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AUM Foundation boosts Lasonya Spears’ efforts in school, workplace

MADISON – Lasonya Spears, a senior at New Century Technology High School, has written a personal essay about the AUM Foundation’s help to gain workplace experience at Madison Hospital.

Mary Lynne Wright, President of Madison Hospital, said Lasonya applied to and was accepted to Huntsville Hospital’s surgical scrub tech program, which she is pursuing at Madison Hospital.

The AUM Foundation’s outreach helps under-resourced, female high-school seniors, Founder and Executive Director Alka Bhargav said. The foundation’s programs allow students to earn experience, gain insight into their career path and build skills to break generational poverty.

In her essay, Lasonya compares her struggles with her dog, Toby. Lasonya’s mother, sister and she rescued the tiny chihuahua mix and first named him Tubby for his chubbiness. “We changed it to ‘Toby’ once his baby fat wore away,” Lasonya said.

“Like my dog, I’ve had to face some really big challenges, but, despite my odds, I still have a strong passion for my community,” Lasonya said. She has volunteered for the Alzheimer’s Walk and Special Olympics and fundraised for Boys & Girls Club; she also tutors.

“I do these things because I want to help people. Interacting with volunteers and participants has taught me compassion and reshaped my perception of altruism,” Lasonya said.

“My life has taught me the need for compassion,” Lasonya said. She was raised by a single parent who worked day and night. The family never stayed in one place for long – once for three years until having to move because they couldn’t pay rent. “I was 12 years old.”

“Three years and two houses later as I was starting high school, I noticed my mother staying home and sleeping more. Our lights were turned off as we started to struggle to pay bills. There was less food in the fridge, and my Mom had her car repossessed,” Lasonya said.

When her mother walked from her room and fell to the floor, Lasonya realized the situation was drastic. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, her Mom couldn’t work again.

“Summer came, and we were evicted from our home. In just a few seconds, we became homeless. We had to give up everything — even our dog, Toby. He wasn’t the smartest dog, but I loved him. I haven’t forgotten Toby. I haven’t forgotten Toby’s courage,” Lasonya said.

Currently, Lasonya’s family lives in an emergency placement home. “As every day passes, my Mom continues to work hard, because nothing stops her from doing everything she can for us,” Lasonya said.

“Like Toby, my Mom has a dogged spirit. She’s passed it on to me,” Lasonya said.

Lasonya continues to work hard — not only for herself but to make her mother proud. After joining JROTC, Lasonya has worked up to Battalion Commander. She joined HOSA (future health professionals) and was elected Alabama’s 1st Vice President/Secretary, giving the opportunity to speak to Alabama students.

“I chose to tell my story, hoping it would encourage students who were facing difficult situations,” Lasonya said. “I wanted to show them how important it is to stand tall.”

“What you go through in life does not define you . . . you define yourself. After high school, I’ll be the first in my family to not only go to college but finish,” Lasonya said.

Frank Williams with Landers McLarty Chevrolet donated a car to AUM Foundation to award to a deserving student. AUM awarded the car to Lasonya.

“I do come from a low-income family, but I will stop the generational poverty by continuing my commitment to not only my family but to myself,” she said.

“I want my family legacy to be one of overcoming all obstacles. Through hard times, I stood up with encouragement of those around me. Dr. Courtney Murray, my mentor, is one of those people; although she has just entered my life, she continues to encourage me and makes sure that I’m doing OK,” Lasonya said. Dr. Courtney Murray served as Lasonya’s mentor, as allotted by AUM Foundation.

“Courtney is an incredible person, without a doubt someone I look up to. One day, I hope to tell my story and be that person in someone’s else life. I want to be someone who encourages them to stand tall and keep going because, in the end, giving up is not an option,” Lasonya said.

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