The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

May 25, 2013

An Eye Toward the future

Shady Spring senior knows mentoring can change lives

By Sarah Plummer
For The Register-Herald

— Editor’s note: During the next several days, The Register-Herald will run feature stories about graduating seniors from area high schools. The series of stories has been tagged “An Eye Toward The Future.” We hope you enjoy these in-depth looks at some special young adults.

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Shady Spring High School senior Sierra Neubert is paying it forward, encouraging students to think about their college choices early on in their high school careers.

Sierra said she struggled through middle school and high school without being engaged or interested in her education.

“I wasn’t even worried about anything beyond getting a D to pass a class. I didn’t think about college or my future and never sat down to think about what I needed to do to graduate,” she explained.

“I think, in my mind, I felt like it wasn’t important and never realized how important it actually was to go to college. I thought my parents were just nagging me and everybody talked about my potential just to try to get me to do something,” she shared.

It wasn’t until she experienced College Summit the summer before her senior year that she suddenly made a 180, moving from never once thinking about the possibility of college to now planning on attending Concord University in the fall and taking her general education classes until she figures out exactly what her major should be.

She explained that during her junior year, her class was sent down to the Shady Spring High School cafeteria to learn about College Summit.

“All I heard was that it was several days away from my family at Marshall University and my friends were going, so I wanted to go,” she said.

Once there she sat down with a small group of students, much like herself in that they didn’t have the best grades and didn’t know what they wanted to do with their lives.

“A college alumnus talked to us about college. It seemed like the people understood me a little more than my parents or my guidance counselor. They could get to know me on a personal level,” she explained.

“The alumni there helped me realize even though I was not a great student, was not perfect, and had struggled through high school did not mean that I could not make myself more successful during my senior year and go to college.”

She said the biggest thing she learned was, “It is not your parent, teacher or guidance counselor who should push you. You need to push yourself. If you don’t apply yourself and you think you can’t make anything of yourself, then you won’t.”

She began working hard in school during her senior year and became a peer mentor with College Summit, working with students who are at risk of dropping out or who are not working up to their full potential.

“I absolutely love working with the freshmen. It gives me a chance to help them so they don’t make the same mistakes I did. The freshmen I mentor know my backstory and they know how I struggled. I help them realize that they can make it and they can do it,” she said.

With those students she now mentors, she leaves them one main lesson she learned the hard way — “If you change your mindset, you can do great things.”