Edison Senior High School Student Leads by Example

From speaking zero English after moving here from Haiti, Anna Blaise became one of the top students at Edison in just three years' time.

Three years ago, Anna Blaise would sit in class and not understand a word her teachers were saying.

"But she has this innate drive in her, where she doesn't let anything get her down and she's motivated and wanted to make a difference," said Yolette Mezadieu, a teacher at Edison Senior High School in Miami and Anna's mentor.

Mezadieu would tell Anna in Creole that she could be an academic star, and then watched it happen.

"My mother always say to me, you got to adapt yourself first," Anna said.

So how's this for adaptation: from speaking zero English after moving here from Haiti, Anna became one of the top students at Edison in just three years' time.

"When I wake up in the morning I say today is a great day, you can do anything," said Anna.

She sounds like a motivational speaker, and her best friends, who are also recent immigrants, say Anna's infectious optimism rubs off on them. They see her as a role model.

"She came without knowing any English, but I see every day how she, like, grow up and she's really amazing, she inspire me a lot," said classmate Gabriela Artiga, an immigrant from El Salvador.

"If other student needs help, Anna will be there to help especially, the non-English speakers," explained fellow senior Cassandre Chery, also a Haitian immigrant.

Anna is flattered by the way her friends characterize her, but if the flattery has gone to her head, she doesn't show it.

"I don't consider myself as a role model, I'm thinking that I'm a helper, I'm helping them grow, you're helping me learn," Anna said.

Anna was born with that spirit of selflessness. She's involved in ten different clubs at school, president of two, and she's always filling up her laptop with observations. In her spare time, Anna has written 102 poems.

The poetry, she says, is a sort of therapy, filled with themes you might expect. Anna writes about self-reliance, self-motivation, a love for her mom, and respect for others.

"Find your path, be thankful for finding yourself early," she admonishes in one poem.

Edison High School is filled with immigrant kids, looking for pathways to success.

"My advice is make yourself unstoppable, doing it not because you have to, it's because you need to do it, because if you believe in yourself you can do anything, don't put the words 'I can't' in your vocabulary and you're gonna have to inspire others, also," Anna said.

Next year, Anna hopes to be studying criminal justice in college.

Right now, she's leading by example.

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