Al Lucas Memorial Scholarship Recipient
“I’ve been cheering for seven years. And, as a young child, I was always very active and loud and kinda all over the place. So I never found that medium for me to transcend that in a positive way until I got to sixth grade, and I started cheering. My middle school cheer coach means the world to me…she told me: ‘The best way to be a leader is to serve those that you lead first.’
So, cheerleading became my way of serving. It became my way of serving my cheer sisters and my school and then, later, my community.
“I’ve been the varsity cheerleading captain at Howard for two years. And, it’s been amazing. I was very honored to be The Al Lucas Scholar, not only because I think girls aren’t recognized enough for their sports anyway, but also because I’m a cheerleader. It’s a bit of an unconventional sport. You know, some people even say that cheerleading is not a sport. So, to know that organizations like the Community Foundation and the Al Lucas Family believe that we should be represented and supported just as much as any other athlete, it meant the world to me.”
I was very happy that my work here can help those in the future…other cheerleaders who feel like, you know, they may not be the conventional athlete. I think that’s an important message that me receiving the scholarship shows to everyone.
More so in recent news, I think millennials are getting a charge to continue the good fight of our ancestors, whether it be through social media or protest….
The good fight to me is just getting my education. I think that education is something that nobody can ever take away from you. I always cherish my education because, again, I’m a girl. Girls need education just as much as anyone else. We’re underrepresented in most career fields.
I want to be a lawyer. I am showing to people that through your education you can do anything. I believe that wholeheartedly. So, Thurgood Marshall…he fought that good fight for the underrepresented. Through my fight with education, I hope to continue to represent those who are underrepresented.
Some people aren’t given the platform that they need. So, I want to use my education and my tools through my law degree to represent those people for the rest of my life.
I’m pretty dominant, pretty aggressive. So, when I want something, I go get it. But, this year, I ran for senior class president. So, unfortunately, I lost…
I’ve been planning for it forever. Honestly, I’ve had my life planned out since I was, like, eight. It’s pretty, it’s pretty funny.
When I lost that election, I thought, ‘Everything I’ve done, it means nothing.’ I realized that it’s not so much the prize, but the work.
So, through entitlement and instant gratification, especially millennials now, we feel like we have to be rewarded for everything we do. There’s no lag time. We grow this sense of entitlement and instant gratification.
So, for me, losing that election, I was like, ‘What do I get?’ And, sometimes you don’t get anything. Or, what you get is from the inside.
This year has taught me that just because you don’t get a reward or you don’t get the recognition that you believe you deserve, it doesn’t mean that your work is any less important than anyone else. Because, unfortunately, there are so many people who do such incredible things that no one even notices. They do all the behind-the-scenes work.
And it’s not necessary. If that’s what you’re doing it for, you should be doing it at all.
I’m happy it happened. I’m very thankful. I got a darn good essay out of it. Got accepted to college. I think I needed that adversity.
Instead, I devoted myself more to cheer. We’re in a bit of transition. We’re just tryin’ to find, like, a good, steady coach. So, I think that me being that consistent part…I needed to work harder.
I would be like every single day, ‘Girls, we need to fight.’
I think that by losing that election, it helped me give a little more to my team.
I’ve been very passionate about politics. I did some voter registration drives. I remember in fifth grade, when Barack Obama got inaugurated, I was looking and was like, ‘Oh my gosh. He looks like me.’ That lit a spark in me, for sure.
I wasn’t able to vote this year because I have a late birthday. So, I was like, ‘What can I do?’ So, I decided, ‘I’m going to have voter registration drives.’ I had two here at school and two at some local churches. So, I was educating my peers, and everyone voted. That was my way of giving back…I was like, ‘I’m going to make sure that everyone else can.’
That was another way of me letting those people’s voice be heard. It’s so important to vote. We’re so fortunate that we have that ability. I mean, so many people fought for that right.
My parents…I was the first born. I think my dad may have thought I was a boy, just the way he taught me. He was always very tough on me. Both of my parents told me that there is never anything I can’t do.
One day in seventh grade, my mom, she pulled me aside and said, ‘Janel, never let anyone dull your shine.’
It’s my parents who have worked so hard for me to be where I am. They have done so much. Howard is an incredible school. I am so fortunate to go here.
We need examples. So that’s what I’m trying to do for my little siblings, is be that example that they need. That’s what’s most important for me. I want to be the best person I can be so they can be better than me.
I’m looking forward to the freedom in education. I’m so excited to explore. I’m not that much of an outdoorsy person; I would rather explore a book. I’m interested in the accessibility at USC. It’s the number one school for international business. So, I’m pursuing to get into that career path. I have to apply competitively after freshman year or I apply to this cohort program. I want to do corporate law…being able to encourage businesses to expand their horizons beyond just the Silicon Valley…bring some of those jobs back.
Hopefully, with my MIBA and my JD, I’ll be more of a counsel to business leaders to spread the wealth. I think that’s my calling.
My dad is the currently the Macon-Bibb Parks & Rec. Director. Seeing him go up in the ranks… has been so inspiring. And seeing how much he gives back to Macon every day…it’s everything to me. This is my home. Just seeing how devoted he is to these people, it lights a spark in me. My mom, she’s a teacher, so she gives back to people every day. Seeing how much they do for Macon every single day,…it makes it necessary for me to pay it forward. I see all their good doings every day.
Be who you are, because it’s the only person that you can be. Don’t be afraid.
Al Lucas, no matter what, he showed up. That’s what I want to do. I want to show up.
My last meal would be my dad’s steak. Just some steak and mashed potatoes and just being around my family.”
Story written by Susannah Maddux. Photo by Maryann Bates.