My name is Destiny Gallagher. I’m not going to give up.

My name is Destiny Gallagher
Destiny, with Executive Director of the WV Healthy Kids and Families Coalition Stephen Smith.

[If you’re inspired by Destiny’s story, join her in fighting for West Virginia’s children and families by voting in the Our Children, Our Future Ballot! It’s fast, fun and easy!]

My name is Destiny Gallagher. I was born in New York but I’ve lived in Peytona, Boone County, for 12 years. I want to be a nurse when I grow up, because I really enjoy helping people.

I am also a leader with EPIC, which is a youth leadership program.  I started in 8th grade, and this year I became a leader.

That’s what school should do – provide ways to tap into your passions. 

When I first moved here, I hated West Virginia. I felt isolated. But, after a while, I began to see how kind people were. I started to see opportunities, and was able to seize some of those opportunities as a leader, in my school and my community.

Now, this feels like my home. I feel safer here. I know I can be a high-strung person sometimes, and I want to be in a place that’s peaceful.

I love school – I get teased for how much I love school! I go to vocational classes in nursing, and I feel like I am ready to go to work immediately. When I graduate I will be certified as a phlebotomist, nursing assistant and EKG technician.

Both of my parents are hard working, but we can’t make ends meet sometimes.

That’s what school should do – provide ways to tap into your passions. Entrepreneurship education is crucial too, and schools don’t do a lot of it: “I can teach you how to do an algebraic equation, but I don’t know how to write a check.”

I don’t think everybody gets a fair chance. I see bullying at my school, because of race. Even teachers get taunted. I see people use stereotypes all the time. School should be equal for everybody, because everybody has good ideas, and we need all the good ideas we can get. I feel like sometimes we leave people out, or don’t include their ideas, because we are afraid of them. And that’s not right.

I will be only the second person in my family to graduate from college.

I want to go to Barea College, because Barea was specifically made for low-income people. It is built to be affordable, and they give you the opportunity to work for your education if you can’t afford it. It will allow me to graduate without any debt. I will be only the second person in my family to graduate from college other than my aunt, and she’s still paying off her college debt.

Both of my parents are hard-working. My dad works at Proud Eagle, a beer distribution company. He works from 4 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon. And my mom works at a butcher, cutting deer.

They both work hard, but we can’t make ends meet sometimes. And they are always stressed over something. Dad is usually stressed about money, and Mom is always stressed about something. There’s a lot of arguing and fighting, and constant tension. I see my dad cry inside, I see him having to sell things in order to make ends meet.

I get really sad sometimes, because I’m worried that the way I see the world might never happen. But I’m not going to give up.

They’ll get upset, and then I’ll offer to help, but then they get mad because they don’t want me to know. I just feel like if somebody works hard they should be able to make a living.

To achieve any of these things, the one thing I would do is come together as a state – and learn to love and look past our differences and work on the stuff that really matters.

But I think too many people aren’t doing anything themselves to improve this. They rely on the government to do everything, but too often the government isn’t doing a good job. I get really sad sometimes, because I’m worried that the way I see the world might never happen. But I’m not going to give up. And I don’t want anyone else who is working hard to give up, either.

This article is the transcript of a speech originally delivered by Destiny on the floor of the West Virginia State Legislature during the 2015 Our Children, Our Future Statewide Policy Summit in Charleston.

To learn more about how you can be involved in Our Children, Our Future, contact Chris Kimes at ckimeshkfc@gmail.com, or 304.561.7728.