Last week, Christina Adeleke joined our team as communications and development coordinator. Christina is a graduate of Lee University and Charlotte School of Law. She comes to us after working with Equality NC and the Freedom Center for Social Justice. Christina will be based in Charlotte and working out of Carolinas CARE Partnership, allowing us to increase our work in an area of the state with our highest HIV rate. Learn a little more about Christina below, and feel free to drop her a note at Christina@NCAAN.org. I know she’s looking forward to getting to know our community!
Orison Swett Marden said, “Success is not measured by what you accomplish, but by the opposition you have encountered, and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds.” In my short journey in life, I have learned that it is foolish to base your life on what you see instead of what you can imagine and dream for yourself.
Being the child of Nigerian immigrants definitely has had a unique impact on my upbringing. My parents came to the United States with a couple hundred dollars in their pockets and a desire to achieve the American Dream. They left a country with limited opportunities to the land full of opportunity. Leaving everything that they knew involved so many risks, but it was a gamble that they were willing to take. If coming to America allowed them to achieve their dreams, then America is where they needed to be.
My parents worked incredibly hard to find success in America and we were, by no means, the family with a money tree in our backyard. My mother worked nights and my father worked during the day so it was always difficult to make sure that my brothers and I were being watched. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches everyday were the norm. Things like Whoppers from Burger King were considered treats and days like Christmas were just another day. As a child, I was observant and aware of my surroundings. I encountered people who were in tough and hopeless situations. Even though my family was struggling, my parents always taught us to still reach out to those that were in need around us. Even as a child, I always had a strong desire to help the people around me. If it meant offering the little that I had to someone I felt needed it more than I did or sticking up for the classmate that was being bullied, I always felt the “need” to intervene the best way that I could. This “need” would definitely shape who I would become in the future.
Even though my parents eventually found success and achieved the American Dream, I did not forget where I came from or how I was raised. I did not forget the people who were in hopeless situations. I felt like the older I became, the more my eyes were opened to how bad people’s situations actually were. It was not just the fact that some people did not have enough to eat or a place to live. It was the mind-blowing fact that some people were ostracized because of who they loved or for simply being themselves. It was also the fact that the most vulnerable people were consistently overlooked by a government designed to “protect them” My heart broke for these people. I felt the “need” to step in somehow. These people who I had lived alongside of were in need of someone who could speak on their behalf.
I always knew that I wanted to dedicate my life to advocate for those who were unable or scared to speak for themselves. At that point, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer. As a lawyer, I would be able to stand alongside those who were in need and empower them to take control of their lives and better their situations. I would be able to provide justice for those who had been wronged. I would be able to be a voice for those who did not have a voice. I wish I did not have to do this, but we live in a fallen world. So many injustices go on around us in the world and not much is being done to help or prevent them from happening. If no one else is willing to do anything, then I will. I refuse to just sit there and let these things continue to happen as they are.
With all of that being said, I am so honored to be a part of the NCAAN team. NCAAN has demonstrated and exemplified its core mission of improving the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS in North Carolina and I cannot wait to join the fight! I have big dreams of empowering the powerless and restoring what people could have been to who they can become. Let’s get to work!