One of God’s beautiful creations, a butterfly, which is symbolic of a complete metamorphosis from being an egg, larva, pupa to an adult. This transformation also occurred in the beautiful, Alicia Cass, who is a resilient gladiator at her core, a humble kind soul and an inspiration to anyone who has been graced by her presence. Her story speaks life into the dark sinful South Los Angeles and those notorious urban streets that raised her, but did not become her.

At the innocent tender age of four, Alicia found her mother’s lifeless body in their small dwelling. Shortly thereafter, her life turned volatile with the introduction to a life of physical and sexual abuse. The death of her mother, paralleled with the ending of her childhood, and the onset of her foster care journey to abuse and self-destruction. At four and a half, Alicia experienced sexual abuse by the hands of someone who was supposed to protect her innocence. After, many bouts in foster homes; she joined the local gang selling illegal drugs for survival. At 15 years old, she was forced to leave her last foster home in Pasadena, homeless, and a high school drop. By the time Alicia was 16 she had checked all of the statistic boxes that indicated death. Three years later, at the age of 19, she had three children, no direction, guidance nor support.

With her newly adapted criminal lifestyle as the only viable source of survival, Alicia ended up in trouble with the law. Alicia, a young adult, still lost, entered in another abusive and toxic relationship in which three more children were born. While in this volatile relationship, she sustained a broken jaw amongst other knowable injuries. It was at that point she made a vow to God, simply put, “If you remove him out of my life I will serve You.” and God did.

Her metamorphosis of being a former drug dealer, gang member, a victim of child abuse and domestic violence, teenage mother and high school dropout, Alicia with her 6 children started her educational journey.

Metamorphosis completion phase, Alicia went back to adult school at 28 years old, with a lot of hard work and dedication, she successfully obtained her high school diploma. At 34, she earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in Children and Families in Urban settings from University of Southern California (USC). Proudly, at 37 years old, she completed her Masters in Social Work (MSW); also from USC while raising her children as a single parent. While at USC, Alicia received numerous accolades, she was a Norman Topping Scholar, which is a high honor that provides scholarships to first generational college students who demonstrate strong community service and outreach. Also, she received various awards and recognitions, which includes, USC Black Alumni Scholar, USC Ambassador Award, USC Trojan Recognition Award, USC McDuffie Award, USC African American Honor Society, and the USC Henry Lederman Award. Currently Alicia is a Doctorate student at the University of Southern California.

Alicia’s story of triumph and overcoming obstacles have been heard first hand at her various speaking engagements; documentaries, local churches, juvenile halls, colleges, and organizations. Project Unity, Going Straight Ministries, Loving Your Disabled Child, Sylmar Juvenile Hall, Eastlake Juvenile Hall, Long Beach City College, University of Southern California (WYSE), Stanford University (WYSE), University of California of Los Angeles (WSYE), USC Anthropology Gangs class, USC Social Work Gangs class, USC Re-entry Conference, Project Kinship, The Esther Project, Visionary Youth Center, Jackie Robinson Youth Center Pasadena, SEP coaching, LDL Foundation.