We are so proud of Dreonna Richardson, one of the essayists in How To Grow Up Like Me, who was featured in WAMU 88.5's series Beating the Odds, in which education reporter Kavitha Cardoza profiles students in the Washington, D.C. area who have overcome struggles and found ways to thrive academically and socially.
In her essay, which led reporter Cardoza to the story, Dreonna writes movingly of the epiphany she had after her grandmother was diagnosed with schizophrenia. "I had no clue what that was because I was so young," she reveals. "I couldn’t even pronounce that word. It was a little funny at first, but then it got scary. All I knew was that she was yelling, and talking to herself, but I thought that was just her. My dad had a talk with me about the disease, and I became curious. How did this happen to people? And why? And what could be done about it?"
What began as a desire to know more about her grandmother's illness quickly turned into a lifelong mission to educate others about mental illness and combat the social stigma that surrounds it. Dreonna is passionate about changing the national discourse about those who suffer from mental illness, saying, "I want them [those with mental illness] to feel normal, to not feel ashamed. Even when people do have something wrong with them, no one wants to be stuck in that black hole." Her pursuit of her dream will continue this fall on a full scholarship at Bennett College in North Carolina, where she intends to major in Clinical Psychology. Click here to read or listen to the full story on WAMU 88.5 . Congratulations once again to Dreonna!