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Editor’s Note: Evanston Essays is a new ongoing series highlighting people’s thoughts, memories and opinions of Evanston. We often hear what is wrong with Evanston, but we would like to hear from you, what is right or what you love. If you’d have an essay of about 500-600 words you’d like to share, please send it to news@evanstonroundtable.com.

Becoming an adult has shown me the importance of home. 

Credit: Graphic by Jasper Davidoff

Home is where community thrives. It all starts at home. If your home life isn’t where you want it to be, then your experiences in the world will most likely be negative. A community can’t thrive if the people who live there don’t feel comfortable enough to give back. Your experiences shape who you are, and you must advocate for yourself and be willing to make a difference.  

I am a 19-year-old Black woman attempting to thrive. I am privileged in a lot of ways – like living with my mother and knowing my family. 

In Evanston, you decide to be privileged. To indulge in the opportunities that you are given is to have positive experiences. In Evanston I have had many different experiences; none were negative. Even in the times when I thought these experiences to be negative, I valued finding something positive in each experience no matter what I have gained. It all starts with you. 

Najiah Osborne

No matter where you live in this world, every place has problems. 

Evanston is known for being an expensive place to live, and while every community lacks some sort of economic diversity due to inflation, Evanston is a town grounded in assuring that everyone is heard. Everyday someone is making a difference in the community for underprivileged individuals that want opportunity. Tana Francellno, my mother, is the career partnership manager at my High School, Evanston Township. Through her work, she is able to provide students with career exploration. She also worked at Books and Breakfast, a program for underprivileged students that need assistance in academic growth.

When the foundation of a community is built on the basis of togetherness and opportunity, people have the ability to succeed. In order for society to progress, we need to be ourselves and take steps outside our comfort zone. In college, I’ve grown a lot and have stepped outside my comfort zone completely. I have been able to change my life. I no longer wait for the opportunities to come to me, I advocate for myself. 

Advocating for yourself means communicating your desires. For example, I aspire to become a writer; in order for me to do that I must go to college. I was granted the opportunity to be part of Evanston Scholars, a program that helps students prepare for college, and by communicating my needs to them I was able to select my school, Augustana College. Communicating is what will assist you in being successful. I used to have a hard time doing this in high school because I was always intimidated by other students. I overcame these feelings by gaining more confidence in myself and my abilities. 

Coming home, I felt many things. I felt feelings of nostalgia, as I have many feelings about the past. Growing up in Evanston, your opportunities shape your experiences, and there are many things about my past experiences here that help me remember how far I’ve grown and we’ve grown as a community. 

Though college has given me the opportunity to grow, there’s no place like Evanston. Your experiences are one of a kind. The people you meet are amazing, and being able to take the train and bus places was something I took for granted for a while. At college public transportation was hard to use. 

Being in college has illuminated all of the positive experiences I’ve had socially in Evanston. I’ve been honored with the opportunity to indulge in my chosen career field, and the ability to volunteer. 

Being a community advocate has shown me that change is possible no matter where you’re from. My experiences in Evanston shaped me into the individual I am today. I am very proud of who I am becoming, and am appreciative of how far I’ve come. 

Evanston is my home, there is no place I’d rather be. 

Najiah Osborne

Najiah Osborne is an intern with the Evanston RoundTable. Currently a student at Augustana College, she graduated from ETHS in 2021.

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  1. What a great essay! Thank you Najiah for sharing your positive experiences about growing up in Evanston. I am exhausted sometimes by the constant drumbeat of negativity here; if I listen too closely, I entertain thoughts of leaving. I am thankful for the privilege of being able to volunteer and to engage in community efforts that strive to unite rather than divide. These activities help to turn down the noise and focus on the things I can control; I appreciate your reminder!