You can do everything right and still be denied acceptance into your dream school. Rejection can feel like a punch to the face. For some students wanting to continue their education, a high-ranking GPA and standout resume are not enough.

Alina Connie finds power behind her paintbrushes.

“It’s what keeps me creative. It’s what keeps me innovative,” says Connie.

When she is done with a piece, there is always a meaningful and progressive message behind the artwork.

“I’d say I have an obvious theme which is body positivity, women empowerment and definitely the uplifting of Black women,” Connie confirmed.

Connie thinks everyone needs to have the room and skill to express themselves thoroughly. That’s why her dream is to become an English professor. In her eyes, people are being conditioned to cut conversations and thoughts to 250 characters or less because of social media.

“I think that’s training people to shrink themselves and shrink their ideas into small segments. Even in the classroom with a lot of my peers, they don’t like writing essays,” she explained.

On paper, Connie is closer to reaching a career as an educator. She just finished her undergraduate degree in mass communications at Paul Quinn, a historically Black college in Dallas. It’s a school she says she chose for the cultural support and it was financially better for her pockets. It takes most people four years for a bachelor’s, however, Connie did it in three. Regardless, she’s not sure what steps are next for her dream to come true, even with a super solid 3.9 GPA she’s proud of.

Read more.