Ashley Stephenson and Nancy Zook

Recorded June 2, 2021 Archived June 1, 2021 11:05 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: chi003548


Ashley Stephenson (18) talks to her teacher Nancy Zook (55) about graduating from high school and her hopes for the future.

Subject Log / Time Code

AS reads her "I Am" statement which she composed for the "I Am" Project.
AS talks about her older sister helping to motivate her to get through school.
AS talks about why she wants to become a nurse.
AS talks about what she is proud of.
AS talks about the ways she has matured since childhood.
AS reflects on how a lot of people her age are dying young, and how grateful she is to still be alive to be with her friends and family and to enjoy her life.


  • Ashley Stephenson
  • Nancy Zook

Recording Location

Virtual Recording

Venue / Recording Kit

Partnership Type




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00:00 My name is Nancy, zook. I'm 55. Today is June 2nd, 2021. We're in Chicago, Illinois at CCA Academy in the neighborhood of North Lawndale. And I am with Ashley Stephenson. She's a senior here at CC a getting ready to graduate.

00:27 My name is Ashley Stephenson. I'm 18 years, old. Today is June 2nd. 2021. I'm here in Chicago, Illinois. I'm here with Nancy and she's a teacher at 68th Avenue.

00:48 All right, so Ashley, do you want to start with a couple of your? I am statements?

00:56 Yes, I am 18. I am a daughter.

01:04 I am a sister to three.

01:08 I am at 82 1.

01:12 I am in an intelligent black African American.

01:17 I am.

01:19 5th generation.

01:26 That's good for. Now. You can come back to those and add more for next. It's really good.

01:31 So,

01:33 How do you feel about the fact that in a couple of weeks? You are going to graduate high school? But his that Journey been like for you the journey has been stressful and hard but overall. I kept pushing. I wanted to do better. I went to get a high school diploma and do something better with my life outside of Chicago.

01:59 I'll stay at this point to that, whatever questions I asked for the best. At you can sort of start your answer with repeating the question, right? Because my part, I'll be all cut out, but you did it very well.

02:18 What you think's been the most difficult part of getting through finishing high school and getting to this point in your life. I was having negative people around me all the time. Like telling me that I couldn't do it or I wasn't going to do it.

02:40 So I just had to prove them wrong.

02:44 What did you tell yourself or how did you convince yourself that you would know that, that negative advice wasn't you and wasn't? We were?

02:58 I knew that the negative energy couldn't keep me down cuz like I'm positive person. I want to keep pushing for something better in life. I have a little sister. So I wanted her to do better like

03:15 Look up to me. Like she saw, I got a high school diploma so she couldn't keep it.

03:21 If I asked your little sister about you to describe you, how would your little sister describe them?

03:29 She would describe me as.

03:32 An intelligent woman.

03:41 Selfless Cary.

03:48 That's all right.

03:52 Who do you think has been the most important person in your life?

03:57 This point to get you to where you are.

04:00 The most important person in my life is my sister, Andrea Thompson.

04:08 She helped me a lot door school because I got a job and then I wasn't focused. So she told me, you do, I get my high school diploma. I can get anything I want.

04:22 But it wasn't even that. It was like just seeing how even come back to school because she didn't get her high school. Diploma made me want to get mad at you. No more.

04:34 That's great.

04:39 What's the next steps for you? Once you graduate? What's, what's the plan for the summer and Beyond?

04:47 My plan for the summer and Beyond he has to get a job, stay focused.

04:55 Future career as nursing helping others in need.

05:01 Eventually going to college in the store better in life for my own issues to be a nurse because

05:19 I want to help people when they're need. I want to be there for people when they can't be there for themselves or they family can't be there like a nurse is a big job that Mike. And I just want to beat up with somebody.

05:36 Is there something?

05:40 But he is there anything about you guys that you want to change it, that you want to work on or that you think you could do better at?

05:49 I want to work on pushing myself even harder because sometimes I feel like I can't do it and I'll just give up.

05:57 I want to convince myself. Like I'm worth it. Keep pushing is more to life than just laying down or not doing nothing.

06:12 What would your best friend say about you?

06:15 My best friend is actually my little sister.

06:20 She would say that she's proud of me.

06:25 That I made it in that I'm doing something better with my life. Getting my high school diploma. Getting the job.

06:35 Do things that she want to do?

06:43 I am proud of.

06:46 Be graduating next week.

06:50 And I am proud of me getting my 8th grade diploma.

06:57 I'm going to be proud of me getting the job and making it somewhere in life. Other than just home.

07:14 What do you think you do? Really? Well, what are you really good at?

07:20 I feel like I'm really good at.

07:24 Helping others.

07:28 Because when if they can help they self, I feel like when they ask me, I could do it or, like, just encourage them to do it. Like, they don't need nobody, they can do it.

07:47 As a little kid.

07:51 I really don't remember what I was like for my mama always tell me stories. Like I was Goofy. All I do is laugh.

08:01 I used to play a lie, run around like my listen.

08:13 I've changed so far in life by maturing take your responsibilities for myself on and up to my actions. And

08:26 Just listening to what she got to say in like be more respectful to her.

08:33 Do you want to say your? I am again?

08:40 I am intelligent.

08:44 I am brave. I am confident.

08:49 I am courageous.

08:52 I am African.

08:54 African-American black woman, I am

09:00 A sister. I am a daughter. I am a granddaughter.

09:22 I am a future nurse.

09:42 I was just going to ask you, if you had.

09:47 Astoria short story, some special memory that changed how you think about life, something you experienced.

09:59 On something I experienced about life. They changed me ears.

10:05 Nowadays, so many people that's my age or younger dying. Don't get a chance to see 21 or 18 or get a high school diploma or even a eighth grade diploma. So I can bring food that I am still here and live in breaking up every day. Seeing the people. I love the most and just trying to do better with the time that I give me on this Earth.

10:34 Is there anything else you want to add? Like, if you were talking to someone else in your position or someone coming up behind you?

10:42 I want to let them know to never give up. Stay positive, ignore the negative energy around you.

10:52 Just do what you got to do to make it in life and be positive.