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Posted 2/17/21

Hi, my name is Ayiana Courtney. I am currently a senior attending Northview High School and I have had many different dreams of what my future would be since I was little. I have wanted to be almost everything in the world. I have wanted to be a NASCAR driver, a lawyer, a doctor, a judge, a tennis player, an astronaut and much more. I'm currently working on attending college to be a pharmacist and I have been accepted into 11 different colleges so far. Now, it’s just up to me to find the right one. As of right now, I am working on finding the right college to help me gain a commission in the United States Navy and send me on a path to success. But I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am today if it weren’t for six important figures in my life. My life has been influenced so much by my ROTC instructors; Chief Jeffrey Simpkins and Commander Shane Ahalt, my parents; Leon and Paris Courtney and the two true pioneers; Madame CJ Walker and Shirley Chisholm.


The summer before my freshman year was the first time I met Chief Simpkins and from that first moment we met till now he has taught me some valuable information. He has coached me through all of my 4 years of high school to be the best that I can be and how to be better than my competition. Because of him pushing me to do that, this year I had the honor of being the Executive Officer (XO) of the unit. And now I get to be the encouragement to the cadets. He has created an amazing environment for me to thrive in and for that I am very grateful for him. Commander, even though I just met him this year. I have learned that a person doesn’t have to be in your life very long to try to have an influence on you. He has lived my dreams of becoming an officer in the Navy and he is helping me apply to colleges that will hopefully allow me to be awarded an ROTC scholarship and helping me in general apply to college to do what I want to do. They have helped me just as much as my parents in applying to college.


My parents are Leon and Paris Courtney. They have literally been with me every step of the way to me being successful in life. I have always been on the smarter side of things and my parents always taught me no matter who or what your competition is, try to be on top. The first dream that I had when I was growing up was a doctor and my parents wanted to help me get my foot in the door of whatever I want to do. Then when I was in middle school, I changed the whole route and I wanted to be a judge. They had me research about that career to make sure that I want to make that major change. And during my sophomore year, I decided that I want to be a pharmacist. They helped me research some of the best pharmacy schools in the nation. My parents have influenced me by being the strong people that they are. From my dad being in the military, he has made me want to do exactly what he does. And that is to serve our country and also enjoy life. However, he told me don’t do what he did by enlisting because he wants me to have the advantages that becoming an officer in the military would give me. And make way better decisions, so that I won’t have to struggle in life.


The reason that Madam C.J. Walker and Shirley Chisholm have influenced me positively because, like them, I am a dark skinned female. As such, it is hard to get your foot in most doors because of my skin tone. But they persevered and did what they had to do. I have wanted to be like them since I was little. Madam C.J. Walker was one of the most successful black women of her time. And that’s what I aspire to be. Same with Shirely Chisholm, she was the first African American woman in congress in 1968. She then ran for president unsuccessfully but of course did not win. She had the confidence that I have always wanted. One of my favorite quotes by her is that “ If they don’t give you a chair at the table, bring in a folding chair.” That is a very inspiring quote to me because I will be as successful as them and if someone impedes my chances then I will make a way.


To conclude, my life has been very positively impacted by my ROTC instructors, my parents and two very iconic women. I am grateful that thus far in my life I have gotten as far as I have with all the odds stacked against me. But due to all these people, I have had so many opportunities come my way. And I will be using them all to my advantage so that in my life or even after, I can be an important figure to a little girl or boy.