In April of 2016, an interview of rapper Birdman went viral when he said, “I just come here to let y’all know to put some respeck (respect) on my name.” He believed the interviewers were making light of a recent event and disrespecting his very existence. This has become a catchphrase in the African-American community and when referenced laughter ensues.
This colloquialism caused me to reflect on my newly acquired honors as a recent graduate. I have obtained principal certification and a Masters in Educational Administration from Lamar University. This was an important accomplishment in that I am more aware of current trends and armed with additional knowledge to influence future policies in the reformation of education. As I continue to advocate for at-risk populations, I understand the diverse needs that accompany the classification “at-risk.” I am well aware of the stigmas that overshadow those categorized as low-income and low-performing as unintelligent or troublesome. I realize that some people simply have a difficult time pulling themselves out of dire situations due to their background, lack of resources, the plight of their neighborhood, violence, and/or a shortage of healthy role models in which to fashion themselves. They just need a little help to rise above the ashes.
As I answer my calling to help others and inspire children to reach their full potential, I will seek to understand and respect those I serve while simultaneously empowering and building confidence in the community. My degree will not be an ornament on my desk but a tool to build bridges and tear down walls. With the new addition of three letters, I proudly embrace my new title Aisha Ussery, M. Ed. (Master of Education).