“When I was 12, both my mom and dad were incarcerated. My dad served four years in prison for drug possession charges. My mom was charged with manslaughter. She was driving a vehicle while under the influence. She had an accident, and her passenger was thrown from the vehicle and died. She served six years and six months.

My mom was a single parent with four children – of which, I’m the oldest. So, when both my parents were incarcerated, my grandmother had to take over and become our guardian. And, she was disabled. So when I turned 16, I had to work.

At one point, I actually had three jobs while still going to school. I was still a superintendent’s scholar and principal’s scholar. I was named Miss Seventh Grade at Nichols Middle School, then I won Miss Nichols Middle School. In high school, I became Miss Freshman, Miss National Honor Society, Miss Student Government Association, and Miss Canton High School. So throughout my years of working those jobs, I was able to make sure that all ends were met. And, I made sure my younger sisters and my grandmother were happy.

The way I got through that was building a relationship with God, and knowing that through everything I went through, he would bring me out. I live everyday by the scripture that says, He won’t put more on me than I can bear.

When I was running for Miss JSU, I was explaining to them that the reason I chose ‘Family’ as my platform, is because family means so much. Regardless of how your family impacted you, whether negatively or positively, they’re still the reason we are here today.

Although some of the choices my parents made hindered me in my life, it still ended up having a positive influence on me in the end.

Now, I’m the first in my family to go to college. So, like the old people say, I thank God that I don’t look like what I’ve been through. “

– Comelia, junior pre-math major from Canton.