ST. PETERSBURG — For Dajaih Marion, family is important and makes up a large part of her world. She proudly announces having three younger siblings: Alfred Jr., Leondre and Angel. She sees herself as being a role model and most often a big impact in young people’s lives. Her older brother Devonte and her parents, Natasha and Alfred Copeland, round out the family.
Life is great when there’s peace, family, caring and sharing. Except for an occasional sibling spat, the family keeps her smiling.
However, when you are a senior at St. Petersburg High School with lofty goals, life doesn’t always present itself as a fairytale—not even for an outgoing and open hearted singing songbird like Dajaih.
“During high school I faced many challenges,” said Dajaih. They included friendships, grades and sometimes relationships. The biggest challenge I had to face was passing a bunch of different test that were required for graduation. It took me maybe eight times to pass the reading test just so I could be an official high school graduating senior.”
Enter Mrs. Debbie Drapo. She is the reading teacher that seemed to have every test studying skill that’s needed to pass, and every motivating word needed to be heard for her reading students to keep them moving, even when it got harder. She put in the students’ minds that they could do it. Dajaih heard her loud and clear.
“It was a challenge and I had to overcome these challenges by not giving up,” said Dajaih, breathing a brief sigh of relief. “I have major support from my family, mainly my mother. My mom was there through every tear and heartbreak and even though I hated the lectures and everything she said most of the time, in the end I realized that it was the tough support that I needed to keep me on track.”
Indeed Dajaih stayed on track. She was president and secretary for the Girlfriends service club and a member of another one called the Rojans. For one of the service events in the Girlfriends Club, she put together a project where they gave donations to homeless mothers, mainly teen mothers. The Girlfriends decorated care boxes for distribution at different locations.
“I believe that my purpose in life is to help others who need it, be a role model to girls who are heading down the wrong roads and to just be a big impact on people’s lives,” said Dajaih.
Now that the reading test is behind her and diploma in hand, she can continue her plans to attend St. Petersburg College for a year and then transfer to a historical black college or university of her choice. She plans on majoring in social work because it will offer the opportunity to help with troubled families and especially teens.
“In college I plan on getting involved in campus activities,” said Dajaih. “In 10 years, I see myself head of my own office being the head counselor and the best psychiatrist in the city. A family of my own may come about but that isn’t in my plans right now.”
With a family gathering on the horizons with food, fun and laughter, Dajaih certainly will be singing, smiling and writing small motivational notes to herself while encouraging her younger siblings and other youth that they can do it. The diploma is the proof.