Story by Leigh Phillips
BRYC Senior Fellows Garrinecia Singleton and Kari Stephens were recently chosen as recipients of the 2018 Louisiana Young Heroes Award. In its 23rd year, the program celebrates the achievements of students who have inspired those around them and have devoted their time, talents, and energy to making their schools, churches, and communities better places.
Louisiana Public Broadcasting and the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge sponsor the program. The winners and their families will be honored April 16 with a luncheon at the Old Governor’s Mansion, a banquet at the Renaissance Hotel in Baton Rouge, and more.
Singleton is a senior at Scotlandville Magnet High School who suffered an abusive childhood at the hands of a family member. After her abuser was imprisoned, Singleton was diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety, and severe clinical depression. She committed herself to a stringent mental health regimen, remaining a dedicated student. Singleton will be her class salutatorian and has been accepted to Rhodes College with a scholarship worth more than $200,000. She is also a Gates Scholarship Finalist. Singleton plans to become a licensed clinical social worker to support vulnerable young people and spread awareness of predatory behavior.
Stephens is a senior at Baton Rouge Magnet High School. When their mother died of cancer, Stephens and her brother were adopted by an aunt. In addition to her mother’s terminal illness, Stephens’ childhood was made more difficult by a father in prison, an older sister who frequently ran away, and time in a homeless shelter. Stephens found that by opening herself up to people, she would be exposed to opportunities she hadn’t considered, such as Key Club. Stephens is the district secretary-treasurer and is past lieutenant governor of Key Club. As an active Key Club member, Stephens has given back to the community at several BREC family events and Our Lady of the Lake-sponsored runs. She is a regular volunteer at Lake Sherwood Village assisted living community where she plays bingo with the residents. Stephens has traveled around the country with Key Club and has been able to embrace the lessons of strength and selflessness that her mothers taught her.
“I am pretty grateful and extremely lucky to be recognized for doing what I love: helping others,” Stephens said. “I was amazed to be nominated for this award and even more so when I found out that I had so many who are there to support me. It feels so good to have a strong support system in the staff at BRYC and in my family!”