Denisea is the kind of person who brings life and energy to a room. She wants you to feel welcome when she is around.And she almost never stops smiling.But she wasn't always like this. Denisea will be the first to tell you that a few years ago, she was a loner. She was quiet. She didn't talk to people. Didn't even want their company. But now?
"Now?...Huh! I'm nothing like that. I talk to everybody!" she says.
Denisea credits her incredible transformation to two years in the SHIELD Mentor Program. She has learned how to speak in public, how to set and achieve goals, and even how to manage her money.
At just 14, Denisea has a plan for her future. She wants to become an interior designer or a photographer. At SHIELD, she's learning about how to make her dream job a reality. Getting accepted into GTCC's Middle College was the first step in reaching her goal. Denisea knew this school would be the right fit for her. The smaller class sizesmeant there would be less distractions and she would get the attention she needed. But getting in wasn't easy. Her mentors at SHIELD helped her understand the application requirements, prepared her for the interview, and most importantly, they motivated her when she was ready to give up. Now as a Freshman at GTCC's Middle College, she wants to stay on for the 5th year and graduate with an Associate's degree. Because of her focus and determination, Denisea has already started college level classes.
"I don't think I would be at the school I'm at now if it wasn't for SHIELD. When I was down on myself..[my mentors told me] "you can do it!" They helped me understand [that] this is what I wanted, this will help me in my life and have a better future"
But she wants to do more. Denisea wants to inspire her younger sister and cousins to succeed. She's also passionate about the issue of homelessness in Guilford County. She wants to continue developing her leadership skills so she can be a part of the solution.
Denisea knows there are many more steps on her path to success. And that there are lots of obstacles that could get in her way. With a SHIELD mentor by her side, Denisea won't be alone. "If I ever feel like I want to give up on my dream, I'm going to go to one of my mentors so they can put me back on that path - you shouldn't give up."