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"A scholarship from Evolutionary Aquatics will allow me to continue my academics at a collegiate level."

Dear Evolutionary Aquatics Board of Directors,

Often I am confronted with the assertion, “I didn't know black people could swim.” Some communicate this out of ignorance, and others based on past beliefs. As someone who started swimming at a very young age, I found this comment repulsing. Being in the water has been my entire life and one of my main passions. I find enjoyment in competing, teaching, and relaxing on a hot summer day while my toes dangle from the pool’s edge. Although swimming has in many ways helped form my identity, it has also prompted me to question some parts of myself. Many times I have been the only person of color in the water. I have been the only one with kinky curly hair when it's time to take my cap off at the end of practice. The only one who doesn't have beaming red cheeks after a hard set due to the pigment in my skin. The only one who can’t relate to the conversation because my mom didn’t know where she would find four hundred dollars to pay for the newest techsuit that would give me a competitive edge. Spending countless hours with people who don't look like me, talk like me, or understand my daily struggles made me question my worth at times and I began to feel the weight of being different. I wondered, why can’t my hair be easy to manage and straight like theirs? Why do I have to be the one to stand out? Is this sacrifice my mother is making financially really worth it? Why can’t my parents be the ones with a boat on the lake? The exclusion I experienced due to the color of my skin made me question myself and incoherently wonder why I couldn’t be white like everyone else on my team. As I continued to be excluded and at times had to walk to practice while some of my teammates drove past me in their luxury cars, I found meaning behind why I swim. I swim because I love it, I love the high it brings, I love feeling out of breath after a set even if my cheeks may not be rosy like everyone else's, I love teaching, I love competing, and I love to represent the underrepresented. Today, being the only person of color on the diving block brings me great honor. I treasure my accomplishments of being a North Carolina Senior State Qualifier and representing Mallard Creek High School by being on the Women's Swimming and Diving Queen City All Conference Team. I also take pride in being the only black female to swim at the 2023 NCHSAA 4A Regionals Competition. I have found value in my differences, and I no longer yearn to conform in unwanted spaces. Instead of trying to fit in, I strive to stand out. I will continue to fight the insult “I didn’t know black people could swim”, as I work with Evolutionary Aquatics to rewrite the narrative and reclaim black individuals' heritage and health. I want other little girls of color to see that there's nothing wrong with looking different. I will continue to make swim lessons accessible to young minorities. I hope they see my accomplishments and understand that they too can accomplish greatness. A scholarship from Evolutionary Aquatics will allow me to continue my academics at a collegiate level. My overall goal is to teach minorities about financial literacy and through this extraordinary opportunity I will be one step closer in closing the gap. I will need the proper education to teach and one day excel as a financial manager and having the opportunity to attend a four year university will equip me with the necessary skills to make this happen. In my many years of swimming, I have learned a lot about persistence and hard work. However, I have also learned that representation is important, and the quickest way to make change in the world is by starting yourself. Thank you for considering me for this scholarship as I know I will do great things with this monetary donation.

Sincerely,

Karina Morisset

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