This is the second of two video profiles on students who received college scholarships from New Visions for Public Schools this year. Winners, who must attend high schools in the New Visions network, will receive up to $5,000 a year for all four years of college to pay for academic expenses. Read more about the nine other graduating seniors that New Visions honored.
In a one-bedroom apartment in the West Bronx where Diamond Walker lives with her younger brother and mother, she talks about how it was sometimes difficult to get her work done. There’s violence on her block, neighbors doing drugs in her hallway, and, with the library an unsafe walk away, nowhere quiet to study.
“It’s just really distracting and sometimes it’s discouraging,” said Walker, who graduated last month from the Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics. “You’re trying to do so much to make it better and it seems like nothing is going the right way.”
Walker took to dancing when she was young as an outlet for her frustrations, especially when it came to dealing with her absent father who was in jail for most of her childhood and now lives in Jamaica.
“I really let my emotions show through my dancing. … I would use that as motivation to stomp harder and be louder and be stronger,” she said. “I thought that dancing would be like my escape … but then I realized that it was just a way for me to cover up what I was feeling. I wasn’t really escaping anything.”
After having that realization, Walker decided to talk to her father and get everything she wanted to say off her chest.
“He said he’s sorry,” she recalled. “He wished he could go back and change time but he can’t, so all we could do now is make the relationship work.”
Based on her dad’s experience and other problems she’s seen friends and family go through, Walker has decided she wants to be a social worker after she graduates from Bowdoin College, a small liberal arts school in Maine to which she received a scholarship through the QuestBridge program.
Because dancing helped her get through the tough times and helped her find herself, Walker said she wants to open community centers that are like YMCAs but have a special focus on arts education.
“We’ll have dancing, poetry, drawing, sculpturing, music … all this arts stuff,” she said with excitement and a sense of urgency in her voice. “I don’t know how I’m going to do that, but it’s going to happen.”