Through despair comes beauty. That is the story of Michaela DePrince. Michaela was born with vitiligo, “a disease that causes patches of skin to lose its color.” She was born in Sierra Leone where vitiligo was considered “a curse of the devil.” After her father was killed and her mother died from an illness, she was placed in an orphanage, but was ostracized by her society due to her disease.

At the orphanage, Michaela became inspired to be a dancer after seeing a ballerina on a magazine cover. Shortly thereafter, a large family in the United States who understood her passion for ballet adopted her. Michaela started classes and was a student at several prestigious schools, including Rock School for Dance Education and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at the American Ballet Theater. She has danced with the Dance Theatre of Harlem and Dutch National Junior Company. Her bio states, “Michaela worked hard to develop her skills so that she could overcome stereotypes of conventional beauty and racial barriers in the world of ballet.”

It is such an inspirational story of survival and hard work. I loved her determination to follow her dreams and let nothing stop her until she accomplished them. That is like a lot of children in foster care or who have been adopted. Many of them have experienced trauma, physical or emotional abuse, chaos, or all of the above. Michaela experienced these but they didn’t stop from dreaming and achieving her dream. I hope her story can be an inspiration to many.

Currently, Michaela now performs with the Dutch National Company as Grand Sujet. She also shares her message to disadvantaged young people, of “hard work, perseverance and hope, in order to encourage them to strive for a dream.”

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