Olivia Sings says she is driven by her mother's inspiration, her sister's persistence - and the memory of a friend.
Sings, 18, a senior at the School of Business and Finance at Garinger, was honored Tuesday at the Charlotte Convention Center with the CIS Leadership Award, the top honor given to a pending graduate from Communities in Schools, the organization that tries to keep students in school - and onto college.
Sings said her mother, Kathleen Williams, "is my backbone."
She said her 21-year-old sister Kimberly Sings "is always there to push me when I need it. I used to have low self-esteem. My sister convinced me that I could succeed."
Her career choice? Law enforcement, Sings says - preferably in the investigative field, hopefully with the FBI.
"I lost a friend last year, someone I was really close to," she says. "I'm not sure if justice was served. I want to do something to help make this a more just world."
Sings says she was close to Rayshawn Rainey, a Garinger High student who was killed after being struck by two vehicles while trying to cross The Plaza a shortly before the last day of school. According to reports at the time, police determined no charges should be filed.
Kimberly Sings says her sister has "boundless energy. She never stops."
The student's principal, Carolyn Rodd, says the CIS award winner is "a role model for our campus."
"She walks into a room, and there's a calming presence to her," Rodd says. "Students naturally look up to her."
Sings, a straight-A student who says school success has always come easily to her, has not selected a college. She has offers from Appalachian State, Duke and Wake Forest. There's also a possible offer from Harvard. In the meantime, she says, there is unfinished business.
"I have an important AIDS fund-raising project coming up, and I'm still involved in peer mentoring and peer mediation," she says.
by Steve Lyttle - The Charlotte Observer