Catreese Qualls, Student
Catreese Qualls is a non-traditional student and mother who serves as the Division III International Vice President of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. She is a businesswoman; diversity, equity and inclusion mentor; and a Schoolcraft Scholar studying social work with an emphasis on urban studies. Catreese is a community advocate dedicated to empowering unrepresented and at-risk populations.
To help celebrate Black History Month, we’re pleased to share “My Story, My Voice,” a series of essays written by Schoolcraft College students, faculty, staff and alumni. Please go to schoolcraft.edu/BHM to read the complete collection.
By Catreese Qualls, Student
Closed doors, redirected pathways, carrying the burden while others reaped the harvest is the truth that’s helped to shape My Story! I’ve walked boldly in the face of adversity with bronzed feet, weathered cheeks, tear-filled eyes and a can-do spirit that will not be broken. Today I stand mighty, compelled by the blood, sweat, tears and rich history of those who laid the foundation beneath me. I’ve witnessed a perpetual war waged against children that looked like me; unequal education, housing inequities, food and financial insecurities and socioeconomic status all stamped denied. I’ve survived this ill contempt, elevating above these injustices to keep the torch aflame for those who shined it before me.
I lay myself out as a blueprint for others to follow. African Americans can no longer afford to merely exist in mediocracy, nor afford to walk in the unbridled ignorance of those who seek to perpetuate centuries old oppressive behaviors. No! It has been declared that we should transition into a life filled with equity, promise and a hope of a better tomorrow. As a minority, a mother, and non-traditional student leader, I speak on behalf of those oppressed, underrepresented, stigmatized, stereotyped and otherwise rejected.
I use the legacy and fullness of the awakened warriors to run forward, speak the truth, denounce ignorance and dissolve hatred. Daily I overcome obstacles and breakdown barriers to challenge the status quo. I am a reflection of Sojourner Truth, forged in the unbreakable, unshakable and unmatched grit of my heroes of today: Venus & Serena, women embalmed by circumstance. Because of them and every other little girl and boy who would otherwise be silenced, I lift my voice to celebrate who I am.