Alexis Hawkins, an African American woman from Washington, DC who was expelled from high school, has turned her life around and has earned her law degree from Howard Law School. She aims to address systematic racism and help other Black girls who were once like her.
Alexis had a tough childhood growing up. Having an unstable home led her to the foster care system, which introduced her to a neighborhood that protects each other, yet through fighting and other violent ways.
“We band together for protection,” she told The Washington Post. “We fight out of loyalty and friendship, right or wrong. The result is just more trauma that goes unaddressed. It saddens me because… some of my friends have been the victims of homicide. A lot of us are living in poverty and come from homes that are not always supportive.”
At the age of 15, despite being an A student, Hawkins was eventually expelled from high school.
It was after a trip with the anti-violence group, Peaceaholics, that she decided that she didn’t want to continue living her life like that. That time, she met Annie Lee Cooper, who is an activist who fought during the civil rights era.
“That touched me because I’m a fighter,” Alexis said. “I have a warrior spirit, too. Annie Cooper made me realize that I was fighting the wrong people. I was fighting people who looked like me, Black girls who came from the same community, who had gone through the same hardships. She made me understand that I should be using my mind, my energy to fight racism and dismantle systems of oppression that create underserved neighborhoods and school-to-prison pipelines.”
After earning her GED from Woodland Job Corps Center in Maryland, she took up a criminal justice degree at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina. She then enrolled to Howard Law School where she recently graduated.
Now, she is set to take the bar exams to officially become a lawyer. Knowing she wouldn’t be in her place right now if not for those who supported her education, she wanted to pay it forward to other Black girls as well.
Alexis comments, “On May 7, 2021, I graduated from Howard University School of Law. This accomplishment represents so many things but most importantly it is proof that ANY thing is possible. This one is for those individuals and communities that are often overlooked and forgotten about by society. To everyone who believed in me, thank you!”