2016 Sheilah A. Foundation Scholarship Recipient
Infinity Ramey was 14 when she first came to camp five years ago. Today, she is a 2016 SAD Foundation scholarship recipient and a first-year psychology major at Western Michigan University. Thoughtful, composed, quietly confident, she aims to be a forensics psychologist. Her siblings – Benjanae, Ralph and Chance as well as her cousin DeCari – have all attended Camp Sheilah.
CHANGES OVER TIME
When she first came to camp, it was with folded arms and a moody teenager’s stoic air. Nobody at home talked about the loss Infinity experienced when she was six years old. Before coming to camp, Infinity says, “I never gave people a chance to know me. I brushed it off. I didn’t need more friends. Camp made me a lot more open to people and allowed other people to get to know me.”
Prodded by her aunt and grandmother, she unpacked her bags in the woodsy cabin that first day with the notion that if she had to be there she might as well take something from it.
She was surprised by what followed. During the first camp, she actually had fun. The second camp the following year, however, was a tipping point. “I started learning after the second one that I was connected with other people,” she said. “After five years . . . I talked to everybody I went to camp with. I just know that I have someone there for me, not just family. It can be a friend, my big buddy. Someone is always there for me.”
Finding people outside her family who cared proved to be critical in Infinity’s grief journey. Like many children, she worried about her family’s feelings. Being sensitive to them made talking about her loss difficult. What if they were depressed? What if it hurts them to talk about their loss or bring up sad memories? She says people outside the family are different. “I just always had somebody who went through what I went through,” Infinity points out. “I’m not the only one who went through something like that.”
SCHOLARSHIP EASES COLLEGE BURDEN IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE
Infinity was very grateful for the scholarship. It will help pay off her balance next semester on the heels of other scholarships. It also gave her confidence. Going off to college is a scary step for young people – you replace the comfort and security of home with navigating solo – but leaving home with a loss by homicide makes college even more intimidating. Infinity explains, “Everyone else’s parents come down for family weekend and it’s the mother and the father. I didn’t have that coming here. I have my stepfather – but you always want your father.”
She looked for a support group, but there was none. “There’s a lot of support groups for those who lost parents by cancer, for example, but they don’t have one for people who have lost someone to homicide,” she said. “I feel like they should have more support groups for people like me and my siblings. They should look at all the reasons why people don’t have a family member in their life. It’s a different type of trauma.”
In fact, she says there aren’t a lot of things out there in general. “A lot of people don’t get what we go through on a daily basis. Hopefully, more people will support this (the SAD Foundation) so it can help more people.”
CONNECTING MAKES A DIFFERENCE
Experiencing a death in her family by homicide definitely influenced Infinity’s career goals. Like many scholarship recipients, she has taken her tragedy and used it for something good – to help her community. She likes talking to people and figuring out why they do the things they do. She is intrigued by crime scenes and about finding the truth behind people’s actions; these are qualities important for a forensics psychologist.
As for her loss, she has learned to live with it as an “everyday” thing. “A lot of people who were there (at camp) – you never thought they would go through what they did,” said Infinity. Camp helped her deepen connections with people. One of those people includes the mentor and friend she was paired up with at camp, Kristie.
Do they still talk? Do they ever! “We talk all the time,” said Infinity with a big smile. “She came to my graduation. She lives in Illinois. She was talking about coming to the luncheon for the scholarship. She’s like a mom. She tried to make my bed at camp.” Infinity describes Kristie as nurturing, always there “whenever I need her,” a big support system. In addition to Kristie, Infinity also made a deep and lasting friendship with Brianamarie Trice, a college freshman who also earned a SAD Foundation scholarship in 2016. In talking about the luncheon, Infinity adds wistfully, “Hopefully, Bri can come.”
A FOOTPRINT OF KINDNESS
“The mark I want to leave on this world is that I want people to know that I love to help people,” she says. She credits Camp Sheilah for bringing out this quality. By hearing other people’s stories – especially those from peers – she realized she was not the only one who grieved loss by homicide. She adds that after camp, she “wanted to help anyone I could who was going through what I went through.”