Last Wednesday I attended career day at Overbrook High School, my Alma Mater. At first, I thought of a whole bunch of reasons not to go, one reason being that my high school years sucked and I absolutely hated that school.  After much thought, I put my own insecurities aside and decided that giving back to the young people was way more important than the bad experiences I had as a student.

When I stepped inside those walls after twelve years, I was overwhelmed with so much emotion. This was the place that it all started; my dreams and my ambitions to become a writer were planted in this very school. I was taken aback when my old guidance counselor greeted me at the door with a huge hug and a bright smile.

As all of the Alumni participating in the event parted ways to our perspective classrooms to discuss our career paths, I thought about what message I wanted the youth to receive from my experience at Overbrook and my chosen career path. Yes, I work with youth daily, but these particular students were sitting in the desks I used to sit in and were being taught and nurtured by the same teachers that helped shape who I am today.

When it was finally my time to speak, I decided to not only discuss my career, but the mistakes and mishaps that led me to where I am today,too. I wanted to show them that no, I wasn’t perfect, I didn’t come from a rich two parent household from the suburbs, and that I took some of the bad habits that I acquired during my years at Overbrook and thought it was okay to bring them to college.

In talking with the young people, I noticed that they too shared some of the same frustrations I had when I was a student there: no extracurricular activities, staff/teachers didn’t care and most importantly lack of encouragement.  This caused me to reflect on my own experience as a student and it was then that I realized while I may have felt as though I didn’t learn anything or that I didn’t have the encouragement of my teachers, I did. It was evident when I walked through the doors that morning and the same counselor that helped me get into college was still devoting her career to helping urban youth break the mold.

The advice I offered the young people was quite simple:  Take today as a day to be inspired. Dream big and big things will happen. It may seem that you are not cared for, but look at the little things: a teacher telling you to sit down and pay attention, correcting your work when it is wrong, and holding accountable for your actions. Those were all ways (subliminal messages) that confirmed that the teachers cared about them. I wanted them to know that they possessed the power to determine their own success and that nobody was able to take that away from them unless they let them.

Although high school was not the most memorable time of my life, attending Overbrook gave me character.  In a sense going to Overbrook gave me the determination I needed to be consistent in my goals and everyday life.

The day after, I wore my Overbrook Pride T-shirt. This Alum has a new love for her past and overwhelming optimism for her future.  GO PANTHERS!

What was your fondest memory of your high school career? Who was the most influential teacher/counselor you encountered during high school and why?

Although Anya Nicole grew up in a drug and crime plagued household and neighborhood in Philadelphia, she strived to break the mold and became the first person in her family to graduate from college. Anya uses the world around her as a palate to create chilling street stories such as Corporate Corner Boyz (2008) and Judgment Day (2010). Divas, Diamonds & Dollars (June 2010) is Anya’s first project under her publishing house, Black Reign Publications. When she’s not writing, she’s counseling young people who have dropped out of high school and are seeking their GED.

© 2010, Shalena D.I.V.A. – Personal Branding| Content Marketing| Product Creation. All rights reserved.


  1. via Facebook on May 18, 2011 at 11:57 am

    i had an interesting high school experience. I love the people I attended school with, but I felt like my high school years were weird, it is the beginning of my spiritual awakening. I attended a church that didn’t allow us to go on proms or school dances; therefore, i didn’t attend them and I felt left out. I was cool, but not one in the “in crowd” for sure. But ast my school, it didn’t really matter. We were a bunch of nerds anyway. I think my scholl prepared me academically for sure. But high school was weird for me.

  2. Roger Duncan via Facebook on May 18, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    My one piece of advice to any high schooler would be, it don’t last always, meaning what troubles or pressures you think your facing now is not insurmountable and will be gone before you know it. Look to tomorrow and don’t concentrate so much on today, there is a whole new world waiting for you to conquer.

  3. via Facebook on May 18, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    @Roger–that is exactly what i would say, too. I think our kids are thinking high school is the end all be all and it’s not. It saddens me when they drop oout or kill themselves because of bullies. Shoot! In a couple of years, they’ll be the bullies boss.

  4. Tempty Alvin via Facebook on May 18, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    in ur days it was kald global setin,it later bcam warm so dey kald it global warmin bt nw i guez its al abt it bin hot,so i kal it global boilin,my advice states dat if u mst exel in lif,u mst wrk 4it or 2wrd achievin it,pas dis on 2dem who has ears and willin 2make gud use of it…

  5. Reanader Hamlin via Facebook on May 18, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    If i could go back and talk to myself as a teen i would tell me to hang in there i didnt have the clothes and things like that to the point where i dropped out and started working if i could go back i would go in rags if i had to

  6. Juivon P. Williams via Facebook on May 18, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    I think kids now have a lot of opportunities than back in the day, where education & sports/ extra curricular activities are concerned. I’d say, like I say to my babies, grasp every opportunity that helps you achieve your goal in life, from this make yourselves men/women, establish a foundation to leave a legacy b4 taking on the responsibility of serious relatonships, marriage & children & Over all put your God first…

  7. Anita Wilson via Facebook on May 18, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    My strong advice to all teenagers… is to stay in scool and stay focus… Dont let the streets encourage you tht there is something in them cuz its not as a matter of fact they r going to continue to b there … there is nothing but problems in the streets anyways…. so live for today and strive for a better tomorrow… cuz tomorrow not promised to no one

  8. Keiwaine Hicks via Facebook on May 18, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    I tell all kids: 1. You need to be self-motivated and self-disciplined. Parents do a disservice to their kids by motivating them extrinsically and focusing on their results, rather than the effort and process. Give kids rewards or promises for report cards grades, Standardized Test scores, etc. sends a very bad message to the kid. You can only dangle that carrot in front of them for so long because as the kid gets older, it will not work.

  9. via Facebook on May 18, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Y’all are right! We’re so impressionable back then and focus on the wrong stuff.

  10. Karen Wilson via Facebook on May 18, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    My mother use to say during that time. That these are best yrs of your life and at the time I didn’t blieve that nor did I want to hear it, but she was so right. I wanted to drop out of high school best subject was lunch and PE I never studied but got C’s, turning point was getting job in. Mill at 16, got into a college found out I was smart and popular, now I have a Masters as I reflect just wasn’t challenged, just enjoy that time and do your best, if you best is not an A, don’t consider yourself a failure.

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