Wendyvette Edwards, a senior at Florida State University, hails from Pahokee, a small urban town in Palm Beach County mainly populated by African Americans. Edwards yearns to be an educator so she can help the next generation of young adults rise to the occasion. Edwards believes breaking the generational curse in the black community will be one of the keys to her success.
According to Edwards, the generational curse in her family is due to a lack of education and a lack of initiative when it comes to pursuing college.
The racial inequality in the United States and the percentage of African Americans in prison also inspire Edwards to seek a bachelor’s degree after watching the Netflix original, “13TH,” a documentary on racial inequality in the U.S.
“Getting a high school diploma is sort of the cap where I’m from and I had to get away from that norm because I have many goals set for myself and I know I can impact the education system,” Edwards said.
Growing up and witnessing her mother raise her alone with her two siblings, it was almost possible that college was not in the picture for Edwards. But she stayed true to her faith and made sure her grades were up to par in order to receive scholarships. This ultimately provided her the spark and perseverance that she needed to get away from home. Her prayers were answered.
Edwards was awarded a full four-year first generation scholarship in 2016 through FSU’s Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement (CARE) program, which provides support for students who are the first in their family to attend college.
She was awarded the scholarship from the director of the CARE program, Tadarrayl Starke. Starke spoke about Edwards’ transition into FSU.
“Since I met Wendyvette, she has shown herself to be a remarkable student, demonstrating a true commitment to educational achievement, student development, community service and mentorship,” Starke said. “She uses her personal story of resiliency and determination to support and encourage her peers and future college students as well,” Starke said.
While at FSU, Edwards has engaged in a variety of activities including SGA meetings, planning events on campus and holding her office hours at the Black Student Union from 2-4 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. She is a busy and active individual.
Ebony Guidry, Edwards’ adviser and student program coordinator at FSU, said it’s easy to be impressed by Edwards.
“The first time I saw Wendyvette she exuded supreme energy. She is a problem-solver, critical thinker, fast learner and trailblazer. She is a strong rising leader and even as her adviser, I admire her presence and leadership capabilities,” Guidry said.
Because Edwards made such an impact on campus with her strong leadership, she was asked to run for president of the BSU.
“I am the first female since the opening of the BSU to hold this position and I have full support from my peers and mentors,” Edwards said.
Whenever Edwards gets the opportunity, she volunteers in her hometown of Pahokee at her local United Methodist church. Edwards and a close friend host the event for high school girls to share experiences on the college level. They provide and explain a list of scholarships available, do resume building and also help build relationships with the girls on a personal level.
Edwards’ strong leadership skills and perseverance has encouraged her mother to get back into school at Palm Beach State College and also helped her younger sister gain admission into FSU.
Upon graduating in spring of 2020, the ultimate goal for Edwards is to join Teach For America or to get on the board of education in her hometown.
“The board of education is a joke back home and I think if I were a part of the board then I could strongly make a change,” Edwards said. “More of us have to get involved and give back to our communities so we can better educate our kids.”
Edwards believes encouraging students to go to college away from home will get them the full experience that they need so they won’t be crippled by distractions back home. They will also learn how to be away from their parents.
Edwards will be the first in her family to graduate from college as spring 2020 quickly approaches. While doing so, she will also be beating the statistical odds of her even going off to college.
Edwards is breaking barriers, and at age 21 she is breaking her generational curse.