Eboné Ivory: No Excuses

Eboné Ivory, a 2L student at Charleston School of Law, was recently given the ‘Hope is Activism’ award from the Hive Community Circle, a survivor-driven organization helping women and girls overcome the trauma of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and stalking.

“It’s not about the accolades or the awards. It’s not about self-gratification,” she said. “The people I’m serving are at the center of my mind when I do the work.”

If you know Eboné Ivory, you know that kindness, humility, and compassion are natural expressions of her character. You can hear it when she speaks; see it when she smiles and witness it in the graceful way she carries herself.

You would never know she has a challenging disability of her own unless she told you.

“I’m a hearing-impaired student,” she said. “I grew up with bilateral hearing loss. I can only hear 38 percent in both of my ears. I’m aided with hearing aids and so what I often tell people is hearing aids amplify what I can hear, they don’t clarify. I learned to read lips and that’s primarily how I communicate with people.”


Ivory reflected on the challenging experience of growing up in public schools with a physical disability. “There were moments where teachers didn’t really want to deal with my disabilities so they would try to discard me by putting me in classrooms with students who had learning disabilities,” she said. “Physical disabilities and learning disabilities are two very different things.”

Ivory wildly outperformed the academic requirements, and her grades provided clear evidence of her excellence as a student.  “My mother demanded that I be placed in a learning environment where I could be challenged in advanced classes.”

She remembers her mother visiting her school, carrying a “thick binder with every record throughout my entire life that showed every IEP meeting, every hearing test record, and every doctor’s note, just to be able to adequately advocate on my behalf. It had to be about four inches thick.”


Challenges can also open the door to new opportunities, and that’s exactly what happened to Eboné Ivory.

As a teenager she was a member of the Boys and Girls Club where she was strongly encouraged to participate in the Youth of the Year program, which included an oratorical competition.

“Being a hearing-impaired student and an introvert, I was not really jumping to speak and interact,” she recalls. “The most pivotal moment of my life was when I found my own voice. It was a space for me to share my story and what had happened to me, how I got to where I am today.”

As a teenager, Ivory began travelling to speak to other clubs — Rotary Club, Legion’s Club, the Kwanzaa Club, groups, churches – in Northwest Indiana, sharing her story and seeing the impact it had on people.

“That’s when I had an a-ha moment,” she said. “That’s when I learned the value of advocacy — zealous advocacy. After that experience I decided I wanted to go to law school.”


Some of the same challenges followed her from grade school to high school and college. “My parents really showed me what advocacy was, but once I got to college, I had to learn how to advocate for myself,” she said. “I was no longer under their wings, so I had to learn to speak up.”

Ivory vividly remembers a college professor who used video technology as a teaching tool in class. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires educators to provide closed captioning.

“He refused,” she said. “He said putting on closed captioning would ruin the experience for the other students. He recommended that I just not come to class. I had to engage with our Office of Disability Services and advocate for myself. We eventually got it settled.”

“It was a challenge to advocate for myself in situations where I felt extremely uncomfortable,” she said. “I was used to speaking up for other people, but not necessarily myself. That was a pivotal moment because I invested the rest of my time at the University of Alabama doing disability advocacy work.”

Overcoming another hurdle led to more opportunities. She was named Director of Disability Services for the Student Government Association, where she created programs and curriculums for students with learning disabilities.

“Some of the students had extreme cases of Autism or Down Syndrome,” she said. “While they were integrated into the academics at the university, they weren’t integrated into the social life. A lot of these students just wanted to be normal college students. They wanted to join a sorority or a fraternity, or clubs or sports.”

When she wasn’t in class or studying for her own classes, Eboné Ivory was pouring her time and talent into helping others, training students on what equity and inclusion looks like.

“Just because someone is different than you, learns differently than you, or looks different than you, doesn’t justify their exclusion,” she explained. “We are uniquely different and that is the beauty of humanity; coming together and being in spaces like Charleston School of Law, where you can contribute different perspectives to one conversation.”


During COVID she was required to return home. It was during this season that Ivory began yearning to find a way to help her community. That’s when a friend connected her with The Hive. She scheduled a meeting with the CEO, Ashley Olayinka.

“I was blown away,” she said. “It really touched me because when I was in undergrad, I was a RA which I consider the first line of defense in dormitories. We’re faced with grueling things — suicides, sexual assault, hate crimes — and I had to deal with these situations. It was a lot to endure.”

“There is truly nothing like watching someone in so much pain and knowing that there is nothing you can do to take it away. That story sticks with me. I personally am not a survivor, but I want to support survivors in any way that I can. That is why I invested so much time into this specific nonprofit.”

In addition to serving at The Hive, Eboné Ivory also volunteers at:

  • Midlands Gives is a philanthropic day that occurs the first Tuesday of May.
  • Philangood Society, a group of people in the community who focus on philanthropic giving and planning events for the Hive Community Circle.
  • Central Carolina Community Foundation (African American Philanthropy Committee)
  • The Hive Community Circle a survivor-driven, culturally specific peer advocacy organization helping women and girls in South Carolina overcome the trauma of sexual assault, intimate partner violence and stalking.

“I wanted to reinvest in my community and be a part of the growth, because South Carolina has so much potential,” she said. “I wanted to be a part of that. So, I decided that I wanted to go to law school and Charleston is really the perfect place for me to be.”


Ivory is pursuing a law degree primarily to be a commercial real estate and corporate transactions attorney “… but I have a very niche interest in historic preservation,” she added.

Since arriving in Charleston, Ivory has been active in local community volunteering and student organizations on campus.

“I’m excited to be in law school and to graduate and to know that my skill set can only further support the communities that I work with outside of my profession,” she said. “I’ve done a lot of different advocacy work and community service. It’s just about showing up for people and making sure that their voices are heard.”


Without pause, Eboné Ivory gives full credit to her parents and grandparents as mentors and role models. She was always at their side when she was young and witnessed the value of giving back through service.

“My mother and father grew up in the church and my mother raised me and my sibling in the church and taught us the value of having humility and compassion,” she said. “We did a lot of community service. The joy of knowing that you can make someone’s day a little bit better is exhilarating to me. It’s deeply rooted in my family. My grandparents were both pillars of their community and they were highly respected.”

“Both of my parents, I respect them so much,” she said. “My dad always challenged me. I grew up having to recite The Excuses Poem. He would say, ‘Excuses are the tools of the incompetent, used to build monuments of nothingness and bridges to nowhere. And those who use them often are seldom good at anything.’ Every time I tried to have an excuse as a child he would make me recite the poem. An excuse was not valid.”

Today, Eboné Ivory stills hears those words as she meets challenges in and out the of the classroom. When she feels tired: No excuses. When she struggles on a legal topic: No excuses. “Just because it’s more challenging doesn’t mean I’m not equipped to do it.”