Having experienced parents who faced substance abuse and incarceration, Turquoise’s upbringing placed her in the foster care system. At 16, Turquoise was diagnosed with depression and dropped out of high school. For next 12 years, Turquoise remained entrenched in sex work through trafficking and during this time became a mother. Turquoise has had to overcome depression, trafficking, grief, homelessness, and addiction. Motivated to change her circumstances, Turquoise embarked on a journey of self-discovery, education, advocacy, and healing. Determined to create a brighter future for herself, Turquoise put sex work behind her, entered a rehabilitation center, regained custody of her son and set her sights on achieving higher education. Turquoise decided on a CUNY community college and majored in Human Services. Becoming a full-time student afforded Turquoise the ability to be active on campus. Turquoise was elected Treasurer of the Sisterhood Society Club, then Club President the following semester. Turquoise also had the pleasure of being a student instructor for the African-American Studies course: Black Men in Contemporary Society, which opened her eyes to social issues and empowered Turquoise in her leadership abilities. After obtaining her degree in Human Services, Turquoise moved on to Hunter College to pursue a Master’s in Social Work. Turquoise looks forward to utilizing her experiences and wisdom to create healing spaces, in communities and human vessels.

“With the Women’s Forum Education Award, I plan to begin my journey as a small business owner opening a local bookstore and community resource that would provide holistic healing, educational workshops, and resources to my community in the Lower Eastside of Manhattan. This would provide not only a steady income for my family and myself but also a pot of soil to build community.” – Turquoise Martin