I am Deandre “Dre” Lee, and I am from Ahoskie, NC. I am a first-generation college student coming from a low-income area. I spent most of my life living in Northampton County, a rural county with few resources or opportunities. I grew up with a single mother, and she inspired me to share my story. As a child, I lived in a rural area with a high poverty rate; my family lived in poverty for decades, and we were often homeless, sometimes living with other people to get by. Our poverty contributed to many of my mental health issues, and it caused me to suffer from depression and anxiety. It was traumatic to watch my mom struggle and work multiple jobs to survive daily. I made it my goal to use the school as a gateway to make my life better.
I decided to take school seriously and attend North Carolina Central University to major in social work. During my time, I lost many close people, including my great grandmother Helen Bell. I struggled with maintaining a personal life while being a college student. Still, I had to adjust to balancing schoolwork, working more than one job, providing for myself and my family, and prioritizing my time with several organizations. With many trials, I graduated in the Fall of 2020 with a Bachelor of Social Work, receiving the student service impact award and Magna Cum Laude while striving into the world of COVID-19. I knew I made the right choice finishing school, despite the many times I wanted to give up. I hope to inspire many people with my personal story, and I desire to inspire others in life based on my life story. I currently work at the Salvation Army in my field as a caseworker, using direct practice in social work. I want to attend graduate school to become a college professor and therapist.
My struggles with growing up in poverty made me a strong individual. Nobody in my circle influenced me to attend college and made a difference in my life. I learned the value of hard work and dedication after watching my mom work multiple jobs so my siblings and I can have what we need. My biggest concern was repeating the cycle and living my life like her when I become an adult. I value being independent, and it motivates me to work hard for what I need in my life. Throughout many struggles I have encountered, I never realized the obstacles I overcame. I always sold myself short, but I never gave up on my dream of wanting to be successful. I have a long way to go, but I am very determined to be a therapist and an excellent social worker.
The GlobalMindED Inclusive Leadership Program influenced my professional path greatly. The staff members’ support is phenomenal, and I’m grateful for all the opportunities that developed my mindset on accomplishing my goals. My professional mentor, Ashley, is my challenger and champion—so I can be my best in all areas of life. GlobalMindED has done a remarkable job expressing the equity gap’s concern and creating a capable, diverse talent pipeline through connections to role models, mentors, internships for low-income students, and returning adults. Their motive to support first-generation students motivated me to apply to become an Ambassador to further share my voice. With this opportunity granted, I can better realize my goals of working with first-generation college students in my future career. I look forward to sharing what I have been given with other people, especially people who can relate to me and my story.