Laurie believes in positivity. She loves to laugh and has an infectious smile, but it is her passion for dance and faith in God that have carried her through life’s toughest challenges. For as long as she can remember, Laurie’s mother has suffered from severe bipolar disorder. As a very young child Laurie often witnessed her mother being battered and beaten by her dad and brother, who also suffers schizophrenia. But her mother’s abuse was not the only violence Laurie endured. Between the ages of six and ten years old, Laurie suffered her father’s sexual abuse in silence. The nightmare Laurie was forced to keep secret was eventually exposed after a neighbor in whom she confided spoke out. Her father was sent to prison and Child Protective Services removed Laurie from her mother’s care and placed her in the care of an aunt. Laurie was heartbroken and longed to be reunited with her mother, and after several years she was finally able to move back home. The scars of early childhood have taken their toll, but in spite of all the darkness Laurie has found a release through dance. She has learned to hold her head up high with grace and poise, and to transform negative experiences into positive expression and motivation. She uses her story as a testimony to inspire others, and lives by the wisdom that we must “never allow negativity to shake us; but make us who we are.” Laurie is graduating with a 3.35 GPA from G.W. Carver High School with plans to study nursing at Prairie View A&M.