Blazing the Trail - KIPP Nashville

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KIPP Stories, News | May 31, 2017

Blazing the Trail

“I can remember like it was yesterday the moment I was introduced to KIPP. Mr. Dowell was coming to my community and talking to families about KIPP and this new school he was opening. He knocked on our door, talked to my mom and the rest is history.”

This is the story of how Cassandra Lockridge became a KIPPster during the summer of 2005.

“My mom graduated from MTSU and my cousin from Fisk University. For me to carry on what my mother did was so important.”

Cassandra remembers, “Me and my mom both had to sign a contract that we would follow certain guidelines, and I knew right then that this school would be different.”

Even though it’s been more than a decade, Cassandra can clearly recount when she realized KIPP was the right place for her.

“I am a very competitive person, and we would earn paychecks for positive things we did, like completing our homework, or having a good attitude,” recalls Cassandra. “Since I wanted a perfect paycheck, I decided I would work hard every day. And that wasn’t a difficult thing to do, because our classes were so fun and our teachers were invested in us.”

In between learning multiplication and social studies, Cassandra learned about college and began dreaming about the future.

“Every time we said ‘We’re getting ready for college’, I was so excited,” says Cassandra. “We were class of 2013, and we represented a certain college. We’d also visit colleges, so it was easier to get into that mindset that I am going to college and can thrive in a college atmosphere.”

While at KIPP Academy Nashville, Cassandra’s class got the opportunity to travel to Colorado, a visit that further opened her eyes to world outside Nashville.

“We went to the U.S. Olympic Training Center and were able to meet people who had trained for the Olympics. They talked to us about their Olympic experiences, which was super cool. We also went to an air force base and the college,” says Cassandra.

“Mr. Dowell used to say we were trail blazers, and in Colorado we were actually going up trails hiking, and it felt monumental to think that we were really blazing the trail for others students.”

After KIPP Academy Nashville, Cassandra attended a public high school in Nashville and made it her mission to get into college. Essential to that mission were her counselors with KIPP Nashville’s KIPP Through College Team.

“I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done without KTC. KIPP was there to keep me focused,” Cassandra explains.

Cassandra’s dreams and hard work aligned, and she found herself with multiple options for college. She decided on Hanover College in Indiana, where she has spent the past four years pursuing a degree in political science and history.

“College has allowed me to learn more about myself and know what I want to do. I feel confident leading myself down the path that makes sense for me, because I know what fulfills me,” says Cassandra. “Ultimately, what I hope for myself is to either have my masters or PhD in social justice. I would love to be able to positively affect public policy and help different communities. Maybe start a non-profit.”

While at Hanover College, Cassandra was recognized with the prestigious David Kovener award, given to a junior or senior who has shown diligence and servitude to the Hanover community.

“It was very rewarding to have my efforts and activities with on-campus events acknowledged in such a powerful way,” says Cassandra.

With servant leadership top of mind, Cassandra thinks big when it comes to the future.

“I’ll eventually bring it all back home. That’s my end goal. Become a city council person or work for local government in Nashville to help people and make a difference.”