Against All Odds
Story: Alaysia Taylor
"Against All Odds" is about beating everything that sets out to destroy you, overcoming generational curses, and refusing to be a product of your environment. Our story stars Rah’Jai Cheri Henderson, age twenty-one, a senior studying Human Development, with an emphasis in Psychology and a minor in Women’s Studies. As I write from her lens and dive deeper into a story we don’t hear very often, I must tell you that I hope this story pulls on your heartstrings.
I grew up in Kansas City, Missouri (heavy on the Missouri), and attended Southeast High School located on 63rd, and if you aren’t from there you have no idea what that means. I didn’t grow up in the suburbs or in a community that you’d consider kid-friendly. It wasn’t one that even you yourself may want to raise a child in. My childhood was inconsistent – unpredictable may be a better word for it. There wasn’t much stability in where I would be or who I would be with. My mother had me at a very young age, so we grew up with more of a sibling relationship than a mother-daughter one. Years ago, she went away for a total of six years, so my grandparents stepped in. Grandma was now Mama, and Grandpa was always like my father, but they were now officially the parental figures in my sister’s and my life. The experience of my mom going away was traumatic. Going to visit once a month at such a young age and hearing the loud crashing and yelling in the background was something that could scar any child no matter the age. Because she was away for so long, my mother didn’t see me graduate high school, which was a huge milestone and something I was proud to have done. Fast-forward, I head off to Stephens College with the support of my grandma and grandpa. Freshman year was my first time being away from home, and not long after, the only father I ever knew passed away due to throat cancer. It felt like he ceased to exist. I could no longer hear his laughter or laugh at how silly he could be anymore! This broke me, and no one seemed to notice. I went on with life and turned to alcohol and weed. My grades plummeted, and for a while, I wallowed in this pain. It made me feel more alone than ever. I joined a campus ministry, but no matter how many times I brought up this thing that made me feel like I was the one dying, this pain that was so hard to explain, no one seemed to understand or be of any help. I was out one night with friends drinking and trying to forget as usual, but that time, I realized that something could have gone wrong. I started to become more aware of what I was doing with my time and who I spent it with. Time has passed and I have decided to not just go to a campus ministry, but live for God and serve Jesus Christ. Someone once asked me what gives me hope, and I had two different answers. Before Christ, it was the desire to be successful and unlike anyone else I ever knew that gave me hope and kept me going, but at the first sign of trouble, all the things I once clung to were no longer strong enough to hold me up. Now, after finding Christ, I can proudly say that with the knowledge that comes from knowing Christ Jesus, the love that comes with, and the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), I continue to want to grow and know Him deeper; He is what gives me hope! I always had good grades and was doing everything in my power to break this mold, the stereotypes and stigmas that followed my name like a bad habit. Let's be honest here, if those came true, I should be strung off drugs, I should have had a baby at the age of fifteen, I should have dropped out of high school and I for sure shouldn’t be graduating from College in May — but ONLY GOD!!