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How Diamonds Are Made

By Jade Emerson
Photo by Amber Davis

The walls of her office at the Young Women’s Leadership Academy are filled with thank you notes and graduation announcements from former students. Beside her desk in the far corner of her office are two glass vases, one filled with coal and the other with a collection of gems, pearls and diamonds. YWLA principal Tamara Albury often shows her students these vases when they visit her office. “Life through heat, time and pressure is going to make you even more valuable than you are,” she says. In the change from one vase to the other, she shows her students the beauty of transformation: What first seems like an end is only a new beginning. 

Throughout her childhood in Upstate New York, Tamara didn’t want to miss out. She tried everything from Girl Scouts to tennis to horseback riding. Every summer, she would beg her mother to let her stay longer at her overnight camp because she fell in love with the independence, nature, community and environment. But that changed when Tamara was in eighth grade — her math teacher told her that she shouldn’t switch to a higher-level math class because she wouldn’t be able to handle it. The feeling of hearing an adult tell her that she wasn’t enough stuck with her. She was determined to prove her wrong. “My best motivator is someone telling me what I can’t do,” she says.  

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