Anjelica Pendergrass. Remember that name, because we're sure to be hearing more from her in the future! For now, she is making her mark locally at West Charlotte High School, where she is enrolled in CIS and is a junior in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. But with what she's already accomplished at the age of 17, we believe she's just getting started!
"Anjelica is definitely one to watch," says Erica Draine, Anjelica's CIS Site Coordinator at West Charlotte. "She's had some difficult times. But when you meet Anjelica, you would never know the heartache and trauma she has experienced in her young life. What you see is a strong young woman, a 'go-getter,' with a positive attitude that shines through everything she does."
This past summer, Anjelica was one of just 50 teen girls from around the world selected to attend the "Black Girls Rock" conference in New York City. She met other teens from as far away as Tokyo, Jamaica, and South Africa during the two-week conference, which is a highly selective intensive leadership program for teen-age girls of color. Then in November, Anjelica was one of just four high school students in Charlotte selected by the YMCA's "Y Readers" program to travel to Senegal, West Africa over Thanksgiving to teach reading and literacy skills to children in a YMCA branch there.
At West Charlotte, in addition to being very active in CIS, Anjelica plays on the school's varsity volleyball team, is a member of the Beta Club and Order of the Lion, has been selected as a Junior Marshall for graduation, and recently was inducted into the National Honor Society. She's interested in college and wants to study nursing or social work, possibly working with autistic children and those with learning disabilities.
Anjelica was in CIS at Ranson Middle School, where CIS Site Coordinator Joy Reid remembers Anjelica as "an incredible student, very active in CIS," and who was selected as the "CIS Student of the Month" as an 8th grader at Ranson.
Added Ms. Draine, "I knew from Ms. Reid and Anjelica's transcripts that she was a good student. But when she came to West Charlotte, I felt she would especially benefit from programs that would develop her confidence and leadership potential. CIS partners with the YMCA and encourages students to participate in their programs. I recommended to Anjelica that she get involved with the Y Achievers and she jumped in with both feet!"
Ms. Draine explained that Anjelica learned about the "Black Girls Rock" conference throughY Achievers, and the trip to Senegal came about through the YMCA's Y Readers program. The application process for both of these was quite competitive, but Ms. Draine pushed her to "go for it," and felt she had an excellent chance of success.
Anjelica says she is very grateful for the support she's received from CIS, and the many opportunities that have come her way as an extension of her CIS involvement.
"Without CIS, I would never have dreamed of doing or becoming the person I am today," says Anjelica. "From the beginning - since the 6th grade - Ms. Reid and Ms. Draine and the CIS team have been there for me. There are no words or actions that can express the appreciation I have for them. They have impacted me in so many ways and they shall be a part of everything I do or say in my lifetime!"