This poem was written by Justin J. Bell, a Class of 2020 Scholar, for his end of year presentation. It brought tears to the Board of Director's eyes and we are profoundly moved by Justin's experience with the program. Justin graduated from Stetson University College of Law and recently completed the Florida Bar Exam.
It’s been said that the only impossible journey
Is the journey you never begin.
But I started my law school journey with some doubt,
At times I doubted if I’d finish- yet alone win.
I started the journey confused,
Questioning my identity.
I mean how could I not have all these questions
When the majority did not look or sound like me?
But then my law school journey merged into the Journey to Esquire,
Which helped me regain my identity.
The DIVERSITY module restored my confidence
And made me proud to be called “a minority”.
I learned the difference between equality and equity.
I learned that bias is not always known.
I learned the importance of addressing systematic bias
And how diversity and inclusion can make work feel like home.
But as a fist generation law student,
I needed more than just my confidence restored.
I needed to learn how to maneuver-
How to shake the right hands and get my feet in the door.
And for that, Journey to Esquire gave me ACCESS
By showing the importance of networking and mentorship.
This journey showed me that it’s not only about being a hard worker,
But that you must also know the right people and be well equipped.
Growing up in the Mississippi Delta,
The most famous PIPELINE was from the school to the prison.
Instead of graduating most classmates dropped out or were locked up
And most role models were either rapping or dribblin’.
But while on this Journey to Esquire,
I was introduced to a new vision.
One that showed me, “I have to do more than just make it out”-
I have to turn around, give back, and help others when I’m winnin’.
I used to think I needed money,
Power, and fame to truly live,
But this Journey has taught me though we build a life with what we gain,
We change a life with what we give.
You see, on this Journey I’ve learned
That paying it forward is a debt that I owe,
Because it allows me to lay another pipeline for those coming after me-
One that will plant, nurture, and help those younger seeds grow.
This Journey has truly prepared me
For the time when I will have to make the big decisions.
I’ve learned that you have to expect the unexpected
Even when you enter the year with 2020 vision.
So thank you Journey to Esquire,
For equipping me with the tools to keep a steady pace.
I’m forever indebted to you
For showing me how Determination, Authenticity, and Purpose will help me finish the race.
Copyright Justin J. Bell
These posts were proofread by Grammarly
Joseline J. Hardrick is the Founder and President of Diversity Access Pipeline, Inc. She is also an author, professor, and lawyer and resides in Tampa Bay, Florida. Guest bloggers are students in the Journey to Esquire® Scholarship & Leadership Program.