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Highland Home, Alabama
Highland Home High School
The nomination of Carlissa Brown, a senior at Highland Home High School, was replete with commendations from her teachers. She was lauded for her academic achievements, selfless service and strong work ethic. One teacher described her as “a pillar of conviction and motivation.” Her grades reflect this commitment to scholarship; Carlissa will graduate with honors and be ranked third in her class.
It has not been an easy road to success for Carlissa, though. While still a preschooler, Carlissa’s mother was killed at the hands of her father in a tragedy of domestic violence. With her father’s incarceration, no family members existed to take care of the young child. A family friend, Ms. Beverlyn Wingard, stepped forward and asked permission to assume the care of Carlissa and to serve as her legal guardian. A new and single parent, Wingard provided an excellent home environment for Carlissa and played a pivotal role in setting the standards for Carlissa’s subsequent achievements.
Tragedy struck again in Carlissa’s sophomore year of high school. Her guardian and adopted mother was killed in an industrial accident. It seemed that Carlissa was on her own again. Her adopted grandmother, Ms. Ethelean Wingard, invited Carlissa into her home and became her new guardian. Nominator and teacher Rebecca Sims, wrote, “With sheer tenacity, Carlissa has heroically risen above her misery, bravely channeling her sadness into school, work, and the development of her good character.”
While maintaining excellent grades, Carlissa works 30 hours a week in a part-time job and operates her own nail design business out of her home. In addition to contributing to the household expenses, Carlissa earned the money to pay for her own vehicle and purchase her own wardrobe. (She is unanimously noted as having excellent taste in clothes and always being perfectly attired.) Her work supervisor, Shaquinta Robinson, says that Carlissa exhibits “a rare combination of speed and accuracy that enables her to produce a high volume of work while maintaining high standards of quality.”
A high achiever in the face of extreme adversity, Carlissa is respected by her teachers and classmates alike for her struggles and her accomplishments. Upon graduation, Carlissa is considering a career in nursing.