School: Senior at Albertus Magnus High School
As a senior at Albertus Magnus High School Shawnette has found her true self in cheerleading, academics and has big plans for her future.
Sophomore year she tried out for the cheer team and made the JV squad for football and made varsity cheer for basketball that same year. Soon after she was asked to join the Lady Falcon competition squad.
"I tried out as a nervous sophomore with no choreography or dance experience, but I did truly work hard to get where I am now as one of the captains of the fall, winter, and competition cheer squads. I was not able to pick up the dances and cheers taught right away because I was so new to this sport and just tried it for the experience. But this has truly shaped my high school career." said Shawnette Afriyie.
Not having any previous experience in cheer, Shawnette had to work extra hard to catch up to the rest of her team. She enjoyed cheering at the football and basketball games. However, the cheer competitions were the most challenging and time consuming.
"Competition shows how much work cheerleaders do to get through a two and a half minute high energy routine. We have to practice many hours during the week. Therefore one has to be committed to this sport. We normally practice a little over 10 hours a week depending on how much work needs to be done to perfect the routine. A lot of time and energy goes into cheerleading. We give up our weekends especially to practice for upcoming competitions because we are a hardworking team."
Most of the cheer competitions take place in Westchester, however they did get to travel to other areas in New York to compete. The dedication and hard work of the team paid off in 2010.
"In 2010 we won the national championship at the Niagara Falls cheer invitational in Buffalo, NY. Cheerleading has helped to learn about time management and has also helped to do well in school because of how hard I strive to excel at this sport, I apply the same will power to my school work."
This is definitely visible in Shawnette's academic achievements. Throughout high school she has been on the honor roll and is in the National Honor Society. Last year she took AP English Language & Composition and this year is taking AP English Literature. She was selected to attend a New York Leadership Forum (NYLF) and chose to attend the NYLF focused on Medicine.
"We went to Drexel University and saw a live gallstone removal surgery being performed, examined cadavers which I had not done before and we practiced suturing, which I will need to be able to do in the near future. We participated in many activities that showed us the ins and outs of the medical world. We resided at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. Going to this forum and Drexel University helped me to be open to such experiences that many do not get the opportunity to."
Shawnette plans on attending college next fall and pursuing her dream of become a physician.
"I had already decided that I wanted to become a physician and study medicine in college, but going to the NYLF on medicine definitely affirmed my decision to pursue this as my career choice."
She plans on majoring in biology with a concentration in pre-medicine for her undergraduate degree followed by medical school. She has applied to a wide array of schools, but is considering attending either SUNY Albany, SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Stonybrook, California University of Pennsylvania or Penn State University. A very exciting time for Shawnette.
When Shawnette is not at cheer practice or studying she is participating in some of the clubs at Albertus. She is a member of the pro-life club, campus ministry club, arthritis walk foundation, she is a youth for hospice participant, and a peer tutor. She has participated in the Midnight Run program a unique program sposored by the students, parents and faculty at Albertus.
The Midnight Run is a program organized by the Campus Ministry, Sr. Nancy Richter, where about 20 students are taken to New York City to distribute food, clothing and other items to the homeless. The 'run' does actually take place at midnight when the students are driven to different locations by parents and also the school Principal, Joseph Troy. The students show up at Albertus at about 8pm to prepare the food, drinks and items to be handed out. Donations are from people who volunteer for this program and those who don't actually do the run but like to contribute.
"It is truly a life changing experience. I learned to appreciate the life that my parents have strived to make for me and my family. I love the idea of reaching out to those outside of our community because we have the ability to do so. Every year that I have participated in this community service act, I feel as if I have made changes to those people's lives," said Afriyie. "We may be the only people that even care to talk to them and hold conversations with them, especially during long, cold winter nights. This year we came back to school around 1:30 a.m. because we took the time not to just hand out food, but to actually get to know those we were helping. I would recommend everyone to take part in this."
Shawnette and Albertus Magnus High School have been a perfect fit for the past four years.
"I am A.M., is our school saying, and I could not have made a better choice to come to this high school."
Shawnette, you are an asset to your school and the community. Continue doing what you are doing and keep following your dreams as you soar into the future!