Meet Nichelle Isabella Smith
“Shining On and Off the Stage”
High school should be a time for students to grow academically, develop self-confidence and figure out who they want to become. It's a time for fostering friendships and spending time on schoolwork, extracurricular activities and making memories.
But for Douglas Byrd High School (DBHS) senior Nichelle Smith, the past few years have brought many challenges. During her freshman year, Nichelle sustained a foot injury that ended her ability to play soccer and has since assisted her sister as she manages a chronic illness. Throughout Nichelle's time at DBHS, her family experienced additional stressors brought on by her father's active-duty military deployments, as well as her grandfather's death during Nichelle's junior year. Also, Nichelle has dealt with some learning challenges.
Despite this, Nichelle has managed to maintain her GPA, volunteer with the Sound Ministry at her church, sing with the Youth Praise Team and perform with the Youth Praise Group. Right now, she is an intern for the Cape Fear Regional Theater. She has also been a part of the Gilbert Theater Glee Club for the last nine years.
Nichelle enjoys expressing herself through drama. She is involved in the Theater Arts program at DBHS, but her internship with Cape Fear Regional Theater stands out.
"I am most proud of my internship with the Cape Fear Regional Theater and the opportunity to support the local theater community," Nichelle said. "I'd like to be remembered for being a dedicated hard worker who is very persistent."
Nichelle stands out to the adults around her because of her work ethic. She continues to put an incredible amount of work into her own self-growth and development, and she is a shining light to those around her.
"Nichelle has a witty and sunny deposition that is contagious," said Jackie Graham, a teacher at DBHS. "Over time, she has developed into an extraordinary young lady who is a very diligent and determined learner. She is an example to her peers of overcoming challenges and pursuing excellence despite difficulties."
Soon, Nichelle will graduate from Douglas Byrd High School. She is thankful for her time in Cumberland County Schools and the teachers and staff who have supported her, including Leon Borders, who worked with Nichelle as an academic liaison.
"Mr. Borders helped me work through many academic and personal challenges," Nichelle explained. "Whenever I needed help, he was there to push me and help me solve problems to the best of his ability. He was very supportive and always willing to listen and try to understand what I was going through."
As Nichelle moves on to the next step, she has advice for those just starting high school.
"If I could give advice to an incoming high school student, it would be to just hang in there," Nichelle said. "There can be a lot of ups and downs while in high school. You just have to stay focused."
After graduation, Nichelle plans on studying theater at Fayetteville Technical Community College (FTCC) and becoming a certified Phlebotomist. Upon completing her time at FTCC, she plans to enroll at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro to further pursue Theater and the Performing Arts.