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Meet Heather

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CIS Graduate
Phillip O. Berry Academy

Heather Cauthen with her mentor(Re)new your perspective. (Re)claim your path. (Re)ward your generation.

These words not only comprised the theme of the Fourth Annual R.I.S.E Leadership Summit, they are words by which recent Safe Journey graduate , Heather Cauthen, chooses to live her life. As a student at Phillip O Berry, Heather successfully juggled motherhood, academic success, and curricular activities including Committed Youth Involvement, Student Council, and the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA). In light of these accomplishments, it’s no surprise she was awarded the RISE leadership award last May. With the audible giggles of her child in the background, Heather fielded our questions with soft-spoken confidence: “To me a leader is someone who knows how to set a positive example for others, but also someone who knows when to follow.”

Heather joined Communities In Schools’ Safe Journey program following the birth of her daughter two years ago. While the adolescent parenting program’s case management approach, counseling services, educational resources, and effective parenting skills helped Heather “become a better mother to my child,” she credits the R.I.S.E leadership program with “empowering the mothers themselves.” Together, both CIS programs helped shape her into “a better and more complete person.”

RISE stands for reaching individual success through collective efforts, and thanks to peer-to-peer motivation and positive adult guidance, Heather now has a clearer vision for her life after high school. Heather admits that when it came to post-secondary education she was at first “indecisive.” Though Gardner-Webb University was her first choice, she found the private school’s expenses “discouraging” and was even considering the military. She changed her mind, however, after following the advice from her own R.I.S.E personal statement: “I will renew my perspective by expanding my mind to new opportunities and surrounding myself with individuals who will challenge my mind, while developing MYSELF into a successful woman.” In particular, the perspectives of her mentor, CIS case manager Shawanda Coble, and the Safe Journey/ APP program director, Judy Sanders-Bull, helped Heather realize that cost should not “deter her from where she wants to go.” Thanks to their encouragement, her own hard work, and the help of her $1000 R.I.S.E leadership scholarship, Heather will find herself nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains next fall, as a freshman at Gardner-Webb. Congratulations, Heather!

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