CHAPTER FIVE

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Tamiera Harris sits in a middle school classroom in North Philadelphia handwriting an essay about her dream of getting a PhD. At the end of the paper she writes

My dream is to let people know that they can achieve their goals no matter how many obstacles are placed in their path.

That was a big dream coming from a little girl who was raised in the Richard Allen projects in the early nineties, a 13-year-old girl who was sharing a small bedroom in her aunt's tiny apartment with her grandmother, three siblings, and a cousin. Drug dealers and gangs carrying guns and knives were right outside her door. Girls her age were getting pregnant in stairwells. Her daily life was filled with obstacles. She was always moving and changing schools. But from a really early age, Tamiera knew she wanted more.

Television and education were her way out of poverty.

ROLE MODELS AND ENCOURAGEMENT ARE POWER

Fast forward to 2013. When you talk with Tamiera the words focused, determined, and driven come to mind. And when she claims, “I keep my heels and my standards high,” you know she means it.

“Growing up, I was inspired by shows like the Cosbys and HGTV,” Tamiera says. “Bill and Claire Huxtable were successful and instilled family values. They stressed the importance of education. And HGTV showed me how everyday, hardworking people were going after the American dream of owning a home.

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