20 Grads: Putting Others First

Raven Joseph defines success as “when you know you have personally made a difference in someone else’s life, or many other people’s lives. I don’t think it’s about money, it’s about what you can do to help other people.” 

The eighth grader at Highville Charter School in New Haven takes that ideal to heart, and puts in the time and effort to set herself up for success.

“When you want to get to greater heights, you have to work hard,” said Raven. “Thinking about what I want to do, who I want to be, and what I want to become makes me work harder.”

Raven already has her plans for her future. “I would like to be a family lawyer, working with divorce cases, prenups, and things like that,” Raven said. “Family is an important value to me and I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer and fight for human rights and things like that, so incorporating those two things sounds pretty good.”

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Highville has been a big part in her personal growth and goal-oriented mindset.

“Highville means a lot to me – It is really, truly my second home,” said Raven. “It shaped me into the young woman I am today, and has broadened my horizons and exposed me to things I don’t think I would’ve seen if I had gone to another school.”

The school’s global studies focus, which includes naming each classroom after a country, was one such positive influence – it changed the way Raven views the world. “I’m in the Ghana classroom this year, and I’ve learned that many girls in Ghana aren’t allowed to get an education. Here in the US, students who aren’t exposed to that information might not know about other countries where kids aren’t exposed to a good education, and may not value what they have as much as I do.”

Raven’s favorite teacher, Mr. Blake, was another. “He has so much wisdom. He gets to know each of us personally and shows that he really cares.”

Along with the strong support she receives at school, Raven looks up to the positive example her mother sets at home. “She is everything that I wish I could be when I’m older – she’s definitely my role model,” said Raven. “She’s very strong – a lot of things have been thrown her way and she’s always been able to bounce back.”

“I really want to thank my parents for teaching me the importance of education,” said Raven. “When you’re young you don’t really think about how important education is – you don’t know how far education can take you. They taught me what it could do at a young age and I’m grateful for that.”

Raven also knows the importance of giving back to the community. Her favorite school project was an effort to support the homeless.

“Me and three other students came up with the idea of reusing gently used tee-shirts by turning them into tote bags,” said Raven. “Within those bags, we got donations from around the school of toothbrushes, toothpaste, feminine products, things like that, and decided to use them to give back to the women at Columbus House in New Haven. We ended up with over 40 bags and really helped people.”

Raven isn’t sure yet where she’s going to head to high school, but wherever she heads she’ll be an asset to the school community. Her drive to achieve and willingness to put others first will help her through high school, college, law school, and beyond.

Mike is the former Deputy Communications Director for Connecticut for the Northeast Charter Schools Network.
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20 Grads: Putting Others First
20 Grads: Putting Others First
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