Friday, September 21, 2012

Scholar Spotlight!

This week we will be beginning our series of "Scholar Spotlight!" Every few weeks, we will be featuring a different Take Stock in Children alumni, sharing their story and how TSIC has impacted their lives!

This week we are proud to feature Courtney Noelle Paige! Originally from the Santa Rosa County Take Stock in Children program, Noelle has been dancing for well over a decade, and after responding to a casting call, she was immediately hired to be the featured soloist in a music video for singer Kelsey’s song "10,000 Bombs" – check it out here!

"To be involved in something that huge was incredible," says Noelle. She continues, "After just one week on YouTube the video had over 25,000 views. In Pensacola, Florida I was always told that I was a big fish in a small pond. To be featured in a video that 25,000 people saw was definitely a fantastic moment!"

Santa Rose County Program Director Angi Brown writes of Noelle, "[She] is a shining star for our program.  She is beautiful and talented, as well as a great student." Indeed, Noelle’s story illustrates the qualities that are fundamental to the TSIC program – strong mentorship, support, and dedication. Noelle’s mentor Paula Lou Mapoles confirms this sentiment writing, "[Take Stock in Children is] an on-going journey that started with a 7th grade young lady who was wearing braces, to a now six-foot magnificent ballerina who touches the hearts and souls of so many through her world of dance… The TSIC mentoring program is a relationship that continues for a life time between a mentee and a mentor!"

Noelle’s story begins in Pace, Florida where she attended Pace High School and trained with Ballet Pensacola. After ten years of training, she was offered a contract and accepted a soloist position with the professional company. The deep relationship between mentor and mentee is illustrated in the fact that "after high school graduation, [my husband and I] sponsored scholarship for her to purchase ballet slippers, [for] her participation in Miss Teen Pageant, and after-show dinners at her favorite restaurant, Olive Garden," writes Noelle’s mentor, Paula.

After high school, Noelle received her A.A. in General Education from Pensacola State College where she worked as a Student Ambassador and was awarded Pensacola's Rising Star and Women in the Arts Award from the Milton Women's Club. Noelle then moved to Chicago to accept a soloist position with Elements Contemporary Ballet. She was then only one of 30 students accepted to University of Illinois at Chicago’s College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs. Just this past summer, she was offered a fellowship with President Obama's re-election campaign, "Organizing for America," where she worked for 12 weeks to open a new campaign office in Deklab, Illinois and recruit full time volunteers and activists.

Noelle’s concentration is in Nonprofit Public Administration and she hopes to do something with education, similar to a program like Take Stock in Children, of which she says, "It's a fantastic organization that can help any student from any back ground. For me it was about supporting a dream that most people looked at me sideways for. I always wanted to live in a big city and do big things - so here I am!" She writes of the support her mentor offered, "[Paula] always came to my ballet shows in Pensacola and encouraged me to do whatever I needed to fulfill my dreams…. I never thought me, being from Pace, Florida, would be living this dream!" When asked how Paula felt in turn about mentoring Noelle, she wrote, "I could write a book about Noelle Paige and my relationship of a life time that started as a TSIC today, a young lady that will forever remain embedded in my heart!"

Noelle’s story is inspiring to all of us here at Take Stock in Children, and we are so proud of all of her hard work that has enabled her to be realizing her dream!

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