The Motivation to Succeed


February can be marked as the month of love, devotion, appreciation, and gratitude… and even as I extend my educational lust for success in Higher Education, I have a story, well many stories, to be told. One of the most character building stories is one of a young woman named Aliyah…

Almost 14 years ago, I met a young, vibrant girl during the advisory period at our high school. Bringing in my tagline’s keywords, low self-esteem and fear, I sat in the corner as I watched my brother talk with his friends. It was truly the beginning of my silent conservatism towards people. I didn’t know what it felt like to be a child, by then, I had experienced domestic abuse, child abuse, fear, depression, and every other word in the psychological dictionary referencing “pain”. Knowingly hoping this first day of school would end without anyone picking on my stout frame, a smile walked towards me. Aforementioned, I had a silent dislike for humans and did not care to speak to anyone. I wanted to continue being angelically “emo” for the rest of my life. But anyway, this smile walked up to me and introduced herself. Not knowing for the next 14 years of my life, this person would be one of the only friends who would cross the thick line to be labeled as my sister… I gave her a simple hello. I guess my smile was gay enough because she asked me if I wanted to hang out with her and her friends. She seemed popular enough to be associated with my grunge kind… but I couldn’t say no. This was the first time I felt I had made a holistic friend… sister, I will say.

Fast forward 14 years later and I sit here happily writing about her memory… sad to have to tell you all she lost her battle to cancer last July. As a young professional, a young woman, a young hopeful wife… I thought I was invincible and I darned sure thought she would be too. I lost the most prized gift God has blessed me with on earth. You never grow up thinking you would lose your best friend, sister, motivator at the tender age of 25… but I did. When she was blessed most abundantly to sleep peacefully for the rest of my life (since I am still here walking the earth), she left a big chunk of her heart in my mind. I think about the progress she made, the strength she displayed, the joy she left on everyone’s heart and I pause… am I really going to be as amazing as she was in life? She gave me so much I never knew I had… simply put, she bought me out of my darkest hour.

Two weeks before she passed, I joined her during her chemo session at the hospital. We were talking about our future and we had scheduled a date to apply for jobs after she finished treatment, we talked about our past boyfriends (or lack of) and cried a little as we reminisced on our amazing sistership. I didn’t think just two weeks later, I would give my hearts cry and feel defeated… feel I had let her down. She led me to the light during my darkest hour and I was left feeling unchained. What am I to do now  without her… can I even be as successful without her adorable giggle or her much needed opinions? She gave me the motivation to push through every trial and tribulation I have ever had to face… and she will still be able to do so.

I tell you about my dear friend, Aliyah, because she is the motivation I have for pursuing an advanced degree. She knew I wanted to do this more than anything in the world and now I am here… without the physical form but with the mental form of what she meant to my professional and educational career. I got the opportunity to attend her graduation last May from South Carolina State as a Speech Language Pathologist… you see? Even while battling cancer, my girl graduated from her program. She is a big inspiration in my life. When I am feeling as if I am not able to continue due to my “scaredy-cat” thoughts, I always think of her and I feel immediately refreshed. When I begin applying for my doctoral degrees later this year/early next year… I will call on her to guide me as she always have. To open up opportunities such as the job I am currently working in now, and to give me the confidence to push through anything without her text messages/call telling me to suck it up!

Aliyah is my Valentine this month but she is also my motivator. She has been for the last 14 years and will be for as long as I can stomach this treasured life I am blessed to have here on earth. I will never be able to fill the void in my heart but I can make her proud of me… cause God knows I am too proud of her.

This post is dedicated to the memory of Aliyah Howard. My biggest fan, my biggest motivator, my … everything.


26 thoughts on “The Motivation to Succeed

  1. Beautiful tribute. I have also lost dear friends, who impacted my life, beyond the norm. My greatest motivator was my dad, my reason for pursuing higher education. Sadly, he passed away a year before I obtained my PhD. You are such a motivating person. Hopefully, you’ll impact some one, just as your friend impacted your life. Look around, you’ll find that particular one. The best in your pursuit. Blessings.


  2. I’m writing to make you be aware of what a outstanding discovery my cousin’s child undergone reading through your webblog. She came to find such a lot of issues, which include what it’s like to have an awesome coaching character to make others with no trouble completely grasp specific extremely tough matters. You undoubtedly exceeded our own desires. Thanks for imparting such interesting, safe, revealing and also easy thoughts on that topic to Lizeth.


  3. I love this tribute to your friend and how she continues to inspire you. The heart break of losing a dear friend is something I know oh to well. I lost my friend to domestic violence. She was a very talented chef with much promise. It is a hole I have never been able to fill. She remains with me warmly in my memories and I can hear her voice guiding me when I’m in the kitchen cooking. 🙂


    • I am also sorry for your loss, Susan. I hear Aliyah as I get nervous before doing a presentation or working on an assignment because she always told me to “get to work!” Thank you for reading and sharing your story as well!


  4. I am so sorry that you lost your best friend and sister. I can only imagine how it must feel to lose the person who understands you like a real best friend does. It may not seem like it now, but the time you had together is a blessing, as some people never experience that wonderful closeness, and I’m sure that you will continue to feel her positive presence by your side for a long time.
    Thank you for sharing such a touching piece. It did make me cry though! 🙂


  5. What a beautiful tribute to your friend and her memory. Because of you (and others, I’m sure), her lovely spirit still lives. I’m sure your friendship (sisterhood) was a blessing to her during her travails. (Seriously, your “ode” to her makes me feel inspired by her example.)


    • I love that you stated she inspires you! Brings a tear to my eye to just know she is touching the lives of MANY and not only myself. I appreciate the comment and for you stopping by! I will do the same!


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