|Whitfield named top senior runner up|
|Mallard Creek’s Whitfield finds inspiration from family|
|Published Tuesday, June 18, 2013|
|Julia Whifield withsister Lizzy|
Having a younger sister with an intellectual disability has had a profound affect on 17-year-old Julia Whitfield. Her 14-year-old sister Lizzy has Down Syndrome.
In an essay, the Post’s Top Senior Runner Up wrote that her “misadventures” with Lizzy have taught her vital life lessons and given her a greater purpose in life.
“I have found myself over the years becoming competent, even proficient, at assisting Lizzy with performing simple tasks of daily living,” she said. “Countless times, I’ve helped her with bathing, hair washing and painstakingly helped her write each letter of the alphabet. While most teens my age enjoy the luxury of engaging in teen angst, I find myself constantly looking around for what needs to be done, and jumping in and helping out. I can honestly say that I experience wonderful sense of satisfaction from helping others.”
Whitfield, a senior at Mallard Creek High School, said her experiences with Lizzy have also given her a greater sense of appreciation of her own abilities that makes her strive harder to achieve her goals and succeed academically.
“I’ve just been raised to want to learn everything I can learn, whether it’s in school or from interacting with people and being in society,” she said. “And because I see my sister can’t learn as fast as she wants to learn, that makes me appreciate my abilities more.”
Whitfield maintains a 4.6 GPA. In addition to being motivated by Lizzy, Whitfield said her desire to overachieve is also fueled by her parents, who are always encouraging with words of wisdom and advice. Her father, Jordan Whitfield, has always instilled in her the importance of keeping her priorities in order and managing her time to put “first things first.”
The best piece of advice Whitfield said she’s ever received from her mother, Deborah, was to stay focused.
“My mom always told me that if I wanted to have all of the fun and cool college options in the future, I’d need to focus on my work and not worry about what other people are saying or doing,” Whitfield said.
She said her mom warned her that at times it would be a challenge to keep her eye on the prize when everyone else was having fun, but in the long run it would pay off.
“It’s definitely been true,” she said. “It’s been tough, especially this year because I’m a senior. I want to go with my friends, and do fun things but I still have to keep my grades up until I’m in college. I have to perform well until the very end.”
Whitfield is very active in school. She’s an executive member of student council. She’s also a member of the National Honor Society, Health Occupational Students of America, Math Honor Society, the A Team Freshman Mentorship program, Spanish Honors Society and Science Honors Society.
She is also involved in her community. She attends Grace AME Zion Church and sings in the choir. She also volunteers as a counselor and tutor for An Angel’s Touch, an afterschool and summer program assisting children with disabilities.
Above all, she said it brings her joy to help others.
“I just help out a lot,” she said. “Wherever I can, I help out.”
For fun, Whitfield enjoys competitive dancing and cake decorating with her aunt, Brenda Armstrong.
“My aunt likes to make cakes, but she’s not very creative,” said Whitfield. “”So I come and help her do the decorations.”
Whitfield is also an avid reader. Her favorite book is “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen.
Her advice to other teens that dream big and aspire to achieve greatness in life is to watch the company they keep.
“Find people who have the same ambitions as you,” she said. “You can have other friends who want something different, but it’s good to find a core of about two or three people who want to succeed the way you are, and it will be a lot easier when you are struggling with school or personal issues. It will be easier to know that there is someone else out there I the world striving to do what you are doing and not everyone is off just doing crazy things or whatever.”
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