Scholar of the Week
Shanella Weatherless of Armstrong High School
By Janeal Downs
From an early age, seek stomach Shanella Weatherless had an interest in traveling, stuff exploring the world and learning about different cultures. Even at 7 years old, she remembers being fascinated by the show, “Rick Steve’s Europe.” In the same year, this interest influenced her to ask for a compass for Christmas. However, to her surprise, she instead received a globe. “I spun it over and over in amazement that there was so much to explore,” Shanella stated in an essay. “I would research in books and online about other countries and how I could be a part of them.”
Her interest in different cultures led Shanella to taking dual enrollment classes during her freshman year of high school. She first started with learning Spanish, but when she transferred from Community High School to Armstrong High School, she decided to try French. “I think everyone wanted to learn Spanish so I just wanted to do something different, so I took French and I ended up loving it,” Shanella said. “I kind of felt a personal connection to the world and I just went crazy with it.” From labeling things in French all over her house, to volunteering at French Festivals, Shanella’s interest grew. Now in her last year of high school, she is in French 4 and has decided to improve her language skills by majoring in French in college.
University of Virginia in Charlottesville and The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg are her two top choices for college. UVA has a French house, which is a dormitory where students who all have interest in French can live in a learning community with other like-minded students. Charlottesville also has an international food market which Shanella would be interested in exploring if she attended the university. With William and Mary, the school’s prestige, global studies department and great study abroad options are what attract her to the university. “I want to study abroad in France, but if it’s too pricey and I can’t afford to study abroad, I can study abroad in maybe Canada or down in Louisiana,” Shanella said. Some study abroad options she has already looked into are Greenheart International where she would “babysit” someone’s house while teaching English and being taught French. After college, some options she is interested in include programs where she could teach English in a francophone country, the Peace Corps or teaching in the United States.
While she is still in high school, she stays connected to the language and other cultures through one of her favorite activities, volunteering. The RVA French Festival, the International Food Festival, and the Richmond Peace Education Center are some places she has volunteered with in the past. “Usually I don’t record the hours just because it’s just something I like doing,” Shanella said about volunteering. “I just like going out and having something to do and making people smile.” With these programs she gets to learn and appreciate not just French speaking cultures, but others as well. Once at the Richmond Peace Center she was able to watch an Indian performance honoring Black Lives Matter in a peace dance. “It just really opened my mind to the world and how we’re all similar but different,” Shanella said. “And how everyone deserves happiness and peace, just that we’re not so different.”
After taking dual enrollment classes, AP classes, honor’s classes, an internship at Capital One and another internship at UPS, Shanella feels as if she has accomplished a lot. Her mother is one of her biggest inspirations because she has always supported Shanella’s dreams. “I just really keep pushing and she’s my inspiration,” Shanella said. With plans to travel, interact with and learn more about other cultures, she continues to work toward her goals. She wants others to know that “it doesn’t matter where you come from, you can achieve anything as long as you have the drive and the passion.”