/20 leader. I was invited to be a part of the 20/20 program my junior year and it has given me multiple opportunities whether that be college visits or workshops with organizations that connect to life after high school. Some skills the program has provided me are public speaking, encouragement to talk to people I’ve never met, leadership skills, and also team-building skills. Firstly, public speaking is a highly useful skill as it can be used everyday for simple conversations. Being encouraged to talk to people you’ve never met can be the start of a valuable connection and friendship that will bring nothing but bliss for your life ahead. Leadership skills are something that I feel you need to survive because it can be used to lead yourself or others in the right direction. Lastly, there’s team-building skills. Team-building is learning to work with someone other than yourself, and people you know. I will use these skills to continue being a leader and make a difference in the world around me in more ways than currently do. 

Overall, being in 20/20 has brought nothing but great things. I’ve grown to like meeting new people, and also working with a team. I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunities I was and I’m still given when it comes to becoming the best me for now, and for the future as well. I want to use my skills to spread awareness of the injustice of Black Americans all over the world, especially in America, and also share my love of food. I hope  20/20 presents me with many more opportunities as I continue growing as an individual in the real world.