The Marshall Project

I Followed My Mom to Prison and to a Degree

“This is the path my life had to take so I could be strong.”

As I walked across the stage, I couldn’t believe I was finally graduating. I’d spent the past three years at St. Francis College in Brooklyn finishing my bachelor’s degree in Sociology. My family was in the crowd, screaming loudly. My mom and my grandmother were crying. I kept thinking just don’t trip as all the years leading to that moment flashed through my mind.

I was born in the Bronx to a single mom. My grandmother realized her daughter needed support, so she returned from Haiti to help raise me. At first we lived in a one-bedroom apartment, and even though we were poor, my mom never made it seem that way. I always went to good schools, and every Saturday my mom and I would have brunch at IHOP before going shopping. Sometimes we’d see a Broadway

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