On October 7, 2014, for the 20th anniversary of the Catalog for Giving, Girls Write Now mentee Shirleyka Hector was honored at the Urban Heroes Award Benefit by the Girls Write Now Board of Directors. Hector was one of twelve youth honorees that evening.
“Thanks to the Catalog and Girls Write Now, I can say that I embrace the person I am today wholeheartedly, for I have found a community where I feel loved at all times,” said Hector. “I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be part of such an amazing family.”
Joining Hector at the event was her school counselor, Sean Burke. “Working with Shirleyka is a true pleasure,” said Burke. “She is inspiring, talented, generous, and a young woman with incredible confidence and spirit. When she sets her sights on something, she achieves it. She wants to write a book and I have no doubt she will.”
Below, read Shirleyka’s biography, which was published in the evening’s program. Congratulations, Shirleyka!
I was born in 1997 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. After the earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, I moved to New York shortly after. I am currently a junior at the International High School at Lafayette. My journey has not been easy thus far, but with strength and courage, I keep moving forward.
Moving to New York was the biggest turning point in my life. I got bullied at school for being an immigrant. I cried a lot because I had no one to help me cope with that issue. As a result, I turned to writing in hopes of fleeing this mad world and finding my purpose as a human being. Writing became the most effective form of therapy for me.
I had people tell me that I was not intelligent enough. I heard those people of course, but their words did not matter because I knew my destination. I became a tutor and I was the one tutoring my bullies in every single subject, even in English, which brought an inexplicable joy to my heart. The lesson I learned is that people will always have something negative to say but you choose what the effect is going to be; you can either let them build you or break you.
To seal the bottle, when I found out about Girls Write Now, I was in a state of ecstasy! I got paired with an amazing mentor who has been nothing less than an inspiration to me. Girls Write Now has entirely changed my life, for I found a place where I always feel welcome. Being part of the Girls Write Now community definitely completed me. Girls Write Now has made me stronger, more outspoken, and more determined to accomplish my goals.