Forward Motion


“In foster care, there are families that genuinely want to take care of you. And then there are families whose only intention is to get money. I was placed in various environments where people did not show me any love. I did not have a great experience at all growing up in Chicago. But all that’s past, right? It’s about the present and the future.

I’ve always said that God won’t put more on me than I can bear. Yes, I’ve had a rough background. But feeling sorry for myself didn’t get me here. My fulfillment comes from helping others. Various people took the time to help me over the years and why can’t I be that person for someone else?

I’ve been involved in activism since I was little. I participated in high school and even met with the CEO of Chicago Public Schools a few times to discuss issues. If I see something that’s wrong, I’m not going to be silent about it. I guess that’s why President Obama mentioned me in his speech on education in September 2009. It was exciting but there are other students who’ve gone through the same thing and they’ve probably done a lot more — they just haven’t been singled out yet.

Most of the schools I applied to were larger universities. When I visited USD, I felt like it was a close- knit community. I also liked the fact that it’s far away from Chicago.

I’m a freshman, I’m a human and I’m still a child at heart so I definitely miss some things. It’s been an adjustment but there are a lot of people here who keep me grounded. The Center for Inclusion and Diversity, the Office of Admissions and Student Support Services — the people there have been like my community, my family.

I am pretty involved here already. I work with the Center for Awareness, Service and Action and I’m in a dance group called Infamous. I started an organization in January called SOAR — Student Outreach and Recruitment — focusing on improving and retaining multi-culturalism at USD. I do campus tours, which I like. I also volunteer at a museum and the Toussaint Academy group home for homeless teens.

If you see me in the classroom, I’m the most serious person in there. Get me outside the classroom and I’m one of the goofiest. I like to watch movies. I like to hang out. I like to dance and sing. And I like to give back — I get joy out of that.

I am interested in pre-medicine — specifically oncology within osteopathic medicine — but I’m also thinking about majoring in sociology. What I’m looking for is to help underrepresented, underserved communities where you find people who can’t speak up for themselves or don’t have the resources to succeed.

For now, my passion and my aim is to make USD more inclusive and diverse for all students. I want to see this university live out its mission statement. I want all students to feel comfortable on this campus because there are so many people who slip through the cracks and they’re not strong enough to say anything. They’d rather be silent.

But I’m somebody who isn’t afraid to speak up.”

— Shantell Steve, ’14, Undeclared