Live from the Gutter

By Brandi Patterson

Stuck. Working a dead-end job into nowhere, expecting your second or third child, and not being in school.

This is the average life of 21 year-old that’s from Jackson, Georgia – a place that I am proud to call home.

On average, one student per year gets accepted into The University of Georgia from Jackson. In 2013, I became that one.

Jackson is a small town where most residents can trace multiple generations of their family heritage within the Butts County borders. With that being said, most of the residents get stuck there for life.

Opportunity to progress is limited. The school system that I was raised in was not all that great. They didn’t care. They didn’t prepare anyone for life after graduation. It was too easy.

You only flunk out because you choose to. I was an A student and I took the “hard” classes. My success at Jackson High School landed me a seat at The University of Georgia.

I’ve always known that I am destined for greatness. These “harder” classes surrounded me with classmates that were ambitious for the same things as myself throughout school. This type of privilege was something that I desperately needed.

All odds were stacked up against me. I come from nothing. I’m Black. I’m a woman. I’m from the hood. I live in a rural town.

Only one of my parents has a high school education (and yes you read that correctly). And on top of that, some of my own family members didn’t even believe in me.

In our society, these types of people are conditioned to be put into their place. They are not conditioned to dream.

Growing up in Jackson, I was conditioned to limit myself. I wasn’t able to break this mold until I almost “failed” out of UGA my freshman year. I use the word failed in quotations because failure is relative.

I was a science major, and I was struggling in many of my classes. I had lost HOPE scholarship. In my eyes, I had failed myself.

Deep down, I hated what I was studying, but I put on a facade for everyone. I felt like I had something to prove because of everything that was stacked against me. I was tired.


In March 2014, I decided it was time for a change. I began to follow my dreams of working in entertainment media. Now, I no longer place limitations on my life. I don’t allow my surroundings to place limitations on my life, either.

We literally have the world at our fingertips. So, it would never make sense to limit ourselves to a living in a subpar neighborhood or working at the local fast food joint or grocery store for the rest of our lives.

I look at the people that are stuck in my hometown. It’s a reminder of what I “should’ve” been or what I’m “supposed” to be. I don’t pity them. However, I wish that they would understand that there is so much more to life than little ‘ole Jackson.

Even though these are my life circumstances, I don’t let them dictate my life. Since I was a young child, I have always known that I am destined for greatness. This is something that I will NEVER give up on.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Aniya Hamillton says:

    I am glad you made that step many of us are afraid to take and do something we enjoy rather than doing it based on rigor, perceived prestige as well as monetary benefits. If you do what you love, the money will come.


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