We sometimes take education for granted. But for many education is the only means to rise above many things in life. Today’s story is written by Ms. Sherreal Hammond, who is a hardworking and sincere laboratory technician in the biotech lab where our storyteller Dr.Amrita Madabushi teaches. She is an absolute inspiration for many who work around her. There are many facets to her life that are inspiring but today she shares her story that is eye-opening, chilling and extremely inspiring.

Education saved my life. As a child I grew up in a violent neighborhood in America, which I still refer to as a “war zone”.  I remember seeing people die on a daily basis. While I was in elementary school, I can never forget that day when my brother and I told a friend that we will meet with him after the school. We never did, because he was murdered while we were in class.  This was quite common for us and the odds were surely stacked against us.  This was not the life I wanted for myself.  I had wonderful teachers who would tell us every day that education was our only way out. They would encourage us to try very hard to study and to always come to school.  

Although the violence became a part in my life, I chose to listen to my teachers. I did not spend too much time out side playing.  I preferred to go to the library to read and study.  Spending time in the library kept me away from the violence that was plaguing everyone.  I recall hearing gun shots every night and having to stay away from my bedroom window for fear of a stray bullet accidently killing me. And I would read every night to keep myself from being interested in the events occurring outside.  As a result of this, reading became my escape as well as my hope. Years later, after I graduated from high school, I had lost many neighborhood friends to prison, death, and unfortunate situations.  I saw my teacher’s words come true and education was the very reason I got out of there.

In addition, having a solid formal education has completely changed my life. In my adult life there was a period when I would move from job to job never thinking of any type of career.  While attending classes, one day I had the wonderful opportunity to be exposed to a biological laboratory.  I instantly fell in love with the work that was being done in the lab, so from that day I found myself a goal, to become a laboratory technician. Before I received my Associates degree in Biotechnology, my life was not how I wanted it to be. I became the first college graduate and that too in science in my family!  

As a result of the education I received I am very happy to say that at this present moment in my life, I am working as a laboratory tech at my school from where I graduated. Education has giving me a career that I love and enjoy. I often reflect on my past and think, giving a child the option of education can change the child’s entire outcome in this world. I am a wonderful example of this. If education was not an option for me, I do not know if I would even be alive today.   Becoming educated saved my life on so many levels and changed it in ways I could never image.