My name’s Shania, and like my family, I am very outspoken! I am the older of 2 in my mom’s family, and the oldest of 4 in my dad’s family. My grandparents all moved here from Puerto Rico years ago. I have lived in Camden and Pennsauken most of my life attending elementary school and now high school here.

My parents were high school sweethearts but things got pretty bad within the first few years (around when they had me), so they split when I was young. I live with my mom and stepdad but still visit with my dad once in awhile. As much as I love him, he’s made a lot of bad decisions and hurt me many times.

Camden is a great place in a lot of ways but there are things that are really hard. When I was little, for example, I couldn’t go outside and walk around. I had to stay safe inside and play on the floor instead of in the yard or the street. That being said, I love my family and they’re all here in Camden. One person still here is my grandmother. She has been an advocate and community organizer for the city long before I can remember. She was always working to make the city safer and better for the youth and families living there. I had the privilege of being able to travel with her and learn so much from her and all the good work she did.  A few years ago she had a pretty serious stroke, but is still as amazing and inspirational as she was before… probably more so. I try to follow in her footsteps and be a leader among my peers, and know I can help change Camden one step at a time.

Other than my family LUCY is the most important thing to me here in the city. It’s a place that I can go to explore places outside of Camden, and experience things I wouldn’t have been able to if I was stuck home on the couch. I can always be myself, and never feel judged, and people there really believe in my future.

Someday I hope to graduate high school and go to college. I want to have a family that is healthy and happy and be a successful lawyer able to support them and give back to Camden. Although I want to move my family out of Camden to live comfortably and safe, I’d love for the city to have improved so much that we can stay and build a great life where it all began years ago.


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