What a difference a year makes

BY DEXTER MCCREE, Feature Writer

ST. PETERSBURG – What a difference a year will make for Damaris Brown.  She is a very charming young lady with a high level of intelligence, a knack for fun, excitement and adventure and has parents who focus on purpose and results.

In the Brown’s home, student achievement is a priority. As a result, Damaris is a 2018 graduate of Northeast High School, a feat she accomplished a year early. As an early graduate, she leaves school having earned 33 high school credits and three college credits.

“Being an average teenager was never my intention. Since I was little, my mother told me to strive to be greater than most while remaining humble,” said Damaris.

Her mother’s words have stuck with her to this day and helps keep her focus. Being 16 and graduating from high school is something she never thought she would accomplish.

The daughter of Larissa Jones and Michael Brown, Damaris attended fundamental school until high school rolled around. In middle school, she began to learn the value of excellence.

As a student at Thurgood Marshall Middle School, she enrolled into the Gifted Studies program, which allowed her to take advanced classes and obtain high school credits. During her eighth- grade year, she was able to take all of her ninth-grade core classes.

Damaris Brown, graduationBrown obtained five high school credits by the end of her eighth-grade year. By the beginning of high school, she gained two more credits, starting the school year off with seven credits.

“This began the journey to become the more than average teenager,” she commented.

 At the end of her freshman year, Damaris was given the opportunity to volunteer at the orthodontic office of Dr. Michael W. Rowe. Within the course of a summer, she obtained more than 100 volunteer hours as well as a job opportunity.

“I started working two days a month at the orthodontist, which wasn’t much but it was a paycheck. Within a few months, I was able to start working every Thursday. Now, I work two out of the three days that we are open in the office.”

Throughout her work journey, Damaris learned the value of service and involvement. She also developed a keen interest in orthodontistry.  She has even earned the state certification to be an orthodontic assistant.

Remember, she’s just 16 years old.

High school didn’t come without its challenges. One of the main obstacles Damaris faced was using her time wisely. With having a job, taking online classes, soccer, cheerleading and an intense academic schedule, Damaris had a hard time finding the right balance.

Add to her schedule the National Achievers Society, College Prep 101, Pep Club and Girlfriends, one can see that she didn’t have much room for error. She confessed that it took a while to understand that a schedule and using an agenda would make life easier.

Now that Damaris has graduated, she plans to attend St. Petersburg College, followed by the University of Florida or the University of West Florida to study biomedical pre-med. After acquiring a bachelor’s degree, she foresees going to the United States Air Force and working in biomedical biology.

Her ultimate goal, however, is to complete a doctorate in dentistry and become an orthodontist.

So at 16 years old, what were you doing?

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