Skyla Pearson was born in Philadelphia, Mississippi, a place known for its vile history with brutal racism. The Freedom Summer Murders of 1964, a hate crime that sparked national outrage and led to the first successful prosecution of a civil rights case in the State of Mississippi, happened there. Raised in a quaint, country community roughly fifteen miles outside of town, Skyla spent the majority of her upbringing as an only child in a two-parent household, finding companionship that ranged from stray animals she’d adopt, family pets, cousins, classmates, and solitude before life unfolded the inclusion of a baby brother, ten years later. The summer before high school, Skyla witnessed her city elect its first black mayor, a man she also watched appear on the BET Awards of ’09 as they acknowledged the historic win; a living room moment she’ll never forget—broadening her small-town scope on life’s possibilities and uniting every black person in her town by a shared moment on their TV screens. She believes in God, unable to credit anyone else for her capacity to heal from the sexual assault she endured at 16, about a year after those BET awards, subconsciously shifting her adolescent view on life forever. Her abuser was 26. She’s unsure if her parents were divorced by that time, having suppressed several of those memories, but recalls that they were not doing well around then either. Considering their lack of mental health education and awareness, it would take over 10 years for Skyla to understand and unlearn several unhealthy patterns, and thoughts. After too many failed attempts at recreating the safe, happy home and family she once had, Skyla went on to become not only a divorcee, but an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Navy by 28. Having served two deployments and accruing a whole new heap of PTSD, Skyla now spends most of her free time pacing her apartment in deep thought, writing about the woes of life, and advocating for the prioritization of mental health through expressing her gratitude for therapy, while also attending. She enjoys waking up to the sun shining through her blinds, long, brisk walks on the UA campus, chai tea lattes, and contributing to literary journals with concepts such as this one.