Education and Opportunities

Provocation Piece

Mona Dickson

Mona Dixon and her family lived on the streets and moved from one homeless shelter to another until the age of 13. A few short years later she was honored by The President of the United States in the Oval Office.

After receiving her coveted Boys & Girls Clubs of America “National Youth of the Year Award,” Mona was appointed to serve as the youngest member of a U.S. Presidential Committee alongside four other distinguished individuals.

At 18, Mona was also named one of the “Most Influential Black Women,” alongside Oprah and Michelle Obama, by Essence Magazine. This has all led to her being awarded over $100,000 in scholarships, sharing the stage with “A” list celebrities, being featured in the national media, and starring in a national campaign commercial with Mark Wahlberg.

Mona, at 26, is currently pursuing her Ph.D in Organizational Leadership and is a teen empowerment leader, international keynote speaker, and success coach.

“When I was a little girl, I remember reading my paperback school books under the streetlights. Living on the streets in San Diego and Arizona was difficult but trying to get to school every single day was even harder. I often did not have enough money to pay for my trolley (a train that that transports people around the city) fare so my sister and I would have to sneak on and hope that we did not get caught by the security officers so we could avoid getting a ticket that would cost more than fare in the first place. Why is it that we had to go through so much trouble to get to school to get an education that we deserved just as much as the next child? When I got to school, I wondered how I was expected to focus when I had real-life issues to worry about at such a young age. Sometimes I did not even eat breakfast before school.

However, despite what we were going through, my mom always believed in me and she told me that I had to work hard in school because I needed to go to college. She told me college was my way out. I believed her and I did whatever I could to do well in school. I stayed on the honor roll, I participated in clubs, I played sports, and I always gave back to my community through community service.

What my mom said turned out to be true because with the support of the Boys & Girls Club, I graduated from high school 3rd in my class and received a full-ride scholarship to Barrett, The Honors College and W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. The Boys & Girls Club was a place I went every day after school and had mentors and friends. I could do my homework there, play, join sports, and participate in leadership clubs. That is where I grew the most!

I then went on to receive my graduate degree, and now I am finishing up my doctoral degree.

When I was a little girl, no one would have imagined that I would be where I am today. Even I did not believe in myself at times. However, I was given a chance. There were others who invested in me, believed in me, and gave me opportunities. They did not give up on me, forget about me, or thought that I was less than them. In today’s world, we need more of this!

Imagine how much potential is being lost because particular groups of individuals are not given the same opportunities as others. We never know which little girl may soon grow up to be doctor, lawyer, entrepreneur, teacher, or even be the scientist who discovers a cure for a major disease. We have to do what we can to help them find themselves and develop their hidden talents. Everyone was put on this Earth for a reason with a gift to contribute to society and it is up to us to help each other grow! Every person deserves to use their gift to serve the world around them.

Some people ask me why I continue to go to school and I tell them that knowledge is power! My education is priceless! Unlike material things, my knowledge, resilience, and other soft skills, can never be taken from me. My education has empowered me, taught me how to think critically, and helped me become a leader for others. My education has led to many opportunities and helped me become the best version of myself. Every single person deserves to reach their full potential! Every person deserves a chance to learn and to grow! If we do not allow all individuals to attain an education, everyone loses something in one way or another.

The work that the National Advisory Council on Women and Girls does is powerful. Nothing can be changed if we do not stand up for ourselves and start the conversation on gender inequalities first.

Equality in education is a very important issue that cannot be tackled alone. Join the conversation now to help bring more awareness to this cause and do what you can to make a difference.

If it were not for organizations such as the National Advisory Council on Women and Girls, women and girls would still get treated as “less than,” and we all know that women and girls have so much to offer the world if they just have the chance! The National Advisory Council on Women and Girls is paving the way to create positive change.

If you have the power to make a difference in providing education to everyone, do it. Start now and change the world forever. If you have a platform or a voice that is amplified, bring attention to the need for equality in education. Every little effort adds up!”