At age 20, Debreial Kirkwood knows exactly what she wants in life and what she needs to do to get it. She is making history as the first person in her family to attend college.
Through her college education, Kirkwood plans to break standards and barriers for Black women and women in general.
Kirkwood was raised in Bloomington, Ill., by her parents. She is the youngest of two brothers and one sister. Like most young women, Kirkwood enjoys shopping, poetry, and indulging in her self, however she considers being around her family the ultimate joy of life.
She considers her stepfather to be the most important figure in her life because of his ability to provide for her what most people never get, “He believed in me, when other people doubted me. He gave me the courage to just be me and not any one else.”
Although Kirkwood is majoring in political science, pre-law she spent her entire summer in Kansas City, Kan., volunteering at Precious Kiddie Care daycare with special needs children.
This was a critical experience for her because it showed how truly blessed she really was. It also lead to her salvation and baptism at Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church, where she is currently a mentor to the youth.
Kirkwood looks forward to doing community service projects in the near future, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
In addition to community service, she also plans to become a commercial litigation lawyer and start her own firm where she will be handling cases involving real estate, employment, wages, contracts, and double standards. Thus, she plans to re-define the definition of a woman and change the role of blacks in the community.
As the first person in her family to attend college, she believes that education is the foundation of everything we do in life. Kirkwood choose to attend Grambling because of its rich culture. Growing up in a predominately white neighborhood, the idea of attending an HBCU excited her.
Although she has had to face many challenges and obstacles at Grambling, she has come to love the school. Kirkwood hopes to leave Grambling with a legacy,
“I want the Grambling community and others to view me as a woman known not only for my zeal, but for my personality. I want people to look at me as a woman who didn’t let fear stand in her way, while accomplishing her dreams,” Kirkwood said.
Kirkwood is a fond advocate for reading and writing. She identifies with Zora Neale Hurston and recognizes her struggle to excel when it was said that black people could not. She is inspired by Hurston’s deep literature and intrigued by her stories that held on to real life dramas.
In contrast, Kirkwood’s favorite book is “The Coldest Winter Ever.” It brings to life so many realizations, “The book made me realize that just as easily as I’ve gotten things, they can be taken away.”
As the first person in her family to attend college, Kirkwood is enjoying her college experience, “College is a stepping stone in every young adult’s life and should be valued. Our ancestors fought hard to get an education and as a community we should carry out the tradition.”
When asked how she would change her experience at Grambling if she could, Kirkwood stated that she would change the administration.
“The communication between the students, faculty, staff, and alumni is horrible. There is no excuse for the problems facing our financial aid and housing this year alone,” she said.
Kirkwood hopes that when she leaves Grambling people will be able to look at her and feel that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
“I hold to the fact that through Christ all things really are possible.”