By Christina Kanu @MissKanu
The Journey did not happen overnight.
When I was born my parents knew that I was different. I was a child who always wanted to help other people. When I went to elementary school I was the same way. Whenever there was a new student in the classroom I wanted to be their tour guide. There was something about helping others that gave me joy. Many people never understood why I loved to help people especially at an early age. However, that was just a part of God’s plan for my life.
I ran for my first elected position in third grade. I remember it vividly. It came down to tie and someone else won. All of the girls voted for me except for 2. And all of the boys voted for my friend Jake plus those two girls. They did not like me and obviously did not want me to win. I remember crying and my teacher taking me outside of the classroom. My teacher encouraged me and recommended me being my opponent’s campaign manager. I thought that was a fabulous idea.
Every single year from that point forward I ran for the school elections. My parents would spend lots of money on the supplies I needed for my elections. I had every type of slogan possible. “Kan You Vote for Kanu” or “Kanu For President”. I lost almost every election in school. I was excited every single time I ran and told myself that this year will be different. I remember attending the meetings when they announced the results. Or hearing the results over the speaker at school. I held my head up high and never cried in front of people. I would go home and bury my face in my pillow and cry. I cried because I did not understand why I would always lose. I cried because I knew that I was more qualified than the most popular girl or boy at school. I cried because leadership should never be a popularity contest. I cried because I was embarrassed to tell people I lost.
The show had to go on. My leadership story was not yet finished. Even though I did not have the “titles” I still knew that I was a leader. When opportunities were presented I took charge. During the summer while most kids were playing outside I would attend leadership seminars. Or on weekends when other kids were watching cartoons I would attend workshops. I was determined to be the leader that God intended for me to be.
Let us fast forward to high school. I still continued to lose elections. My friends had to keep pushing me to run. My losing streak was starting to get the best of me. I did not want to represent people who time after time proved that they did not want me in office. It did not matter that I was in the student government association, a cheerleader, football manager, and soccer manager. I even attended Barbizon Modeling and Acting School. Barbizon provided me with confidence and improved my self-esteem. It did not matter that I was nice or that I had good grades. None of those things mattered. But in the back of my mind I knew I had to keep pushing. I remember hearing that Abraham Lincoln lost many elections. However, one day he became the President of the United States of America. That story gave me hope.
At the end of 11th grade I decided I might as well give it one last shot. I mean I was either going to win or lose. I decided instead of running for President or Vice President I should run for Treasurer of the Student Government Association. As always, I put my heart and soul into this campaign. I used the Fat Joe and Lil Wayne Song “Make it Rain” in my campaign video. It was such a cheesy video. I passed out candy and other campaign materials. I thought maybe this year it will be different. I remember the day they were going to announce who would be in office the following year. My stomach would not stop tossing and turning. I was in a zone. And then I heard the SGA sponsors say “Christina Kanu”. I just knew there was a mistake. But then I realized that my losing streak was finally over. I could not wait to go home and tell my parents the good news.
Senior year was amazing. We implemented lots of new ideas and had the support of the entire student body. There were lots of perks that I got to experience. I was invited to see President Obama (at that time Senator Obama) speak at my high school. We got to have lunch with the Principal of the school. And the highlight of the year was speaking at our high school graduation. I was the only African American student who was on the SGA executive board. My family and friends were so excited and they all were clapping for me. My Grandpa had passed away a year before my graduation. I knew that he was looking down from Heaven so proud of his granddaughter. That was a moment that no one could take away from me. My excitement was authentic. My joy was on 100 percent. I knew that there was no turning back. Once I walked across that stage I vowed to never stop leading and loving people.
There is something that I left out of this story. A few days before my graduation one of the assistant principals called me into his office. He told me something that I will never forget as long as I live. He told me that I set an example for all of the other African American girls at my high school. He said that I gave them something to strive for and a person to look up to. I looked at him speechless. What does someone honestly say to that? How is it possible that the black girl who lost every election was an inspiration to those who would come after me? When he told me this I knew that my purpose in life was to inspire other people. God created me with the intention to be a beacon of hope for the hopeless. And a catalyst of change in the world.
To Be Continued.