Roneisha Pugh

Last updated: 2012

Roneisha Pugh

2012 Beat the Odds Honoree

At an early age, Roneisha Pugh has faced the harsh realities of both life and loss. As a newborn, Roneisha was placed in the care of a grandfather who cared for her for three years until he met an untimely death due to complications from AIDS. Roneisha and her older brothers were sent to live with an aunt who cared for her until 2007 when she lost her life to cancer.

Though Roneisha enjoyed a close and loving relationship with her aunt, she admits that the physical, mental, and emotional abuse that she and her brothers suffered at the hands of her aunt’s alcoholic husband created an unforgettably volatile living environment.

Left in the care of her uncle after the passing of her aunt, Roneisha recalls the escalation of violence and abuse, and acknowledges that her life “started spiraling out of control.” With her grades slipping, her confidence shattered, and her dreams of becoming a doctor fading, Roneisha grew tired of her domestic situation and finally reached out to family for safe harbor. Now living with extended family in a loving and supportive home, Roneisha has become an exceptional role model for others in her community--excelling academically and proving herself “resilient and insightful.” Though Roneisha is proud of her decision to eliminate the violence surrounding her, she lives each day with the guilt of leaving her older brothers who chose to remain in the home with their abusive uncle. Although Roneisha worries about the toll the abuse has taken on them, she acknowledges that “getting out of that situation was the best thing that has happened to me.” Roneisha understands, “I wouldn’t have been able to protect them because I couldn’t even protect myself.”

Inspired by the loss of her grandfather and aunt to incurable diseases, Roneisha’s three goals in life are “to go to college, become a doctor, and to be successful. “Everyday,” says Roneisha, “I am beating the odds and becoming one step closer to my goals.”

Roneisha currently maintains a 3.9 grade point average.