When Andreanna Wright says she’s going to be an OB/GYN, there is every reason to believe her. Andreanna is a senior at La Follette High School where she maintains a 3.78 GPA. Her motivation? “It makes me happy to do well and I like to prove people wrong,” she says. Plus her uncle is an OB/GYN who let her shadow him as early as the age 14.
Doing well has paid off. Andreanna’s been accepted into her top college choice, Jackson State University, an Historically Black College and University. Currently she’s looking into the school’s honors college, since she plans to graduate with honors.
That’s the way she rolls. She knows what she wants and why, and goes after it.
“Historically Black Colleges and Universities give Black kids confidence so being the only Black kid can’t be an excuse anymore,” says Andreanna. “So they give you a very different cultural perspective on what it’s really like to be Black. The beautiful thing about it is that there isn’t just one type of black person there, there are tech geeks and sports fans and book nerds, all types of different people and all Black.”
Recognizing cues to success started early. When Andreanna’s Sennett Middle School teacher, Hallie Savage, pushed her to work through Spanish grammar challenges, she paid attention. Spanish is now a regular part of Andreanna’s daily culture.
“Ms. Savage taught me not to give up on it, and because of it, I kept pursuing Spanish and plan to have a double major in Pre-med and Spanish,” says Andreanna. “I use it all of the time, especially at TJ Maxx (where she works). Just by saying “Hola, cómo estás,” I can put a smile on someone’s face just by saying something that’s in their language.”
Mastering language has long been an ambition of Andreanna’s, fueled by watching her mother, a Sun Prairie alternative school counselor, write an unpublished novel. Then at 12, Andreanna joined the Simpson Street Press, a newspaper that grooms students to research, write and publish articles. Its director, Jim Kramer, uttered words of wisdom that stayed with her.
“He would always say that for every A you get in high school it’s a $1000 in the bank account," says Andreanna. “Now I see the more you achieve the less work you have to do to put yourself out there.”
Andreanna is now Editor-in-Chief of the La Follette High School newspaper The Lance. She started as an intern from Sennett, and soon after Lance teacher, Donna Kennedy, saw something exceptional.
“She was very shy, polite, soft-spoken but smart, driven and had opinions,” says Ms. Kennedy. “She knew exactly what she wanted to write about and put more effort into her work than most high-schoolers.”
It didn’t take long before Ms. Kennedy saw Andreanna open up, and the two shared great conversations. “I recall her looking at the editor’s desk and hearing her say, ‘That's where I want to sit some day.' ”
Andreanna’s other extracurricular pursuits are impressive. Among her most current include being a member of Black Student Union, Swim Team and Madison Children’s Choir. And she has a singing role in the upcoming La Follette spring musical “Suessical.”
She also just completed a UW-Madison advanced Spanish course for which she navigated classes on both campuses—La Follette and UW-Madison—twice weekly, and earned an AB. Still, she has no plans to attend UW-Madison if accepted.
“I’ve lived here my entire life, and always felt I didn’t belong,” she says. “My calling isn’t to stay here,” says Andreanna. “I’m tired of being the only black person everywhere, in my classes, in the community, doing community-oriented things, and I think going to an HBCU will just prepare me to come back to the community with a greater confidence and knowing of myself.”
- Pat Dillon