It’s amazing how one small moment in a person’s life can change everything and set them on a remarkable course, and that’s exactly what happened to Selena Bradley.
In second grade, Bradley had a teacher who was really hard on her because she was struggling in math, but she was too shy and quiet to ask for help. One day when her teacher gave Bradley her quiz back, she told Bradley that she didn’t think she would go very far in life.
Bradley was devastated. She went home in tears, believing everything her teacher had told her. Luckily, her family was there to pick her back up and tell her how amazing and capable she was. From that moment on, Bradley decided she was going to do everything she possibly could to prove that teacher wrong.
After graduating from high school, Bradley went to Purdue University to earn her bachelor’s degree in International Studies. For her degree, she studied Spanish and Russian thinking that she wanted to be a translator, but after graduating found herself substitute teaching. It didn’t take long for her to fall in love with education and realize her true passion was in helping others reach their full potential.
Bradley went back to school at Calumet College of St. Joseph to earn her second bachelor’s degree in education. After earning her second degree, she taught for 10 years and loved every second. Then, one day, Bradley had another epiphany.
One day, one of Bradley’s students came to her and told her she was pregnant. After the student had the baby, Bradley realized she was struggling from postpartum depression and told the student’s family so they could get her the help she needed. This interaction made Bradley realize that she wanted to be able to help her students in a different way.
For the third time, Bradley decided to go back to school. She headed back to Purdue University to earn two master’s degrees in Counseling and Leadership.
Now, with her two bachelor’s degrees and two master’s degrees, Bradley is the lead counselor at Gary West Side Leadership Academy and couldn’t be happier. She does everything from leading her fellow counselors to working with partners to make sure her students have the best college readiness opportunities that they possibly can to training other people. Her favorite thing to do, though, is work with the students.
“The best part of the job is working with students. There’s nothing nicer than working with the students and getting to sit down and talk to them about what's working, what's not working, and what they need. Those conversations are so important and, to me, very cool,” said Bradley.
It’s truly incredible that all of this was made possible simply because one teacher told her she wasn’t good enough. Now, Bradley fights to make sure every adult and child she meets knows they’re enough.
“Everybody has something important to add to the world. It’s all about just encouraging people to be open-minded and respect others,” said Bradley.
If Bradley could give anyone who’s been told they aren’t good enough a piece of advice, it would be to never give up and have confidence in yourself--don’t let someone distort your image of who you are.
“Don't give up. Just because one person sees you in a negative light doesn't mean that defines you. There's more to you, there's more to your character. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and advocate for yourself and make sure to surround yourself with people that love you and believe in you,” said Bradley.
Looking to the future, Bradley hopes to one day have her own private counseling practice. After earning her degree in school counseling, she was only one credit away from also earning her degree in mental health counseling. Her professors always told her she would be a wonderful therapist, and Bradley feels that helping people with her own practice would be a dream come true.
“Whether when or if that's going to happen, I don't know, but that's my dream. I feel like when you have everything right in the mind everything else in life falls into place. It is important to take care of yourself, and if you're not doing well mentally it’s good to see a therapist. Many people believe that seeing a therapist makes you weak, but If anything, it makes you strong. It takes a strong person to say ‘I need help with this,’” said Bradley.
Regardless of where Bradley ends up, though, she’ll always be grateful to her family for always being there to support and push her.
“The one thing I love about family is that they never give up on you. They always try to meet you where you are and they challenge you to grow. My family helped me grow as an adult and showed me how to learn new things and realize how I can be better at things. I love my parents for instilling in me the values of being a hard worker and being honest,” said Bradley.
Bradley’s also grateful for her husband and her kids who teach her lessons about happiness every single day.
“They show me that happiness is important. Sometimes I just have a long day at work and I’m tired and my kids will tell me how hard I work and invite me to sit and take a break and have a juice box with them. It's refreshing to have children. I'm very blessed,” said Bradley.