Hundreds of years before the musician Prince changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol, Old English poets used ancient ruins as signatures. What Prince and these poets understood was that sometimes a symbol can most accurately convey the essence of an individual. For Justice, her symbol is a hyphen. She cannot be captured with just a single word and the hyphen becomes an absolutely necessity when trying to explain the entire scope of her passions and true character. She is the hyphen that connects unconventional characteristics to illustrate her identity.
Justice is an African-American girl, with brown-so-dark-they-look-black eyes, and a not-quite-heart-shaped face. She is the little line that unites her love for logic and the predictability of math with her passion for the free form and creativity of English. She is the bridge between being a classically trained violinist with fervor for all things Mahler and happily singing everything from Motown to jazz to classic rock. She is the hyphen that connects all aspects of her, from her a-bit-below-average height to her all-consuming passion for words and books. She was once told that she is oddly grounded for a Shakespeare-loving aspiring writer and a bit too free-spirited for a clear-headed, math-loving pragmatist.
Her ability to connect her intellect and interests has provided opportunities for her to engage in her school and community. She is a serious scholar with clear ideas about the true purpose of education – not to train one for a career but instead to learn to think deeply and test ways to solve real problems for real people. Although she is an AP Scholar with Distinction, a National Achievement Scholar, a National Merit Commended Scholar, and had a nearly perfect ACT exam score, she is most gratified by her achievements that benefit others. For example, as a teen correspondent for her local newspaper The Buffalo News, Justice wrote two articles focused on what teenagers can and should do to prevent bullying. These articles became a springboard in her school district for character education and anti-bullying programs and discussions. Justice has also used her love of music to give back by encouraging passion for music in young children. She gladly spends every other Saturday morning volunteering in classes for younger violinists and infants and toddlers. These are just a few of the ways that Justice strives to share her passions and live out her true character.
Once when asked to discuss her hyphenated-self, she offered the following: “I’m a Rubik’s cube before it’s solved, intermixing colors in a messy puddle of imperfect individuality. My use of the hyphen is not only about uniting all parts of my identity, but also embracing the fact that I live in this in-between world of blended identities and indescribable opportunities. I have the potential to be all of this and so much more. I am a hyphen, and let’s be honest, who wouldn’t rather be a hyphen than, let’s say — a colon?”