Rashema Meekins

2022 Golden Women

Main Scholarship Winner

Pursuing Master's Degree in Social Work

Howard University

Why continuing an education is so important to her:

"It has always been a goal of mine to attend Howard University. I applied and was accepted into the Howard MSW program in 2015. However, being financially challenged and unable to find a job and affordable housing, I became highly discouraged and went on a hiatus from obtaining my MSW. Now that I am no longer burdened by those challenges mentioned above and Howard's MSW program is being offered online, I took the leap of faith, reapplied, and was accepted for the second time. God blessed me with a second chance, and now it is my time to finish what I started back in 2015. Getting my Master of Social Work (MSW) Degree from Howard University will be the stepping-stone to elevate me to where I want to be in life and my social work career. I genuinely believe that my calling and purpose in social work are much bigger than any obstacles I may face."

Rashema proudly supports:

Virginia Army National Guard

Omega Rho Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Urban League of Greater Richmond Young Professionals

Virginia Sheriff’s Association

National Association of Black Social Workers

Sisters in Session – James Madison University

Rashema, what does the term “Golden Women” mean to you?

The term "Golden Women" means that women are highly favored, successful, admired, and who excels in things that she sets out to do. A Golden Woman exudes greatness and her presences is felt when she walks into a room, even before speaking. The term reminds me of Jill Scott's song, "Golden." The song symbolizes how we, as Golden Women, are in control of our lives/freedom and living life to the fullest.

Rashema, describe something that is plaguing young women today and explain what can be done to turn it around? What can you do to help?

Opioid abuse is plaguing our young women. Opioid abuse does not discriminate and affects young women of every race. As a Re-Entry Specialist for a local jail, I oversee case management for women residents and sit on the Central Virginia Overdose Committee as a working group member. I have witnessed firsthand how opioids ravage our young women. They often come into the jail under the influence of opioids and are placed in a single cell to "detox" under the care of medical staff. In those cells, the young women are incoherent, irritable, and in pain from withdrawal. Some of these young women are younger than 25. It is as if opioid abuse victims are getting younger and younger. We have lost too many lives, especially young lives, to opioids.

Opioid use rates amongst young women are dangerously rising. Studies have found that young women "progress faster in addiction than young men, face different barriers in getting help, and recover differently," according to Katie Schultz, LCSW of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. According to the National Safety Council, "The 25- to the 34-year age group is experiencing the most opioid overdose deaths – 17,344 – a 38% increase from 2019, and a 1,312% increase since 1999. Currently, 72% of preventable opioid deaths occur among those ages 25 to 54.