The immigrant dream is alive and well, thanks to kids like Chyanne Fletcher. She's a petite junior at Hollywood Hills High School who moved to Florida from Pakistan in 2010. Now just six years later, this girl who barely cracks the five-foot mark is looked up to by almost everyone at her school.
"She's very tough, she's soft-spoken. However, when she's in charge of a job, she's really in charge," said Chief Warrant Officer Eddie Jones, who leads the JROTC program at the school.
Chyanne is a major in the program, commanding more than 200 cadets in her battalion. She's a finalist for the Broward school district's cadet of the year, and as she received a medal signifying that status, she spoke to the cadets gathered in front of her.
"Being a finalist in cadet of the year wasn't easy, it was a lot of studying, but whatever happens, happens, and I want to thank all of you guys for choosing this program and being part of it and helping it grow," Chyanne said.
See what she did there? Chyanne was fostering good morale among the troops, that's what effective leaders do. She doesn't brag, she's humble, even though she has a 4.0 GPA and maintains it while working two jobs and volunteering for just about every service project at the school.
"It's all time management," Chyanne said, explaining how she gets it all done.
Her friends say Chyanne is the kid who can be relied upon to mentor everyone else.
"Students that need the guidance, that need the influence, she comes to them to help them out, I see that a lot," said Samej Brunson, one of her JROTC colleagues.
"She always does the right thing, she inspires me in that way, like to always hold my head up high and be a good student," added Adriana Parrales, another friend of Chyanne's.
Chyanne wants to become a nurse, a field that she says will allow her to help as many people as possible. It’s part of her philosophy.
"In whatever way that I can influence others, I would like for them to go ahead and influence others, like a little ripple effect, and it's kind of satisfying knowing that the little things that I do, they start from me and go ahead to other people," Chyanne said.
Chyanne says ROTC training helps her focus and stay on task in the classroom. This year, her school’s program received its highest ranking ever.
"That is directly attributable to her determination and perseverance," Officer Jones said.
You get the feeling Chyanne will be leading in whatever profession she chooses. More medals are surely in her future.