A Port Richmond girl named Brina Way will soon be off to Washington, D.C.
The 13-year-old Way was selected to participate in an educational experience in the nation’s capital designed to encourage the next generation of our nation’s leaders.
And a leader she is. Way, a straight-A student in eighth grade at South Philadelphia’s Philadelphia Performing Arts String Theory Charter School, is also the spokesperson for a Future Leaders of America Group (FLAG), where she represents middle school students.
Her goal as a FLAG leader, she said, is to help kids her age to be aware, support and fight for “things that matter,” like how to deal with the pressures of being a teen, and peer pressure in school.
She said she’d like to take her experiences from her trip to Washington and use them in the FLAG program.
The Washingon, D.C. program is called called “Voices of Leadership: Reflecting on the Past to Create the Future,” and is run by the Junior National Young Leaders Conference. Way was nominated by her reading teacher, Jennifer Baiole.
Participants are nominated by teachers based on their academic achievement and leadership potential, in addition to referrals from program alumni and classroom surveys.
As part of the six-day program, Way will take part in educational activities, workshops and tours of important sites in our nation’s history, such as Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, in West Virginia and D.C.’s museums and memorials.
Way will also study the impact of leadership throughout critical periods of American history including the Civil War and Reconstruction, World War II, the Great Depression and the civil rights movement.
The JrNYLC program is designed so graduates gain a greater sense of the role of individuals can play in American democracy, as well as the responsibilities of being a leader.
The program is designed not only to introduce young people to how leadership played a major role in American history, but to help them develop their own leadership skills — character, communication, goal setting, problem solving, respect and team work.
“The aim of the Junior National Young Leaders Conference is to inspire students to recognize their own leadership skills, measure their skills against those of current and former leaders and return home with new confidence in their ability to exercise positive influence within their communities,” said Marguerite Regan, dean of academic affairs for the Congressional Youth Leadership Council, the organization that sponsors JrNYLC.
Because of her solid academics and her many activities, Way was nominated to represent her school. She’s one of the 250 middle school students selected by the JrNYLC council.
Her mother, Christina Wasco, said she spends a lot of time driving Way to her activities.
Way plays on her school’s bowling and softball teams, and is also point guard and center on her school’s basketball team. She also plays for Somerton Sports AA, and is part of an after-school theater program in South Philly.
“I know it sounds like I don’t have any free time, but I do,” she said. She added that she likes to draw and enjoys reading science fiction, drama and romance novels.
When it comes to the future, Way has many aspirations.
“I’d like to be an actor, but so many people want to do that,” she said. “I also like to write. When I do school assignments, I try to exaggerate…to make the story interesting.”
She’d also consider being a psychologist. “I like how other people see the world,” she said.
CYLC is a nonpartisan, educational organization that has worked with over 200,000 young people since 1985. For additional information, visit cylc.org.
Reporter Susan Madrak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.