By: Mechelle Hankerson
About three months ago, Ferniqua Christian did what most high school seniors probably would dread doing the same year they attend prom and are asked to pose for endless graduation-related photos – she chose to get braces.
“I was so unhappy with my smile,” she said. In the past three months, she said she’s noticed a huge difference in her smile and is more than happy to share it with others.
Now, Christian has decided she wants to pass on the same confidence by becoming an orthodontist.
“I want to be an orthodontist when I grow up because I want to change people, I don’t want people to feel like I felt with my smile, I want them to feel confident when they smile,” she said.
Christian is currently a senior at John Marshall High School, where she serves as a member of the National Honor Society and is third in her class with a 4.0 grade point average. Even though she enjoys her rigorous class load (Christian is currently taking three Advanced Placement classes), she said she is also passionate about the community service she performs as a member of the National Honor Society.
Christian, and her school’s chapter of the NHS, often performs community service to benefit the homeless population in the city. They often help, with assistance from churches, creating overnight shelters for homeless people and help in more traditional ways by distributing food.
“When you give back, you get more in return,” Christian said. “You know that these people deserve something that they’re lacking and you’re just giving your time out of the day to help these people.”
Outside of class, Christian works as a secretarial assistant at the Richmond City Public Schools’ Superintendent’s office. She said she got the job to help relieve some of the financial burden of senior year and beginning college.
Christian’s mother is a single mother, currently pursuing a master’s degree in information technology.
“I just don’t see how she does it … I couldn’t study something like that,” she said.
Even though the two talk about their classes like peers, Christian’s mother still expects a certain level of academic dedication from her daughter.
“Ever since I was a little girl my mother never liked Cs, Ds or Fs — I’ve never had an F,” Christian said. “She doesn’t really push for that.”
Christian said sometimes she’ll take her weekends to reorganize if she feels like she is falling behind in school.
Her own motivation and her mother’s expectations have served her well. Her former AP English teacher, Laura Ramsay described her in a recommendation letter as “respectful, mature … and is one of the most trusted students at John Marshall.”
Christian’s school counselor, Camilla Battle, also wrote in a recommendation letter that Christian will move on from John Marshall to accomplish whatever she chooses to pursue.
“I strongly believe in Ferniqua and know she will be successful in college,” she wrote.