I got the opportunity to sit down with USPS employee Dequilla Alston. Through this interview, we were able to understand her transformed life as we face COVID-19. She also describes her challenges as an essential worker and mother through this trying time.
Q: Where were you born and what was your upbringing like?
A: I was born in East Orange, New Jersey. I was raised in a loving, god-fearing, single parent household. My childhood was very exciting because of my siblings, we did everything together.
Q: Who has been the greatest influence in your life that has impacted the man/woman you are today?
A: My great grandmother has definitely been my greatest influence. She was the matriarch of our family. She taught my siblings and I to cook, clean, love, trust, be independent, and so much more.
Q: What about your family?
A: I come from a big family. My mother has seven children and my father has nine.
Q: Can you tell us of your education history and what your goals or life ambition was when you were a student in High School/College?
A: I graduated from high school in 2009. From there, I went to Essex County Community College, where I intended to retrieve my degree in Music and become a famous musician. Unfortunately, due to underlying health issues, I was unable to complete my last year.
Q: Can you tell us about your job experience prior to working for the United States Postal Service?
A: I served as a waitress at many different restaurants. I also worked as a bartender.
Q: What was the most memorable point at that job?
A: The most memorable part of working at various restaurants was meeting new people.
Q: Is this where you thought you’d be five or so years ago?
A: Not at all.
Q: What informed your decision on doing what you’re doing now?
A: I decided to work for the postal service because since I became a mom, I needed a job with full benefits and flexible hours. I also loved the idea of being able to serve in my community.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: I plan on opening my own “beauty bar.” I am going to fulfill all beauty aspects for women, hair, nails, lashes, and so on.
Q: What kind of advice would you offer a student, who is undecided on his or her career path?
A: I would tell them find something you love to do and then find a way to get paid for it. That way it never really feels like work.
Q: How would you describe the state of higher education in America today?
A: I dislike the current state of higher learning today. I feel that college is essential but it isn’t necessary. It’s important to further your education, but nowadays there’s no limit to what you can do without a degree.
Q: Have you ever traveled outside of the United States? Where, and how does life outside compare to that in the US?
A: I’ve been to several third world countries and the quality of life is totally different than the U.S.
Q: What does the future hold for America?
A: The future for the U.S. is uncertain right now because we don’t know how the world will react post COVID-19. Also, we don’t know how the upcoming presidential election will turn out. With so much going on now, I can’t even begin to think how the future will look. We can only hope for the best.
Q: Are you interested in politics? If no, why not? What is your take on the state of politics and the future of the American democracy?
A: I am not interested in politics. Not to say it’s not important, but it is kind of hard to have an opinion on politics and democracy since I never really paid attention to it.
Q: How are you responding to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus? How are you handling this stay-at-home order? What keeps you going during these trying times? How can the government better handle the situation?
A:I am responding to it the best I can, just like everyone else. Doing the best we can with what’s available. I am not staying home, since I am an “essential worker,” and that has been difficult. My family is keeping me going for sure. As for the government, they can better handle this situation by providing everyone with accurate information or updates regarding the virus, that way we know how to properly react and protect ourselves. They also can consider providing citizens with monetary assistance.
Q: What are your hobbies or extracurricular activities?
A: In my spare time, I like to read. I also enjoy doing hair and nails, that’s like my side hustle.
Q: How would you describe your philosophy of life? That is, how do you see this life and what principles get you grounded and moving forward?
A: I believe that we are just living to die. I think it’s important to make the most of life by traveling, spending time with your loved ones, doing what makes you happy, and just living everyday like it’s your last. God, family, and love are some principles I live by. Those three keep me grounded for sure!
Q: Let us end this interview with a memorable quote from you.
A: “Do what makes you happy” I think that’s a quote everyone should live by!
Q: How would you describe yourself to the world? Complete the sentence: I am…
A: I am a beautiful, God-fearing, intelligent, mother.
As an essential worker, Dequilla Alston is spending most of her quarantine days at the post office. She was nice enough to take time out of her busy day and get interviewed. We thank her for her service to the community through this difficult time.
Prepared by students in The Digital Content Creation Class/The Hornet Online Newspaper at Delaware State University. Instructor: Dr. Daniel Awodiya