My name is Derrick Standifer - aka Ayana’s and Derrick Jr.'s daddy, aka my momma’s son.
I am a two-time college dropout with a masters degree. I probably shouldn't brag about the dropout part, but its apart of the journey that got me here, and I am proud to have overcome my trials and tribulations. I use my story to tell people that just because you fail it doesn't mean that you are a failure.
I was raised by a community of people who believed in me when I didn't believe in myself. They saw something in me when I lacked the confidence to see something in me. Their belief in me was transferred into me being the Salutatorian of my high school. Their belief in me also led to me being elected SGA president, homecoming king and most likely to succeed.
I had a full tuition scholarship to go to Howard University. Instead, I went to FAMU due to the advice of my high school counselor. When I arrived at FAMU, I felt like an idiot; here I had to take out student loans to pay for school. This was truly a low moment in my life. I felt like a failure. Why did I go to FAMU? I even went to the inauguration of Barack Obama and visited Howard's Campus. But if I could go back and do it differently I wouldn’t because I have been blessed.
In reference to my two-time dropout statement. A year and a half after enrolling into FAMU, I dropped out and enrolled at Georgia State University in downtown Atlanta. Just after two semesters at GSU I flunked out and was banned from every state school in Georgia. So how did I get here? One day I heard a speech by Les Brown in which he said, “Just because you fail, it does not mean that you are a failure.” You can always bounce back from your trials and tribulations, and I did just that.
I enrolled back into FAMU and earned my Bachelors Degree and a year later, I was fortunate enough to earn my Masters Degree. I am not saying that to brag, but to prove that just because you fail, it does not mean that you are a failure.
After graduating, I joined the fight for educational equality and became an educator. In my classroom, I taught students who had world-class talents, but many did not believe in themselves or their talents. I wondered how could we build the confidence of the kids in our schools Then I realized that solving the Rubik's Cube is a lot simpler than what most people realize. I started teaching my students how to solve Rubik's Cubes, and their confidence shot through the roof.
Since its onset. people have associated solving the Rubik's Cube with being a genius. Then I thought to myself how can I give my students the feeling of being a genius? To be able to do something that most people in the world think is too hard to do would automatically build confidence automatically. And it transfers to other areas of life. If a student learns how to solve a Rubik's Cube then there are no limits on what they are able to learn.
For such a large part of my life, I sat on the sidelines because of a lack of confidence. I was afraid to believe in me because I didn't want to fail. There are too many people who are sitting on the sidelines due to a lack of confidence and lack of a proper plan. I intend to aid in the fight to change that. To continue the fight, I have been blessed fortunate and highly favored to have been accepted in a Ph.D. program to pursue a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership at FAMU.