UCHS: Who Am I

(Selections from 10 of 20 students)




   I am long hair and hot combs smelling like burnt grease to scissors snipping in the salon, hair being swept up every hour and salons sometimes located in people’s basement.
I am from Africa, the mother land where we eat farina and ox tail, to the American style meals like fried chicken fresh out the pan that laid on a paper-towel to drain the grease, white rice tender and cooked to perfection with gravy, hand scrubbed collard greens, and homemade needed biscuits cut in the middle buttered up and fresh out the oven.
I am from no ham because of the high blood pressure that lingers in my family, and egg and cheese omelets, toast with little butter, and a cup of orange juice for Sunday morning breakfast.
I am from Saturday- night slumber parties at my cousin’s house, “thank you for coming” candy bags that have pink poke-a-dots on them and taffies given to us as we leave.
I am from evening club gatherings at Egypt nightclub with my cousins, to neighbor-to-neighbor competition in “I’m gonna get you back” basketball games.
I am from blasting music outside on the porch where we lick ice cream combs as we dance to Jamaican and African beats.
I am from cartoons and childhood shows on the T.V. like Tom and Jerry and Reading Rainbow, and sometimes Seven Heaven, to church picnics at Neshameny Park and playing in my backyard with my childhood friend Beven.
I am from Sunday dinners like the ones Big Mama made in Soul Food, to hot dogs and cheeseburgers with little ketchup, mustard, and very few onions form the corner store in the hood.
I am from people who try to reach their goals, to speeches, contests, and compatibility and competitiveness that comes from my ancestor’s determination.
I am from saying’s like “ go ahead knock em’ out girl”, “it’s your birthday not a holiday”, “you the bomb”, and “you keep up the good work- always do your best” to other sayings like “go to your room I don’t wanna see your face right now”, “ I’ll knock you into tomorrow”, I’ll split your wig”, and “ I brought you in this world and I’ll take you out”.
I am from frilly Sunday dresses, bonnet hats, lacey socks, and paten leather shoes.
I am from trips to Disney World every 4 years, where we see Mickey, Minnie, and Donald Duck.
I am from Pocono’s skiing trips, Minnesota snowstorms, the big ATL, and summer long camps that are over night and fun filled.
I am from family nights and games such as scrapple with the red and white board and the tan pieces with black writing.
I am from unity, neighborhood drama, late night summer talks, Sunday morning church, and peaceful meetings in our neighborhood borough. .
I am Queenie from the Quarterman family, born and raised a success.
By Frances Quarterman




As a boy I lived in Ethiopia. I remember as a little boy, I was the first and last child for my family. My mother used to teach in a public school, which I got to chance to attend later on. Since my father was a constriction manager he has to move different parts of the country. During the weekdays my mother used to leave me with the neighbors to watch me while she is in school. What I am about to tell you now happened one of these days.
My mother wakes up in the morning after we ate our breakfast she ran to her job (she was late as the usual). Around 4:00 in the morning, which is the same as 10:00 am in westerners, I got out and started playing my favorite game, hide and seek. After some time I saw an egg in a “mud”. It seems like a full egg and I want to play with it. So t sneak out of my friends sights and began my way to the egg which was located somewhat in the middle of the mud. Before I know it I found my burning from my leg up. The only thing I remember after that was I being in a hospital because my legs had burned seriously. After all the egg I saw was surrounded by a hidden fire from burned wood under the mud and was empty egg flipped upside down.
Who am I today? When I see myself in the mirror of life, the person who walks around the school, who works in seven-eleven or the person who believes in Christianity, is not a product of one particular thing. Instead from the time I started breathing by myself until today, there is a big gap not only physically, but also mentally and psychologically.
As in my family, which now resides in different continents of the world, there are three younger sisters and me the bigger one. I always have got the chance to be a role model both in and out of school.
I started school in younger ages like three to four going to school with my mother, since there was nobody to take care of me at home. While in the class, my mother will let me be with her students the whole day and I began enjoying school. From that time on my father used to teach me math, and English at home and I began to learn a lot of things immediately
By Benyam




I see myself as a smart, beautiful, unique, young lady. I may be a little difficult to understand at times, I also may be a little mysteriously frustrating, but over all I am a kind, friendly person. I believe I am fun to be around. I am honest, so you can always count on the truth from me. I keep secrets well. I am very trustworthy, so you can feel secure around me. I am very creative and multi-talented. I express myself well in my writing. My poetry is an example of my expressive writing.
I am a daughter and a sister. I am also a grandchild, niece, cousin, and god-daughter. I am a friend to many. I represent North Philadelphia, is my former neighborhood. I am a strong black female and a citizen of the African American race.
I love my family. I really love to be different. I fear god and him only, because he is the creator of the world. I dislike evil spirits and I feel insecure when they are in my presence. I am afraid to face death, and I hope and pray I won’t have to any time soon.
I need and want affection. I need my family and my friends. I need and want an education. I need a job, that provides me enough money, so that I can get things I really like, like clothes. I know myself and my objectives and priorities. I feel that the world should be a more peaceful place. I feel that one day the opinion that “female are smarter than males,” will become a proven fact. Maybe I’ll tak place in proving this opinion to be correct! This is who I am in a summary. I’am alike, but I’m also different. Overall, all I am is me.
By Tyneka Amber Turner [otherwise known as T, Tee-Tee, Ty, Neka, Tiny, Nek-Nek]




 I am Khalif Dominic Horton. I am the son of Kevin Mitchell and Rita Horton. I am a 16 year old eleventh grader. I see myself as a very smart guy who always wants to have fun no matter time nor place. I see myself as a really good football and basketball player. I see myself as a really good friend and a good person to talk to. I see myself as a slacker who sometimes needs motivation to get going especially in school. I see myself as a person who few people really understand because I don’t see things the way they do. I see myself as an African American/Other who gets followed around in stores and who gets stereotyped by people because of the way I dress, look, and talk.
My race has affected who I am because in a way it is holding me back, like if I’m filling out a job application and put down African American/Other I could just imagine what they do to it. They probably just ball it up. My race has affected who I am because when you’re black or any other minority and you live in the ghetto you have to have this attitude like everybody for themselves and when your really think about it, it’s pathetic and sad. You also have to have this attitude like you don’t give a f**k about nothing or nobody but family and yourself, and sometimes just yourself. Most of the people I know (black) really don’t care about much.
My race has affected who I am because sometimes I’m proud to be an African American and sometimes I feel all odds are against us and that makes me sad.
I think that Black people are the strongest people on this earth if you think about how much we struggled and still persevered. My race has affected what I am because my race has altered my way of thinking and living.
I see myself as a person who loves music period no matter what kind. I see myself as a very caring and sympathetic person, especially to those who can’t defend themselves or are very close to me. I am me, Khalif, all of the above.
By Khalif D. Horton



allabenyammap (1)

I am Ala Uddin. I was born in Bangladesh. I am the third son of a family of seven children. My country is a beautiful country; however, the economy is very poor, and the possibilities for advancement are very few there. I came to America with my family two years ago when I was sixteen years old. The reason why we decided to come to America was to find a better life. In Bangladesh, the political situation is very bad, and people kill people with without reason.
During my first year here in Philadelphia, I had to work fully time because of the difficulties and needs of my family. After one year I enrolled myself at University City High School to become a good student of English, and other subjects being taught to other students my age. I have been at University Cith High School for at least one and half years now, and I am trying to be like a sponge as far as learning is concerned. I love school, and I love my new American friends. I also work on the weekends to help my family, and I have very little time to myself. With all this, I am happy to have the chance to follow my studies, because it is very difficult to get a good education in my country.
I want to work hard to achieve the many wonderful things available to me in this country, and I am ready to struggle through the numerous difficulties that may arise. I want to go to college. My ultimate goal is to become a computer engineer. I want to become involved in the wonderful process of exploration and discovery in an every-growing field.

By Ala Uddin




 I am a convcentrative student trying to understand everything that comes out of my teacher’s mouth and writes ono the board. In class I try to ignore all social relationships because passing is very important to me. At lunch I become a laid back person who talks mostly about video games and sports with my friends.
At home I live with my grandmother and little cousin, Christian. At home my personality changes completely. I sort of become a comedian and bully. I just look at TV and daydream, or do something. Once 6:00 pm gets here, all I know is basketball. I play basketball in the gym around the corner. On the court I become my biggest criticizer, observing myself play. Basketball is religion to me, it is my only reason for living. After basketball, I do my homework. Than after that I have to eat before I go to sleep. And that’s who I am.
I want to play sports so I can try to get a scholarship to college. I also want to go to film school. If I’m not in a school or pro-sports league I have no idea where I will be. I want to play pro-basketball, or be a Hollywood movie writer and director. If I can’t have those jobs, I’ll be a FBI agent, or police detective, or just some kind of advanced law employment. If I make it in Hollywood I think I can be one of the greatest writers and directors of all time.

By Joshua




I am from two parents, one a loving mother, the other an irresponsible and confused man.
I am from a single household filled with love, friendship, and knowledge, a place that I am glad to call home.
I am from years of learning and good grades to prove it, but also a year of wrong choices and not so good grades to prove it.
I am from years of being a leader in a not so leadable world.
I am from years of pain, loss, and struggle, but also years of accomplishments, victory, and joy.
I am from a society that judges for the wrong reasons, despite the fact that everyone is supposed to be equal.
I am from supportive friends and a proud family.
From a world filled with envious and devious people who call themselves friends, but for the most part don’t even know my name.
I am from a place where people with completely different goals, points of views, feelings, and reasons for being, hang out together.
I am not from a father who loves and provides for me.
I am from within myself.

By Tiffany Curtis




I see myself as an intelligent African American young woman. I am part of an enormous world and I was put here for a specific reason and purpose. “I have great responsibilities not only as a Christian, but as a black girl. I don’t believe that I am like everyone else or that I should do what everyone else does. I am a person who will do the best that I can to succeed, whether it’s because of my race, gender, attitude, beliefs, or where I live.
I see myself as a child of a strong, worthy, and spiritual black woman and a sacred, irresponsible and troubled black man. I am the daughter of a single mother and the sister of an identical twin, who is just like me in almost all aspects. I see myself as a lucky and blessed child of God, who is proud of who I am and whose I am. I may not have grown up with a loving and happy father who was there when I needed him, but I am better off without him being in my life than most people who have him in theirs.
Who am I today? Today I am a teenager who is growing up around loving and wise people who would do anything for me. I am realizing and experiencing new concepts as I grow and mature. Today I am a sixteen year old young Christian adult, who is going to do all that I need to do to get where I need to go. Today I am growing into a responsible woman, who knows what she wants to do in life. Today, I am all that I need to be…me!!!

By Stephanie Curtis




I am African American and I think my culture is very important. There are many achievements in my background. My great, great grandmother is still alive. She is about one hundred and eight years old. She was the first black women to get her Avon license. I was also told that she was a slave for a short period of time.
My grandparents grew up in Georgia, which is also know as “down south”. My mother was also born down south, but she came to Philadelphia when she was two years old. My grandparents walked in the walk on Washington.
It seems that as an African American, it is kind of hard to achieve or become something in life. Sometimes you might not have the good advice or someone pushing you to do good. When I get in college, I want to be in a multi-cultural society. I want to make sure that there is someone of my race at that college, that I can go to help for.
I live in a neighborhood called “The Bottom” in West Philadelphia. In my neighborhood we have community meetings. These meetings are for people who live in the neighborhood to come out and find out the coming events in the neighborhood and to share any concerns that they have.
There is also a community garden. It was built three years ago and my family has a plot in it.
Sometimes there are girls on the corner of my block. These girls are called hookers. They stand on the corner and wait for a man or a woman to come pick them up and they have sex for money. I don’t think that’s a good thing, because what if inspectors want to give money to our neighborhood. If they see that, they might think that we don’t care.

By Jewel Pierce




I am  Jermaine Orlando Softleigh. I am 18 years and i am a student of University High School and i am a junior. I am the third born in my family and i am a soccer player. I am a very nice person who likes to learn about outher people and how they live. I am a heart patient who had heart surgery 5 months after i entered the United States of America from Guyana, where i was born.. I consider myself as a young African American male who is easy going, very interested to know about about other people and i am a loving person who will like to become a person to work with wild flie of the world and make sure they exist for the next 2000 years.
My worst memory in my life was seeing the trmour in my heart and being told by the doctor that i had to have a heart surgery on that. Same day also seeing the machine that i had to be on for the surgery it was my most terrifying memory in my life. That was my worst memory because i was afraid of dying and i have never been in a hospital after i was born and being in a operation room.
There are many young people people dieing in the world today by drugs and guns. The war beteen countries are getting more violent every year. The biggest problem today is globlal warming because of the dangerous gases that are being let into the air by many companites. The law system is being controlled by money.
In conclusion i hope by now some of the problems that i have highlighted are not important only to me because if someone in high power don’t deal with these problems many parts of the world will be a very bad and unsafe place to live.
Jermaine Orlando Softleigh

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