As Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” Obstacles arise daily, but TeKema Balentine, the recently crowned Miss Black USA does not allow her obstacles to define her. Instead, the scholar, graduate student, activist, and empowerment speaker sees her obstacles as opportunities, and education is her secret weapon to overcoming challenges; and it is an important tool she uses as her platform to encourage black girls to stay in school and have a plan for themselves.
Balentine was born in Dyersburg, Tennessee. She has three siblings and was raised by a single mother in Madison, Wisconsin where she currently resides. As a young girl, Balentine desired to become a psychiatrist because she wanted to understand people and the issues that her family faced on a deeper level. She quickly changed her mind after completing her freshman year at Madison College and having the opportunity to work at a psychiatric hospital. “I realized I wanted to do more hands-on. I wanted to do the procedures. Psychiatrists don't really do a lot of hands-on, so, I decided to go into nursing. It is flexible and there are many branches to choose from,” says Balentine.
Like almost every college student who must go through finances to pay off their college bill, Balentine was not allowing her financial struggles to stop her from attending school. She Googled various scholarships to apply for when she came across information on receiving a scholarship by joining a beauty pageant.
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