I like things that involve international diplomacy

I like things that involve international diplomacy, volunteering and community service. Two years ago I went to the Sister Cities International Youth Leadership Summit and, ever since then, I’ve kept going and I love it. I also became one of the youth board of directors for Sister Cities Virginia Beach, so that’s kept me involved and that’s one area I’m looking at going into for a career.

Why do you think community service is important?

I think it’s important for people to serve because it’s your community and you’re also showing that to the youth who will be your future leaders. If you partake in helping your community, they will, too.

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Have a good support group

My advice for incoming high school students would probably be to always stay on top of your school work and have a good support group or group of friends that helps you out.

Have you found that yourself?

My friends always push me to get involved. Like Successful Stallions, I got involved in that because one of my friends was in it last year so she told me about it. We always help each other: do stuff outside of school, with our school work, studying and stuff like that.

Have you thought about what you might like to do when you’re older?

I think when I grow up I’d like to be a civil rights lawyer. I want to help, it sounds cliche but, make the world a better place. You know, just stop a lot of the social injustices that I see in the news now. I’d like to do that.

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I like to play my video games

During the summer I like to play my video games, watch TV, read, go to Ocean Breeze, go to Water Country USA and go camping.

And I forgot, I’m going to have a playdate with somebody and we’re going to bring all our Hot Wheels cars and I’m going to put some slime on the tracks for a trap.

Do you think your friend will have a trap?

Yes. He has a mousetrap. But my car is super-duper fast. It’s fast as a blink.

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I like being part of a team

I’m going to be in fourth grade. I’m excited about meeting new friends and being happy there because I like writing and reading.

Going to school makes you happy.

Yeah. It’s really fun because you get to do different things. You never know what’s coming at you.

And, I really like to play softball. I never thought of being catcher and then I started to like it. In the second season of fall ball I was all time catcher.

I’m going to do fall ball again. I like being part of a team. We just stick together and it’s like family where you have someone you can trust and you can feel special about something. Even when you’re different, you can still feel special.

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I’ve always been interested in astronomy

I’m planning to study astronautical engineering. I’ll probably go into the private space industry. Working for NASA is a goal of mine — as an astronaut would be nice — but at the same time, as a general scientist or engineer would be great, too.

What sparked that interest?

Stars. I’ve always been interested in astronomy. A couple of summers ago I went to the Governor’s School, the summer residential one. I went to the Math, Science and Tech one over at Lynchburg College in 2015 and I did the astronomy course there. Generally, I’ve just been interested in astronomy most of my life. I’ve kind of followed that. I’ve also been taking engineering courses. I took the AutoCAD course back in my freshman year and the next one. I had engineering and design experience at the ATC. I did three years of that and being capable in math kind of pushed me toward that whole area.

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My favorite subjects are reading and science

My favorite subjects are reading and science. I like reading because if you want to be an author one day, you can read books to find out how they do it. I like science because I like experiments and I like dealing with substances you can touch and feel. I am interested in being a scientist one day because you invent stuff that hasn’t been around. My mom says I am a great artist. I said that I’m going to sell art to get money so I can do science and also give probably half the money to my family.

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Making an impact

The thing that I love the most is teaching. So when it comes to what makes me happy, it’s this and making an impact with every student. You’re not just teaching a class, you’re teaching every student. They all have different needs. They all want different things but they all want love. They want to know that they are cared for. You have to differentiate that between the students. It’s one of my favorite things to do. It’s what makes me happy. Even with the tough things in life, when I come to work, it’s the best thing for me.

What do you like to do when you’re not teaching?

I’m always hanging out with my siblings. We’re really, really, really, really close. There are seven of us. The four boys sing together. We sing and come up with music and play. We just do it for fun. It’s something we like to do.

What about your sisters?

The sisters don’t sing. They try.

I’m ready to expand my horizons

I definitely will miss White Oaks but I am looking forward to going to middle school and starting fresh after the summer.

What will you miss about White Oaks?

I met a lot of different people here and they have different personalities which makes them even greater friends. I’ll miss the staff because I’ve made a lot of teacher friends. A lot of my friends are moving or going to different schools, so I’ll miss them. And I joined a lot of different clubs this year, so I’ll miss a lot of the teachers who helped me with those clubs.

I’m very, very familiar with this school, and now I’m ready to expand my horizons and learn more about another school.

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Treat people how you want to be treated

I think it’s important to treat people how you want to be treated and make sure everyone is included. I feel bad if someone is left out because I used to get left out and I didn’t like the feeling, so I want to make sure no one has to feel that way. I just want to make sure everyone feels accepted and welcome, at least coming from me. If others don’t accept them, I want to accept them. Even if there is something I don’t agree with, I still respect them and treat them the way they should be treated.

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I want to be a veterinarian

My favorite subject, I would say, is science. One, because I get better grades in it, and two, basically because it helps me think more.

When I grow up I want to be a veterinarian because I like animals. I like to draw them. I like to play with them. I’m not allergic to any of them, so that’s good because I can be around all types of animals. I have three dogs, and I’m about to get a fourth one, and two guinea pigs. One guinea pig’s name is Gizmo and the second one is Turbo. I call him Turbo because every time I try to grab him, he doesn’t want me to and he goes running everywhere.

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Take advantage of opportunities

I switched schools midyear. I was nervous. I didn’t know anyone. I was just scared. I didn’t know what to do or what to expect, but honestly, I really like this school and it has offered me a lot of opportunities. My freshmen year and my sophomore year, I regret not really joining anything. It’s not the school’s fault or anything, I just wasn’t interested. I was so closed in. I guess when I moved to Green Run, I just wanted a change. I wanted to do something good for myself. This mentor program really helped me. I started joining everything: soccer, Successful Stallions, SCA, everything! I have opportunities to go into the Navy now; I joined NJROTC for next year. I’m just looking forward to my junior year and senior year.

I like helping people. I know what it’s like to be afraid. I know what freshmen feel. You don’t know what to expect when you go into high school. You really don’t know. And if you get into the wrong crowd, it’s just not going to lead to good things. I’ve seen friends who are really smart and have so much potential and they end up throwing it away. They have these opportunities and teachers who are willing to help them and they just don’t want the help.

I want freshmen to take advantage of the opportunities they have. Especially coming from an immigrant home, my mom stresses school so much. She wants me to prioritize school and everything. At the end of the day, you have to do it for yourself but I also want to do it for my parents and be a role model for my siblings. I have two younger siblings and a nephew, and all my cousins are kind of younger, too. I want them to look up to me and say, “Yeah, my cousin did that. I want to be like my cousin.”

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Expanding my horizons

I’m a senior at the Global Studies and World Languages Academy at Tallwood. I was accepted into the Visual and Performing Arts Academy because I want to be an actress, but I really wanted something that was going to give me a new perspective on education and expand my horizons. That’s really what it did. It opened up the door to a lot of different things. We’re really encouraged to explore ourselves as well as the world. So when we look at the world, we have to be introspective while we’re trying to be empathetic and culturally relative.

I want to be a lot of things. I want to be an actress, a forensic psychologist, a black rights activist and, hopefully, a philanthropist but that kind of depends on wealth, I guess.

My mom and I watch a lot of crime shows. My mom is really into the forensics part because she is a nurse. I just want to know: Why? What makes people do the things they do? What drives them to that? I just like probing people’s minds. I want to know what could have led up to that because everything is related. That is another thing the academy really reinforces in me: to link things, to see the pattern, not to think things happen in isolation.

What about acting?

Being onstage is the most complex mix of emotions because it’s thrilling. I love being onstage. I love creating a whole person — then I’m terrified. I look out and I see faces, because you can see people out there. You just have to put that away and say that I’m not going out as me, I’m going out as this character. It’s a wonderful experience. I want to do film but I’ve done theater since I was 8.

Seeing that I want to go into forensic psychology and I want to be an actress, you’re probably wondering what made me want to volunteer at this STEM camp. I think every student should have an opportunity to explore new things. I think you never know who is going to walk out of this STEM camp and change the world. My elementary school really encouraged us to explore STEM as well and brought a lot of things to us. That’s why I really love education. I’ve had some really great instructors and I think this STEM camp makes STEM seem fun. They can see that there are so many facets to these different subjects. They are enjoying themselves and I think there are going to be a lot of students who walk away and link this to their life someday.

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It’s actually the best job I’ve ever had

I was shopping around for a job that really fit what was going on in my life and was having no success because the cost of day care. I had to offset that and make money on top of it. Somebody suggested this as an option: “Why don’t you try bus driving? You can take your kids with you.” I never thought of bus driving before. Never. To go from a professional atmosphere, I didn’t really know how that would work for me. I love it. I absolutely love it. I’ve been in management and you get the sense of being your own boss. Well, on a bus you sort of still are your own boss. Instead of managing a team of adults, you are managing a group of kids. It was actually an easier transition than I thought it would be. I like the fact that you get to help out a kid or brighten their day when maybe they were having a rough day. That’s rewarding. It’s instant gratification. Working in sales and management, you get your monthly reports and things like that. This is just rewarding every day. It’s actually the best job I’ve ever had.

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You can always do something to help

I’m planning on becoming a teacher when I grow up. My favorite subjects are math and reading. Back when I was in second grade, I was reading this sixth-grade book and I’m really good at reading. I’m interested in maybe becoming an author. I’m really good at math. It is, by far, my favorite subject. Just learning new things really makes me feel better. And, it’s been my goal to find a way to end bullying so life won’t be as difficult for other people. This is the lesson I’ve learned, well there’s two: Not everything can be solved and no matter how small or how big you are, you can always do something to help.

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I try to stay involved

I try to stay involved. I wasn’t involved my freshmen year and that is something I can recommend, especially when I’m talking to freshman, to get more involved because it will make school a lot better. Meeting new people. Getting yourself out there. Finding stuff to do, especially things you’re interested in. Getting out of the house. It looks good for college. The best piece for me was meeting new people and putting back more into my school.

How do you feel about being a senior this year?

I’m pretty nervous but everybody says that senior year is the best, so I’m thinking it’s going to be fun. It’s going to be a new door to open up to other things. College is definitely the next step for me.

I want to be a physical therapist. Thinking about having a job, sitting behind a desk is just…ugh. I’ve been doing it all these years. I can’t do it again. Truthfully, I can’t sit still for that long. It just drives me nuts. I want to help people. Being a physical therapist is an active job. Helping people, making them feel better and working with people to reach their goals, it’s satisfying to me to help people like that and that’s what led me in the direction of physical therapy.