Ci’Yasia Blackman of George Wythe High School has seen and been in an environment that pushes her to do better. Her upbringing shapes the way she sees herself and others, and she wants to help people just like her do the same.
Graduating from George Wythe, Blackman completed high school with a 3.7 grade point average. Taking all advance placement classes her senior year, Blackman says she wanted to challenge herself. “My academic success was more of a self assurance for me,” Blackman said. “That I was better than my environment, better than what I’m used to, better than what my family is used to. It was about making a change.” She also says she strives to show the younger generations of her family, being an older cousin, a positive role model who gives the guidance to her younger cousins.
Though she focused heavily on her academics, Blackman was also involved in numerous extracurricular activities. While attending George Wythe, she was a member of the step team, female empowerment group Bulldog duty, Girls for a Change, the National Honor Society (NHS), Upward Bound, The Health Advisory Board, GWHS theater and choir ensemble, and a member of the FIRST robotics team through the Richmond Technical center.
Blackman says any time she has had doubts about her quest to achieve goals and success, her mother and former Algebra teacher, Ms. McClean, constantly gave her encouraging words. “They kind of told me to keep going even on the days where I was like, ’I don’t think I can make it any more. I’m not good enough for this.’ They are kind of like, ’Oh, don’t think like that, you got to keep pushing,’” Blackman said.
Her former step team coach and algebra teacher, Lashonda McLean, wrote in a recommendation letter, “As her instructor and former step team coach, I can attest that she is a hard worker. I am satisfied with the way she carries herself as a young woman and how passionate she is about being successful in her future endeavors.”
Blackman is in her first semester of college and is currently attending Virginia Union University. While at VUU, she will be studying for a degree in criminal justice and sociology. Her ultimate goal in obtaining these degrees would be to become a teen legal advocate. Blackman says she wants to be there for teens and young adults who are having a hard time and have no one to talk to.
“I know when I was younger and I had situations occur, I didn’t have anybody to go to. I didn’t have anybody to help me. I didn’t have anybody I could talk to,” Blackman said. “Some people don’t really pay attention to you for real. They don’t pay attention to your story. Nobody wants to hear the words of a child but I know what it feels like. So I want to be the person that hears and has a listening ear for any kid that has a story to tell.” Ultimately, she would like to give children who have had misfortunes a voice and a person to share their issues with.
Blackman said she is striving to reach the highest level of education she can so that she can prove to the people around her that there is more to life than just settling. She says her mother always told her to keep her eye on the prize, and she is focused on that prize of graduating from college and starting a career advocating for children like her.