Resources to Support Teaching and Learning Virtually Due to COVID-19.
Header image

Words of Wisdom from 2011 Graduate Karenia Long

  • Date

  • Author

    April Hattori


Karenia Long, a 2011 graduate of The Springfield Renaissance School in Springfield, MA, is a full-time nursing student who also works full-time as a Certified Nurse Assistant. Though she had to decline a school invitation to speak with current seniors because of her hectic schedule, she wrote them a letter, sharing her Renaissance experience. 

Dear students,

I couldn't be here today, not because I'm not a morning person, but because I am a full time nursing student as well as I work full time as a Certified Nurse Assistant. I get up early every day, and I aim to work harder than I did the day before. Going to school and working full time is exhausting and there are days I want to quit but I remind myself that every day brings me one step closer to my goals. One of the things I learned from being at Renaissance is that the teachers, although annoyingly invasive (insert smiley face), really do want you to succeed in life. They want you to be determined and persevere. It was because of these teachers that I learned how to keep focused on gaining knowledge, despite what I went through at home.

In my freshman year, I was one of the youngest in my class and I worked hard, despite the fact that I went home to a house of seven children, a single mother who worked so hard she could barely sit down and breathe, and her boyfriend at the time, who woke up and went to sleep drunk. In my sophomore year, and part of my junior year, I lived in a homeless shelter. In my senior year I was stressing about college and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Despite all of those things, I still graduated high school, got accepted to 8 nursing programs with $52,000 scholarships from all the different colleges, AIC, Elms College, UCONN, and Saint Joseph's college to name a few.

I only made it through because of the teachers who kept pushing me and encouraging me. They showed me that owning my education was more important than any temporary pain I was in. I would come to school ready to shut down and be by myself, and Mrs. Natasha Mitchell would come up to me and say "Miss Long, pull it together!! And button up that uniform shirt girl!!!" Ms. Magrath and some of the other staff I would talk to, including Ms. Wilson and Ms. Cuffee-Gray would listen to me, load me up with hugs and words of encouragement, and then tell me it's time to get back to work. That has been the basis of my motivation ever since, I've buried family members and some of my closest friends, and still got up to make that 8 am class the next day because I knew that's where I needed to be.

Owning your education means getting up and moving forward when everything around you seems to be falling apart. Owning your education means revising that one paper 5 or 6 times over to get that 4 even when you're tired of doing it. Owning your education means, paving your own path, making your own choices and learning from other people's mistakes as well as your own. Owning your education means taking advantage of the help you have around you while you have it because once you leave this school, the professors won't be as understanding and willing to compromise and relatable as the teachers are here at Renaissance. Owning your education means gaining as much knowledge as you possibly can. It really will be the difference between having a career doing something you love, and getting a job living check to check. Own your education, it'll be the most powerful weapon you have.

Good Luck Everyone!!
Karenia Long
Class of 2011