When she was in about the fourth grade, because of life experiences Sherlyn Velasquez had an opportunity to speak with a counselor. With everything she went through, she really saw the positive effects of speaking to someone as she got older. “It had changed me tremendously and now I can contribute to my community and make a difference in someone else’s life because they may not have anyone to talk to,” Sherlyn said. She plans to make a change in her community through volunteer work and by also pursuing a career in social work.
While she is excited and nervous for life after college, Sherlyn knows college is where she wants to be. “I love helping people and I feel like I can make a difference in someone’s life and help people with everyday issues,” she said. She particularly wants to work in the court systems with situations such as child custody, separations, divorce, neglect, termination of parental rights, corrections and other issues. She wants to be there for children who may not know how to cope with situations like these. Some of her top college choices include North Carolina Central University, Howard University and Morgan State University. She is attracted to these schools because of their great social work programs and the school environments.
Sherlyn’s passion for wanting to give back transcends into not only her career goals but also her motivation to give back to the community. She currently volunteers with Second Chances Youth Services and Southside Child Development Center. With both, she is able to build relationships with different children and give back to her community. “It helped me see things from a different perspective like there are some kids living in poverty and it just humbles me,” Sherlyn said. Outside of volunteering, Sherlyn participates in the National Honor Society, Future Business Leaders of America, serves as class treasurer, participates in Virginia Union University’s Upward Bound program and is a flag girl in her school’s band. Even with all of these extracurricular activities, Sherlyn currently maintains a 4.1 GPA.
With ambitions to become a social worker and give back, Sherlyn gets constant advice from her grandmother and cousin who always remind her to keep her head up and that “your struggle is your motivation, don’t let that stop you from being successful and being who you want to be in life.” Not only do these family members encourage her, but her Aunt Evelyn also. After having children at a young age and experiencing bad situations, Sherlyn’s aunt worked her way up to receiving a master’s degree in billing and coding. Now she works for a big company in New York. Sherlyn’s pride for her aunt also inspires her to succeed in her own life. “I truly just want to be an inspiration to others,” Sherlyn said. “We all have our struggles and I don’t want them to feel like it’s always going to be a dark hole ahead. It’s some type of light at the end of the tunnel and you just keep going and you pray.”