Joi Greene, a senior at John Marshall High School, has always loved helping people. In 2008, the news of her mother, Shirley Greene, being diagnosed with breast cancer really hurt her. “It was very hard. I was in middle school at the time so it was like I knew what was going on, but at the same time I didn’t,” Joi said. She adds that losing her uncle to colon cancer prior to this made her even more scared. “I just thought any kind of cancer would be enough to take anybody out.”
Joi and her mother became much closer during this time period. Her mother wasn’t ill for long, because doctors at Saint Mary’s Hospital found it early and within the same year she was cancer-free. This experience had a profound influence on Joi because it showed her two things. One, her mother’s willingness to fight was an example of perseverance and how she shouldn’t let obstacles slow her down in life. “She motivates me,” Joi said. The experience also showed Joi a future career choice: nursing. “I used to go to the hospital with her and I saw how the nurses took care of her and made sure she wasn’t in pain or anything like that.”
Joi hopes to become a pediatric nurse because she says she loves working with children. She has three different plans for obtaining this goal. Plan A is to go to VCU and obtain a nursing degree. Plan B is to go to J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College for two years and then transfer to VCU. Plan C is for her to go to Virginia State University and get her nursing degree from there. All this is based on whether or not she is accepted into VCU. She has already been accepted to VSU and ODU.
From her choices of college, it’s clear that Joi does not want to go far from home. She says that she does not want to leave her mother alone, and while her mother has said that it’s okay to go abroad for college, Joi still wants to stay close. “She’s not holding me back or anything, she wants me to go to college because she didn’t go to college,” Joi said. “I feel like you don’t have to go far away just to get a good education.” Joi is currently the salutatorian at John Marshall High School, ranking second in her class of 165 students.