Creative and Performing Arts High School
Pittsburgh, PA – Allegheny County
Business Partner – MARC USA
“You can use [the awards] to achieve success and help it enhance your life goal. I have noticed my work ethic and time management skills have grown.”
The Challenge Program’s presentation during Cheyenne’s freshman year inspired her to volunteer in her community. For the next three years, Cheyenne volunteered at a bingo hall and a dance studio. Cheyenne wrote in her Student of the Year entry that working with seniors taught her about customer service, kindness, and the worth of a quarter. Working at the studio taught her about children and casting. Along with the life experiences she gained during her service hours, Cheyenne is hoping volunteering will open doors to her future. “I am glad that the Challenge program came to speak to my school freshman year to get me to start thinking financially about college.” Cheyenne knows that scholarships and financial aid will be her only path to attending college and The Challenge Program showed her one path with community service. “I want to thank the challenge program for that. Without these opportunities, I don’t think my mother and I would be able to come up with enough money for me to continue into college.”
Challenges are something my life has never lacked. As I said my first words, my father drove 30 minutes away to another family, and I was to be cared for by only my mother ever since. It was never easy, but we could always make it work. At 10, a dreamed sparked in me that I still can’t shake. My family scraped to pay for my acting classes, and that’s when I launched my theater experience. Everything is my muse and I work to portray all of it. Even when I was told I wasn’t good enough because of my skin color, weight, or talent, I kept believing in my dream to perform. When I started high school at Pittsburgh CAPA I was thrown deeper into the acting world. I worked in theater for half of my day and spent hours at home practicing and preparing for upcoming shows and class. The rest of my time was used working at a hardware store, catering company, and volunteering at a bingo club in my community. I became treasurer for CAPA’s Black Student Union, created the “High Key” singing group, and did musicals and plays all year around. This is all possible because of the Challenge Program and their stress on scholarships early in my high school career. As a sophomore, I was naïve in thinking I could get by without help to go to college. Then one day I looked up, acknowledged my father’s absence, and knew my life would be different than other kids. I know that my mom alone cannot help me get through school, and without this information from the Challenge program I wouldn’t have started volunteering or started the college process for an actor. I understand what money can do; it is very powerful, especially in our society. My mother has worked so hard to give me everything she can, but college is another hurdle for us to jump. I intend to use the scholarship money to continue leading, immersing in my acting, and dreaming in whatever college I choose to go to.
I have noticed my work ethic and time management skills have grown and not only that but I have gained a respect for quality conversations. In these past 3 years of volunteering twice a week at bingo and once a week at the Donna Belajca Studios, I have gained experiences that I will never forget. Seeing some ladies have a negative outlook on life at bingo gave me all the insight on how not to be. Some taught me how to be positive and how to treat workers in the world. By auditioning students from Belajac Studios, I learned how to perform at auditions better, something important to my career.