A conversation with Lawyer/Activist Lasheca Lewis Esq.

While Lasheca expresses her appreciation for opportunity programs, she does not hesitate to point out the systemic problems that contribute to the lack of resources in school districts like Wyandanch. She speaks protectively about her teachers whose hard work nurtured the minds of their students despite the lack of resources available in more affluent school districts. She drives this point home recounting the time Congressman Israel brought the Philharmonic Symphony Choir to Milton L. Olive Middle School in Wyandanch when she was in eighth grade. The then fourteen-year-old Lasheca enjoyed the cultural enrichment this event provided, yet she also understood the need for more comprehensive change: “There I was after the performance, sitting with the rest of students in the auditorium in a discussion with school administrators, politicians and community stakeholders. And News 12 was there!
The assistant principle gave me a dirty look, but my history teacher came to me and told me how much he loved my energy. He could see that I saw past the performance and spoke about the reality we students faced in our school district.”

One may wonder how Lasheca developed her confidence and character at such a young age. She is the first to say that it was her mother Renee who gets the lion’s share of credit. In eighth grade, Lasheca learned of a study abroad program in Australia. She asked her mom to accompany her to the informational meeting at school. Initially excited to hear about the travel itinerary, Lasheca’s voice begins to crack and tears well in her eyes when she explains what happened next: “As I began reading the material, I saw that the program would cost five thousand dollars. I thought, forget it! There was no way my family can come up with five thousand dollars. It hurt to read about the places in Australia I could not visit and all the things I would not learn. It felt like a tease! I got up to leave, but my mom made me stay until the end of the presentation. It was a good thing we did because we found out that students could organize fundraisers to pay for their trip.” Renee helped her daughter raise money, working tirelessly to promote Lasheca’s cause with community leaders and local organizations. All of the Wyandanch teachers and staff helped and so did the entire Wyandanch community and Rhoda Miller.

Ultimately, Lasheca raised the money and made it to Australia. She makes a point to note that she was the only black student to participate in this study abroad program. She enjoyed her fellow students’ company, albeit they were far more privileged than she was, and lived in places on Long island she had never before visited:

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