scholar smiling

We are proud to celebrate Black History all year long. This month, we are EVEN more excited to celebrate our scholars, what they love about themselves and who inspires them. We sat down with Shania, an 11th-grader at AF East Brooklyn High, to learn more!

Thanks for talking with us! Let’s start with an introduction—what should readers know about you?
My name is Shania, and I’m in 11th grade. I’m a very motivated person when it comes to school, and when I put my mind to something, I really go for it. I wear my emotions on my sleeves, but I always have a reason for why I’m feeling what I’m feeling. I’m on our varsity cheerleading team, and I’m trying out to be co-captain. My favorite class is AP U.S. history because I live here, and I want to know more about where I live. I also love AP English language because of the writing format—you have to make an argument and support your position. When it comes to math and STEM, I love and enjoy them, but they’re not subjects that are easy for me. I have to take my time, and go to office hours to maintain my grades. They’re hard, and I love those subjects because they’re challenging. The fact that I have a challenge makes me enjoy it more, because then when I do get it, I feel like I accomplished something so big.

What’s something you love about yourself?
I’m very observant and good at reading people. I’m very empathetic, and it helps me have better relationships because people know I don’t just care about myself, I care about others. Also, in class I raise my hand all the time, but I wasn’t always that way. In middle and elementary school, I was more of a shy kid and didn’t want to participate. I thought if I was seen as the one who was smart, I could be picked on. When I got into high school, I noticed I wasn’t advocating enough for myself. I realized this is where it counts for going to college, and that I can’t put myself down to make others feel good about themselves. Before ninth or 10th grade, I wouldn’t have been able to do things like this interview. It took time to grow out of that mindset where I was putting myself down.

Sounds like you have a lot to be proud of! Can you tell us about a role model from your life or Black history who inspires you and why?
I feel inspired by Katherine Johnson. I saw the movie “Hidden Figures,” and then I took the time to research her. She inspires me because she didn’t allow boundaries to stop her from doing what she loved. I look up to her because of the fact that she was put down so many times and told she wasn’t good enough, but she proved herself through the caliber of her work. And the fact that she was a black woman really means a lot to me. She was passionate and showed that you should always go for it, no matter who tries to stop you.

Why do you think it’s important to celebrate black history and people like Katherine Johnson?
I think it’s important because a lot of black figures from history, like Katherine Johnson, get overlooked. But without her and her calculations, getting to the moon wouldn’t have been possible. If it wasn’t for people in the civil rights era fighting for us, we wouldn’t have the progress we have today. Black history month is important because people are acknowledging what we’ve contributed and put into the world.

Since you’re a junior, have you started thinking about what you might be interested in for college?
There’s a lot of colleges that I have in mind, but I haven’t made the list. I’m considering HBCUs mostly, and I do know that I want to study something like economics and maybe minor in marketing.

Thank you for sharing, Shania!

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