She wins her category in debate competitions on a regular basis.
That could be why Jenesis Williams is the oratory captain of the nationally-ranked speech and debate team at Cypress Bay High School in Weston.
“I like walking into a room and being able to share what I have to say but I also like hearing what other people have to say, because I’ve had my mind blown by the things I have seen and the things that I’ve heard people speak about,” Jenesis said.
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Outstanding in the debate world, but her passion revolves around breaking down barriers between kids with disabilities and the rest of the student body. Jenesis is heavily involved in the Best Buddies club, which pairs students together. She says it’s not mentoring, it’s more like building bridges.
“Because when people get to interact with IDD, students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, then they start to care, right?” Jenesis asks rhetorically. “It taught me so much about communicating and developing connections with people.”
It’s hard to stand out at a school with more than 5,000 students, the state’s biggest, but Jenesis manages to attract glowing attention.
“Wow, she’s the kind of kid that everybody wishes was their daughter,” said Holocaust studies teacher, Leslie Rehingold. “There’s just something natural about her that comes off where people aspire to be around her.”
“I don’t know if anyone looks up to me, I hope not!” Jenesis says, laughing. “I’ve made so many mistakes.”
Oh, but everyone seems to look up to this girl who sports a 5.2 GPA.
“She honestly embodies everything that you look for in a leader, her passion to make our community and this world a better place, honestly, inspires everyone around her,” said Rachel Alexander, a classmate and current president of the Best Buddies club.
Jenesis will take over leadership of the club next year, after Rachel graduates.
“She just has this mindset that when she wants to get something done she’ll do it and she’ll do it at 110%,” said classmate Samantha Deluca.
Jenesis is the type of person who makes the most of every day at school.
“You should always do things to make yourself better, not what looks good on a resume or an application and so I kind of just found opportunities and took them if I thought it was something that was gonna challenge me intellectually,” Jenesis explained.
Intellectually and emotionally. That mission is being accomplished every day.