Growth and goals are part of her future
By Debbie Hall
At 14, Shawndreka has experienced more than her share of adversity. However, none of that is reflected in her attitude or outlook on life. Shawndreka’s greatest asset is, “I love myself. I don’t let anyone change my opinion. I like to experience things for myself.”
Part of her growth is her participation in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Nevada program and her own Big Sister, Joan Fuller. Over the past year, Shawndreka has developed a true friendship with Fuller and credits Fuller with being a calming force in her life and someone whom she can talk to without feeling judged. “Joan encourages me to keep moving forward,” Shawndreka said.
Before Shawndreka became part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, she was angry all the time, which led to fights at school. But since being paired with Fuller as a Big Sister, Shawndreka has blossomed. “My Big Sister is easy to talk to and Joan has been an inspiration to my life. She always gives me good advice, and she is very personable,” Shawndreka said.
According to Fuller, Shawndreka has come a long way. “Over the past year, we’ve dealt with a few challenging issues together. I’ve opened up to Shawndreka about my childhood and the lessons I’ve learned. With time, she has become more comfortable with me and at this point, I believe she knows how much I care about her. Shawndreka has shown me a more confident and outgoing side of her personality. She is driven by her goal of going to college, and actively pursues extracurricular activities like cheerleading, choir and performing in plays,” Fuller said.
Shawndreka is working to reach her goal of being the first person in her family to go to college. Born in New Orleans, Shawndreka wants to return to her home state to attend Louisiana State University. Inspired by the television show, “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit,” Shawndreka enjoys looking at both sides of an issue and said, “Maybe I will become a lawyer.” Shawndreka currently attends Silverado High School and, in addition to her core classes, she is currently taking Japanese, dance, algebra 2, and early childhood education. “My grades are always good and I always keep going,” she said.
In fact, after her Big Sister introduced her to sushi, Shawndreka decided to learn the language. “It’s a major challenge and I want to make Japan my first international vacation,” she said.
“Shawndreka chose her courses in her first year of high school. I am so impressed that she is studying Japanese,” said Fuller, “I taught her the six Japanese words that I know and she is teaching me as she’s learning. Our goal is to someday have a simple conversation in Japanese together.”
For fun, Shawndreka loves to dance and recently tried Polynesian dancing. Shawndreka likes Beyoncé because she is fearless and doesn’t allow anyone to stop her and also admires Debbie Allen.
Shawndreka’s advice for other youth facing challenges is, “Keep your head up and do what’s right for you. Stick to your gut because only you can be you.” In fact, Shawndreka has started to pay it forward by mentoring her friends.
Shawndreka is a sister to five siblings and is active in the Zion Cathedral Church. She continues to stay focused on her goals, has overcome a great deal and has done it with a smile. Shawndreka believes that being a Future Fearless Female means following your dreams. “You will do whatever you can in your power to make things happen for you, like I do. It means not letting anyone break me down,”she said.
This makes her a Future Fearless Female, wherever life takes her.