The North Star

Omaha North’s Black female leaders of tomorrow

Joseline Albeno, Features Editor

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Rianna Gunter, 12

Rianna Gunter, senior, is one of the few female African American scholars at Omaha North, taking classes like, Honors Anatomy, AP Literature, AP Statistics, AP Government, Honors Career Academy Cap Stone, Honors Pottery, Sociology, and Honors Engineering Design and Development.

“In my classes not everyone looks like me. . . I have that in the back of my mind like a realization. . . I don’t know, it kind of proves I’m smart, too,” says Gunter.

She is also involved with after school activities like, tennis, National Honors Society, club volleyball, and school volleyball.

Like most teenagers, Gunter experiences procrastination, but has techniques to keep herself as stress-free and active as possible.

“I write all of my assignments down on a notebook and the ones that are due next I write that in red, that way I put that as my priority. Then, I just go from there,” said Gunter

Gunter’s parents experienced health issues her junior year which caused her grades to fall. She had to work harder to get back on track and finish out the school year.

“Last year was a little bit of a struggle I would say. I had health issues with my parents that kind of curved my focus from school. I had to get back on track to be able to finish out the year because junior year is important,” said Gunter.

After high school she would like to go to college and become an architect.

“[I want to be an architect] mostly because of the engineering class that I’m taking. . . we did an architecture class and I really liked it, so it helped narrow down what field I want to go to,” said Gunter.

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Christina Short, 11

“I have to prove them wrong, I have to go above and beyond. . . I have an extracurricular and I volunteer, and I go to church, I feel like I have to load up on all these extra things to feel as worthy as someone else.”

Christina Short was raised in an all African American women household where she learned everything from walking to understanding her self-worth.

Growing up, Short didn’t know who her father was which meant she didn’t know who half of herself was. She knew her father was Caucasian but didn’t know how she fit into that group. She is taking a class that goes in depth about Black history, which has taught her much about her African American background.

“I come from a divorced family and I don’t really know my dad so I kind of just kept going with my life, like nothing was up. . . I think not living with my dad was actually okay. . . I don’t know, it kind of raised me in a way that he couldn’t. It was also kind of nice living in an all-female household, showed me how to be confident in myself,” said Short.

Coming from a divorced family, Short still managed to impress teachers and people around her. She became involved in her school work and exceeded in many classes.

Being the only African American female in her advanced classes in middle school made felt like she didn’t have anyone she could relate to and that stuck with her. People would make remarks like, “you don’t act like a Black girl,” and, “You’re smarter than a Black girl.”

“Even now I still don’t have a lot of classes with a lot of other Black women, there’s like one other person I could name. But especially in middle school, I was not surrounded by anyone with the same skin color as me or anyone I could relate to, and that really bothered me that there wasn’t anyone else like me in those classes. . .The whole stereotype is that Black people aren’t as smart as other people and that really bothers me. That’s why I’m in three AP classes and I do so much because I really want to change the stereotype,” said Short.

Short is a junior at Omaha North High taking classes like, AP Language Arts, AP World History, AP Calculus, Honors Anatomy and Physiology, Honors Swing Choir, and Honors Concert Choir. She is also in clubs like College Possible, Upward Bound, and Partnership for Kids (P4K). She also plays tennis for the school and spends a lot of her time participating in her church and volunteers regularly.

She wants to go into performing arts after high school, major in musical theater, or even major in biology or math.

“I love singing and dancing and that’s really what I want to do,” says Short.

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Ayriel, 10

For Ayriel Brown-Love, April 16, 2012 was the day her life would never be the same.

Brown-Love was ten years old, sitting in front of the television, three days before everything would change. She was playing on her Wii until she decided to go downstairs.

She walked down the stairs and there lie her mother, begging for water. She was burning up from the fever she had contracted.

“Are you okay? What’s wrong?! What’s going on?!” asked Brown-Love.

She ran to the kitchen and filled cups with water and ice for her mother to drink. She looked for a phone to dial 911, but what she found was a phone her mother had destroyed by taking the battery out due to hallucination.

Brown-Love ran next door begging for a phone, but got no response, she ran to the next two houses and the same thing occurred. Nobody had a phone for her to use. Until she ran into a man who let her use his phone. The man, Calvin, followed her home and stayed with her until the ambulance arrived.

Her mother, Shauntoy Brown passed away in the ambulance, but to everyone’s surprise the paramedics revived her. Brown-Love’s mother was in the hospital for three days until she passed away.

Brown Love’s mother had caught walking pneumonia. Walking pneumonia is an infection that attacks the lungs and can cause a person to feel like they have a cold. No one had a clue her mother was ill because there were no symptoms of her being sick.

Losing her mother was like losing both parents because Brown-Love’s father was not in her life and still isn’t in her life. Brown-Love couldn’t count of her father to take custody, so she moved in with her aunt, Sonja Brown.

“I was upset and confused that all the other children would have their moms and grow up with them, but mine was taken by God or whoever is up there,” says Brown.

This situation made Brown-Love stronger and it also motivated her to get her education.

“I don’t like measly excuses, mostly they come from laziness or forgetfulness. Someone might have things worse off than you, so value what you have. I feel like God or whatever put that mountain in my life for a reason. . . it didn’t stop me from doing anything,” says Brown-Love.

Brown-Love now takes courses like Honors Algebra 3.4, Honors English, Honors Human Geography, Honors Chemistry, and many more. Brown-Love is also part of the yearbook staff and does sports all year round.

Brown-Love wants to become a meteorologist –a weather forecaster– after high school.

“Ever since I was younger I wondered, ‘Why did rain form?’ My curiosity grew deeper, causing me to have an interest with the weather,” said Brown-Love

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Jimeace Riley, 9

For many freshmen, high school can be overwhelming, causing grades to drop and even causing students to fail classes.

Jimeace Riley, freshman at North, takes classes like Honors Geometry, Honors Physical Science, Honors US History, PE Leadership, and so on. She also participates in track, volleyball, Black Leadership Council, and NCPA.

“[It’s a struggle] keeping grades up. . . with practice and with everything else, just getting into the swing of things,” says Riley.

Riley didn’t have a father figure in her life like she would have wanted. Because of this, Riley was motivated to focus on her education and prove to people she was capable of being successful.

“[My mom] tries to get us things that we want and just tries to support us being a single mother. . . It would make me feel sad sometimes, because I would see my brother go with his dad and like do stuff with his family on his dad’s side and then I’m just stuck with my mom,” says Riley.

Like many women, Riley was told at a young age to reconsider her career goal of being a nurse because not many African American women are in that field.

“In elementary they said, ‘Oh you can’t do this you can’t do that. You will never do this because there’s not many women in that kind of field,’ and things like that. . . My second-grade teacher, she was asking us our careers and I told her I wanted to be a nurse. . .  She told me that it’s very rare for you to find people in that career, like of different race,” said Riley

Riley wants to pursue her nursing goal after high school and prove to the people in her elementary class that she was capable of becoming a nurse.

“Most people don’t believe that Black women can be as capable as a Black man or as a Caucasian woman, so you gotta prove them wrong and just keep trying and just not give up,” said Riley.

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Omaha North’s Black female leaders of tomorrow