Way back in her freshman year, senior Raniya Henry looked around her school and asked herself a question.
“What can I do to make a difference?” Raniya said.
Her answer was to start her own non-profit group dedicated to uplifting her peers at Dr. Michael Krop Senior High School, a group targeting girls such as herself.
“The main goal was just to bring the girls together, really stress to them the importance of sisterhood and respect, our values are giving, integrity, respect, leadership and sisterhood, and that is the acronym for GIRLS and we really stand by that firmly,” said Raniya.
She called her club, “Gifted Girls,” and it was off and running. Raniya sold donuts at school to raise money for t-shirts, then she started holding meetings at which professional women she recruited as mentors would speak to the teenagers.
Raniya made community service projects a mandatory part of membership, volunteering her club to work for Feeding South Florida, Camillus House, and other organizations.
“The impact really has taught the girls the value of service and giving back to the community beyond what goes on in the program,” Raniya said.
To the girls in Gifted Girls, the impact of the club is deeply personal.
“Gifted Girls has shown me to put yourself out there, to have confidence in yourself and always believe that you can do whatever you want to do,” said club member and Krop High student Shaina Ovide.
“Self-esteem, self-worth, and how to change the atmosphere of a situation,” added club member Ludy Francois, saying that’s the takeaway for her.
Krop High’s activities director says Raniya’s creation is almost unprecedented, saying she didn’t even know about Gifted Girls until she saw students wearing the t-shirts.
“She was the one, she initiated it, she did it all, no advisement, no support, she just did it all on her own, and that’s what’s remarkable,” said activities director Michelle Russell.
Raniya is one of those kids who always seems to be in perpetual motion. She’s already started her own clothing line, she has a blog, and her own YouTube channel.
“It makes you wanna be better just being around her,” said Ludy Francois, also a senior at Krop. “She literally radiates positive energy as soon as she walks in the room.”
Raniya plans on majoring in business at FIU, and since she’s staying home for college, she wants to grow Gifted Girls into something bigger.
“I also see myself being an entrepreneur, owning several businesses, but all around I want to make sure that the target remains helping other girls and other women,” Raniya said.
Her friends say Raniya is inspiring, energizing, and motivating. In other words, she’s a gifted girl.
“She will not only succeed in whatever she does, but she will impact the world around her as she’s doing it,” predicted Russell.