The new scholars: Three high-energy achievers bring a positive attitude and big goals to ABC!

Three new scholars have joined the A Better Chance of Andover program, from as far away as Orlando, Florida. Each one brings a very different story, background and journey to ABC, but they have one thing in common: an optimism and work ethic that has and will serve each of them well.

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All three say adjusting to living in a house is easy, even daily chores and messy roommates can’t dim the fun.

Jenni Michelle Nguyen, Orlando, Florida

The first question on many people’s minds, when they meet Jenni, is why did she come to Andover from Orlando and how is she going to survive the cold? Jenni is quick to explain that she lived most of her life in Michigan before moving to Florida a few years ago with her mom, brother and sister. There her mom owns a nail salon, as well as two salons back in Michigan. As for finding ABC, Jenni explains that a good friend of her mother’s had been an ABC scholar and recommended it for her own high-achieving daughter.

Freshman Jenni explained that her local high school did not offer a challenging academic experience, and had few extracurricular opportunities. At AHS she has jumped in, signing up to participate in the Debate, Newspaper, Gay Straight Alliance, and the Psychology clubs. “I wanted to do something after school every day but my advisor told me to start slowly,” said Jenni. She is eyeing the swim team as well, and hopes to be able to try out next year.

Jenni’s favorite subject is math, but this year she is excited about her freshman English course, taught by Mr. Pellerin. She says that she is interested in psychology and sociology, stating, “I’m interested in human behavior.”

Coming to Andover has been an easy adjustment, she says, and one of the biggest surprises has been how “nice and accommodating” ABC and its scholars have been.

Déanna Clarke-Campbell, Philadelphia, PA

“I was not being challenged at all,” explains Déanna, about why she chose to leave a creative and performing arts high school in downtown Philadelphia, which she remembers with great fondness. “I loved the school and the atmosphere. The downside was the academics.”

Déanna found out about A Better Chance from a friend and explains that she wanted to improve her chances for college. She was willing to leave a close-knit family in order to attend AHS.
As a sophomore at AHS, she has sought out the creative avenues she loves, joining the Show Choir. She loves to act and sing, and she plays the piano and violin.

As for academics, she gravitates to math, science and history. “I always wonder when people say, why study history?” I think: “Why are we here, doing what we do? To answer that you have to understand what came before.”

Déanna has big dreams for the future, rattling off a list of professions, from cardio-thoracic surgeon, astrophysicist or Broadway actor or some combination of those (she points to an actor on the show, The Big Bang Theory who is, in fact, a neuroscientist). Adjusting to the quiet, small town feel of Andover continues to be a challenge after living in a city. “People do the same thing every day,” she notes.

Elise Ray Cabrera, Harlem, New York

Freshman Elise’s three older sisters have set a bar of high academic achievement for her. The oldest attended Mt. Holyoke College and currently works at ABC national. The other two are currently attending competitive colleges.

In her small arts and music-focused school in Harlem, Elise was in the student government but she explains that the academics were putting her behind, particularly in math. “I wanted to have a new experience and wanted something different and to be exposed to different ways of teaching,” she explains. Elise likes English and science and is enjoying world civilization. She has joined the Show Choir, Gay Straight Alliance, and Robotics clubs. She played club basketball at her old school and hopes to play at AHS.

Elise has pondered future professions, which have included artist, musician (she plays piano and guitar) and Broadway actor. She also revealed that she has thought about being the president of the United States. “It’s a lot of work to make things right. Everyone has a view of what makes a good president. I’d like to see if I could do a good job in the opinion of all sides.”