Many people say that “things happen for a reason” I never thought that those “things” would happen in my life. I was born to two amazing parents, and you will know why I use the word “amazing” later. For about 8 years I was the only child and you would think I was spoiled, but I was not. I was raised in a small country town, Cameron, Texas. So just imagine being the only child living in the middle of nowhere, I occupied myself with many mud-cakes and trying to get my dad to eat them. I attended school in Killeen, Texas, where I did all 12 years of grade school. Cameron is one our away from Killeen and me and my mom commuted that one hour every day. I did not attend Cameron schools because my mom worked in Killeen/Ft. Hood, Texas and my dad was a truck driver and all my family lived in Houston, Texas and my parents did not want me at home by myself. My mom and I commuted for about 8 years and in that time period my brother was born. I could always remember how tired my mom was from all the driving. After all the years of driving my mom eventually decided to get an apartment in Killeen so she would not have to drive so much during the week and we would go home in the weekends.

Eventually my dad decided to get me a car my senior year of high school and when I graduated I began college at Central Texas College (CTC) and worked in Killeen. It eventually became to the point that I did not go home to Cameron on the weekends as much because I was always working and I had to study for school and I missed my dad. After never being out of the home of my parents and completing about two years at CTC, I decided to write my parents a letter, telling them that I was moving to Houston with my best friend to continue college. From the beginning I knew that my parents were not too excited about the whole idea, but parents were never the ones to stop me if it was something that I wanted to do. So the day comes and I pack all of my things up and move into my one bedroom apartment in Houston where my best friend and I shared a room. I am going to be completely honest by saying I was living a life that I knew I should not have been living. I was living pay check to pay check, failing classes, clubbing every weekend, drinking and much more. I was doing the exact opposite of everything I told my parents I was going to be doing when I moved there. With the way that I was living life, to this day I completely shocked that I still have my virginity because I was willing to entertain any kind of company.

While I was living in Houston my best friend and I got to such a low place in my life and we ended up having to break our lease and she moved in with a friend and I had to face my parents and ask them to come home. I was so embarrassed and felt like a complete failure. I was so upset at everyone, I was broken and hurt and I felt like no one understood my pain. I had even had thoughts to commit suicide because I hated myself and everything that I put myself through. Do you remember when I said my parents were amazing? This is why. Through all my hurt and pain my parents were my biggest supporters. My helped me move back home and never acted like anything happened. To this day I still tear at the love that they showed me in my time of hurt. My parents would not let me feel sorry for myself for long. They told me that I had to get enrolled back in school and find a job so I could “dig” myself out of the financial mess that I had created while living in Houston.

I eventually got enrolled at Texas A&M University Central Texas in Killeen and found a job. I had eventually decided to get back involved in church and while at church one night I met MaCayla Rowe. I had been going to HERSHE and just attended but I knew that I needed to be involved with HERSHE. So I walked up to MaCayla and introduced myself and I asked her how I could become involved in HERSHE. She gave me all the information that I needed to send her and we exchanged numbers. We began to text back and forth and eventually had lunch with one another and at the very next HERSHE I was serving on the team. While having lunch with MaCayla I was able to tell her about my story and eventually we had an opportunity to speak about our stories at a 6 for 6. We had 6 speakers and we each had 6 minutes to talk. When it was my time to talk I decided to be brave and talk a little bit about my story girls that live everyday and face challenges. At that moment I felt like a weight was lifted off of my shoulder by just sharing my story. HERSHE has impact me in so many ways. It has given me the opportunity to overcome my hurt. it has given me the opportunity to have fun, to laugh, to cry, to eat, to dance. Most of all HERSHE has given me the chance to be ME.

- Madalene Smith, age 23