Music Helped Our Scholarship Winner Through A Painful Childhood And Into A Productive Future

We’re pleased to announce that our Fall 2015 Scholarship has been awarded to Ashlei Alexander, a graduate student at the University of Maryland. Of the more than 400 essays submitted for the fall scholarship, Ashlei won our hearts with her essay, “An Ode to Hip Hop and Music.” (You can read it below.)

She wrote about a childhood shattered by the death of a loved one; about how the pain and depression she felt was compounded by bullying; and how she had no one to turn to for protection … or comfort.

Music helped her climb to higher ground…

Mind The Gap Scholarship Winner Fall 2015

Ashlei Alexander

At the height of her suffering and loneliness, she discovered the healing powers of music. It eased her mind, soothed her soul, and helped her find the strength to overcome being a victim. Music inspired her to turn her loss into something positive, and to devote her life to helping others.

That’s what moved me most about her story. Instead of feeling sorry for herself and following the “natural path” for a child in her situation – a path that could have led to a life of poverty, dependency, welfare, and very possibly to drug abuse and crime – she decided to “teach, to grow, to learn and to love.” And that’s exactly what she’s doing.

…now she’s helping others do the same

Ashlei intends to use her Masters degree in Criminology to develop a program that will help juveniles at risk before they become offenders, a program that will intervene and provide guidance and support to prevent them from becoming lost in the system.

She’s already helping youngsters, even as she continues her education. Ashlei is currently working with the Greater Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington, an organization devoted to helping boys and girls of all backgrounds, especially those at risk, build confidence, develop character and acquire the skills needed to become productive, civic-minded, responsible adults. She also works part time with RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.

Ashlei is, very obviously, well on her way to accomplishing her goals. She says the $1,000 scholarship will cover all her remaining education costs for this semester. We couldn’t be happier to provide help to someone who’s devoting her life to helping others.

Mind The Gap is a leading provider of on hold music and messaging services, but we’re more than that. We like to think of ourselves as promoters of the power of music and supporters of those who use music to affect positive change. Ashlei Alexander symbolizes everything our scholarship program was created for.

An Ode to Hip Hop and Music

By Ashlei Alexander

Rock and stones do break bones, but words hurt too.

At the age of 11 death knocked at my door,

the grim reaper creeping in every dream passing through;

in the form of cuts, screams and crumbling at my core.

In this state I yearned for a cure,

an escape from my depression filled chamber.

I needed a mental procedure,

to remove all the memories I no longer wanted to remember

A fatherless daughter,

a desecrated crown of a princess

being replaced by a false cotter,

who was nothing more than a mistress.

Misery loves company,

for I also became a victim of bullying.

I could no longer run to daddy,

and the weight continued with its pushing.

Through this I found music.

I opened up my soul to it,

and he erased all of my mental bruises.

His melodies was filled with so much beauty.

It was like he could read my mind

and his words of wisdom pierced right through me;

draining my poison filled heart on the wind

of his therapeutic version of Mozart.

I fell in love with him.

He held my chin in his hand,

as I fell further into his bottomless romance.

His lips began to awaken my deepest desires.

My dream of using research,

to rebuild the poorly implemented criminal justice empire.

He became my antidote.

I engulfed the very being of him,

which allowed me to blossom and see,

just how much the world can get out of me.

The insight we offered as a whole,

on the justice system’s ill willed goal,

to incapacitate, compensate and discriminate

instead of rehabilitate, illustrate and stimulate

the African American syndicate.

I began to study.

Using his lyrical genius as my mental stimulus,

I found my life thesis.

I want to become a researcher.

Digging in depth into juveniles’ mental defenses,

in order to create programs to eliminate their life sentences.

I want to become their representative.

An adult that takes action;

making the use of the word ‘juvenile’ an extraction.

Due to his rhapsodic rhymes, I majored in Criminology.

Combining criminality with sociology,

in hopes of making African American children feel like novelties.

He provided hope in my eyes.

He gave me the strength to look within,

and become a brighter star.

His origination and uniqueness in his rhythms,

created an open platform

to build friendships that will last through hard times.

For that I am forever thankful.

He is the only one that provided me

with the courage I needed to succeed and believe.

Through him I found my passion.

My passion to teach, to grow, to learn and to love,

to hold my friendships dear and my enemies far.

For the him I talk about, is nobody else but Hip Hop.

Hip Hop and music alike,

provided me with my education driven life.

I owe it to him for my life decisions,

so here is the end to my ode to hip hop and music.

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