There are few outside of the Biblical story of Job that might have experienced the trials and tribulations that Everett High graduating senior Ann-Laurie Pierre did during the 2020 and 2021 school years – all of which was documented in a video diary on WGBH television this year.
After losing her father to COVID-19 in April 2020, and then facing her mother’s infection with COVID and a return of her mother’s leukemia, one would think that was enough – but the trials continued for the senior class president and now members of the community are rallying around her in hopes of helping her clear the expenses of going to Howard University in the fall. It’s a dream she has had since the sixth grade, and one that many hope doesn’t get derailed by her trying circumstances.
“On April 28, 2020, my father, a cancer survivor, passed away due to COVID-19,” she wrote. “I thought the challenges would stop there, but, because of the pandemic, my mother, who was working as a CNA, contracted the virus several times. Due to her weakened immune system and also as a cancer survivor, she had to stop working and has been unemployed for over a year. A single mother of three, she has had to rely on unemployment and relief checks to support our family. Then, in early December, my mother’s leukemia returned. When we got the news that my mother would need a bone marrow transplant, I quickly volunteered to be her donor because I knew the success rate would be higher if the donor were a relative.”
Pierre said she was in and out of the hospital for two months preparing for the transplant while also trying to work part-time and go to school and raise her siblings. Though she lost her part-time job that was helping to keep the family afloat, the transplant went well and her mother is still recuperating in the hospital.
That, however, has left her to care for her two siblings while trying to work part-time jobs and prepare for leaving to go to Howard.
“The transplant was successful and my mother is slowly improving, but she has been in the hospital for the past five months, leaving my half sister and I to take care of the younger kids,” she wrote. “Somehow, my mother has to send both of us off to college this year, which doubles the expenses for tuition, room and board, books…We never expected our situation to be this complicated, but with no source of income in the household, my ill mother simply cannot fund both my and my sister’s educational pursuits.”
With that in mind, Pierre was helped to start a GoFundMe page that has more than $10,000 in funds pledged, and a community fundraiser was successful last Thursday, Aug. 5, at the Village Bar & Grille.
Pierre said she has high hopes for attending Howard University, an historically black college/university in the Washington, D.C., area. She plans to enroll in the College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences as part of the Health Management Program.
“As a Black, social justice advocate, I am always trying to speak truth to power and serve those who are most in need,” she wrote. “Whether it be in the community, with an organization, or on a committee, I know I will be able to continue serving at Howard where I will be supported by amazing Black brothers and sisters who share my vision and dedication. Through my education at ‘the Mecca,’ I hope to gain the skills to fulfill my dreams of helping people in underserved communities like mine – as well as in my parent’s home country of Haiti and other developing nations – where I hope to one day build clinics and hospitals. I understand the importance of quality health care, and want to make it a reality for those in predominantly Black and Brown communities who sadly do not always have the same access and level of care as others.”
In addition to being the senior class president last school year, Pierre also started the Empowering Young Black Excellence Club at Everett High a few years back, a club that is the first Black society at the school. She also founded the Leaders of Tomorrow club to function as a Student Council, which also didn’t exist at Everett High. Outside of school, she is a member of the Teen Empowering Community program, and was also appointed to the City of Everett’s Diversity, Inclusion, Equity and Equal Employment Commission, which is currently meeting actively and discussing policies that will change how the City is run.
In addition, she said she served last fall as a Haitian Kreyol and French interpreter at the polls for the General Election.
“I was blessed to receive some financial aid and scholarship from Howard as well as other sources, and I continue to apply to more scholarship funds in hopes of receiving additional awards,” she wrote. “But, as it stands, my single mother simply cannot afford to send me to college without additional assistance, and my two part-time jobs are not enough to earn enough money to fill the gap for my educational costs due to our family’s circumstances.”
The GoFundMe page is still active and can be found online at www.gofundme.com/f/help-ann-laurie-attend-howard-university-this-fall.